The privilege of my Asian-American identity

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I recognize my privilege everyday when I look out the window of my white-dominant suburban neighborhood and am reminded that I’m guarded by a paranoid neighborhood watch. I recognize my privilege when I can sit and back read about other people’s histories and experiences without being triggered. I recognize my privilege when I can navigate safely into a white space without someone else feeling threatened. I recognize my privilege when I can fade into a crowd as quiet and law-abiding.

However, I don’t know what it’s like to be a member of the majority in a demographic, neither here nor in a motherland across the sea. I don’t know what it’s like to truly belong in one’s country; in fact, I’m not really sure what that really means as a person of color and daughter of refugee immigrants. And I don’t know what it’s like to casually exist in a space, including my own home, without a care in the world. For all of the times I’ve been questioned about where I come from, where I live, if I speak English and how I learned it, and why I exist in this particular space here and now, how could I ever sit comfortably in a place where I have to justify my existence by educating other people of my history and actively change my behavior in order to blend in, in an environment where I’m constantly reminded that my status is up for debate despite the hard facts — which apparently can be alternative at any moment.

Since the coronavirus took over the world in 2020, the legitimacy and fault of Asian-Americans have been in question since the then-president strategically and regularly referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus.” Somehow, in this “woke” society that exists simultaneously with an abundance of information, those words actually turned emotions into conversations that germinated the seed of Asian hate.

As a cynic, I understand that every action has its own explanation. But how do we justify the recent string of events as single, outlying behaviors derived from the perpetrators’ own demons: when a Chinese-American stranger is stabbed on the street, when a killing spree targeting Asian-owned businesses alleviates a “bad day,” when the District Attorney minimizes the murder of a Thai-American grandfather as a “tantrum,” when Trump’s language is enough to stab a Chinese-American family unit, and when Asian-American elders are consistently targeted. The obvious answer is that the perpetrators feel that their communities compel them to become saviors by attacking those who, in deduced illogical reason, are to blame for the culmination of loss that was 2020. So, in this case, it would be anyone resembling a stereotypical Chinese look?

Asian-targeted hate crimes have been on the rise in the recent past, and are still ongoing. Of those incidents reported, 68 per cent are against women which only adds another layer of fear, in addition to the countless incidents not reported. As I reflect, I know with a certainty that any one of my friends, family members, and even myself, could have been and could be a victim. Unfortunately, we will continue to be victims unless we take back the narrative, speak out and are heard.

As I navigate this world with my dark hair, tan-olive skin and almond eyes, I am aware that despite my privilege, I am not casually safe until this conversation turns into real palpable change — a change that includes people of every color, shape, and size. The Asian-American community and I are not perpetual foreigners and should not be treated as such. I refuse to accept the idea that we are of the model minority. I have to take up space, and I will.

What’s up: an update

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The other night I had a nightmare in which I was unable to form an essay and articulate it in class. I was so disappointed in myself and began to blame the teacher for not giving me enough time to put together a well-thoughtout and presentable argument. When I awoke, I realized that I have indeed neglected my dreams of being a creative being and writer.

In particular, I have also neglected this website. I feel guilty for having neglected this website for almost over a year! I came to a crossroads wherein I didn’t know how to continue this website and so, I just kind of stopped.

In 2015, I found myself working for a growing and beautiful Spanish resort company; however as much as I enjoyed the opportunity, I needed to leave the position to focus on my small family. Even during the transition from working and constantly being on the move to becoming (mostly) settled and focusing on home life, I still felt an eagerness to learn, discover and be part of something bigger.

Luckily I found enough inspiration to challenge myself through illustration and have been drawing almost everyday since. I picked up my tumblr account and started posting all of my experimental, learning projects at chamomile notes.tumblr.com. Some of the illustrations were created using Google Images as references and pop culture as inspiration, but all of them are original. If you should view them, please leave comments.

As we are moving into 2016, I intend to start writing more, and more often, and I would also like to continue illustration. My hope is to be able to keep this website updated more regularly.

On to 2016… *cheers*

I am unique because…

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While I’ve been swimming in the job market, looking for my next opportunity, I’ve often found myself discouraged and really down. I’ve found myself being passed up for entry-level positions like data entry clerk and receptionist, and I start to feel like my credentials aren’t good enough to be a good candidate for any role. But that’s not true because there are lots of reasons why I am unique and just haven’t found the perfect organization to grow in. For now, we can start with five reasons why I am unique.

1. I’m efficient, especially when I get to call the shots and can keep my team focused. Added that I am punctual and do well with meeting deadlines, my efficiency gets a boost and those daunting tasks are checked off as quickly as it was to write them down. I’ve always been complimented on how quickly I’ve gotten things done.

2. I like to learn new things. And I take the new things I learn and file them in a wrinkle in my brain to be referenced at a later time if/when necessary. Life is a series of building things upon things. People have told me that I’m really “sharp,” but I just take things that are given or said to me to heart.

3. I’m creative. I like learning new things and I also like combining information and new ideas to be more efficient, thus I am creative. In the creative category, I also like to illustrate, draw, photograph, write — pretty much produce my own original pieces whenever possible. I’m actually teaching myself (with the help of lynda.com) Adobe Illustrator.

4. There is always room for improvement. Sometimes I think it would be so great to be so confident that I thought I was the best at everything I do — you know how they say, “Fake it ’til you make it,” but I’m of the mentality that I can become better. I read biographies, self-help books, quotes. I ask strangers for their opinion on random subjects. I will never be perfect, but I can be better. I am always doing something.

5. I’m genuinely and highly motivated. I don’t just want to get a job anywhere, I want to find a position that will contribute to my professional growth. I don’t want to just relish in becoming an assistant, I want to surpass that eventually and take on bigger projects. I truly and honestly want to grow into a career where I can own what I do and where I am.

Want to know more reasons why I am unique? Comment, tweet me, reach me and let me know!

Taking photos

Blog, Photography

Last Christmas, I got a Canon T3i for a present and I’ve finally started to really use it. I’ve read books about photography of all kinds, watched some videos online about how to take good pictures, even checked Lynda.com for tutorials about lighting and I’m constantly browsing Tumblr and Pinterest to see what “interesting” photos are suppose to look like.

I decided to stick some of my better photos on a blog so I can see if I’ve finally develop some sort of style and improved if any.

Here’s the link, if anyone’s interested.

photosbygaoli.wordpress.com

Meanwhile, I’ll be accepting free feedback.

Thanks!

Social media for job candidates

Blog, Clips

By Gaoli Moua

Social media are fun and convenient. They reunite us with people from the past and help us forge new connections effortlessly. They amplify the extroverts in us with its allure of easy updating and commenting. They allow us to share anything and everything with disregard to our overall viewers⎯and that is where the danger lies.

Social media are still in the developing stages, but they should not be treated like pages of a personal diary or the stage on which life’s drama plays out. Instead, they should be treated like extensions of our professional personas, because over sharing has the potential to stunt career advancement.

As technology becomes more sophisticated, employers will rely more heavily on social media to discover talent. In a 2011 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, 89 percent of respondents said they used social media in their recruiting efforts. 64 percent of respondents had previously hired people through social networks and 55 percent planned to increase their budgets for social recruiting in 2012.

Most employers are looking for the fastest way to sort out the rejects when recruiting. Part of sorting through resumes is researching candidates via the Internet for a first impression. A 2010 study conducted by Execunet, a membership organization dedicated to helping executives, found that 70 percent of business managers had rejected job applicants based on information found online.

“You never want to give people a reason to say ‘no,’” said University of Georgia, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications Professor Barry Hollander. “Too much information is a bad thing because you’re not really controlling the information. You aren’t emphasizing the right things.”

Cynics might say social media activity won’t affect the careers of people who are not actively job hunting or seeking promotion. However, employers can use it as a tool to check employee performance through monitoring online behavior during work hours and checking employees who might play hooky on the job.

The significance of social media can vary depending on an individual’s industry and job title, but that doesn’t negate its effects. An opinion writer has more leeway to publically critique politicians than a doctor who could offend his or her patients. In addition, some companies, like CBS, have social media policies in their employee handbooks.

One could argue that specific social networks have certain appeals and rules governing their usage. Facebook is thought of as more personal and private, while other networks like LinkedIn are considered to be more professional. However, Facebook remains one of the predominant sites employers are tempted to check when sourcing candidates because, not only does it show up in a search, it is the most popular social networking site.

Despite privacy settings that have been implemented for the popular site, there is always a way to get around them⎯not to mention users who don’t know how to use them. In a 2012 survey, Consumer Reports found that almost 13 million users did not know about or had never used any of Facebook’s privacy tools.

Facebook’s privacy tools does not protect the other social networking accounts synced to it, whereby users can simultaneously update a string of social networking sites. Viewers can see Facebook updates regardless of whether or not they are subscribed to it if it is available on another site.

Many social media users have a false sense of privacy that enables them to share intimate, and sometimes inappropriate, details of their lives. Sharing too much could put off a “friend” and could get you “unfriended.” So why couldn’t sharing also put off an employer.

Should users censor themselves? No. But they should be more cautious in what they choose to publish online.
“It’s okay to use social media to make yourself seem like a real person to your customers, your clients, followers, readers, or whatever it may be,” Hollander said.

In this day and age, employees and job applicants are expected to stay on trend. We are expected to know how to leverage social media while we interact with each other and brand ourselves by showing off our personalities and latest projects. Understanding how sharing can impact your job, or the job you want, is essential to success.

It is inevitable that technology will become more sophisticated while our lives become more transparent. Your social media profiles and activity should reflect who you are and who you want to be. Don’t be the candidate who gets passed over for an opportunity that could have transformed your life.


This Op-Ed piece was originally written as an assignment for Pulitzer prize winner and Commentator Cynthia Tucker’s editorial/opinion writing class at the University of Georgia. (Fall 2012)