Harvard and the Asian-American Voice, The Hidden Side of Instagram Activism

Millennials and Gen-Z kids use social media to get their message across, whether that message is their angst, #ootd, lunch, or ideology. Platforms such as Instagram give people from all over the world the chance to connect and talk about common interests, such as activism. Asian activism, unheard of since Yellow Peril’s glory days, has survived and thrived on social media- particularly Instagram. While there are some Asian activist accounts on tumblr, that social justice haven, and on Twitter, there is a surprising number of Asian activist accounts on Instagram, with hundreds of thousands of followers.

These accounts do everything from featuring Asian culture, to encouraging young Asians to embrace their looks, to empowering Asian women to break out of gender roles, to speaking out about Asian matters. Many young people get their news on Asian issues such as hate crimes and representation (or lack thereof) in the media from these accounts, rather than from major news outlets. Hate crimes against Asians rarely make national headlines- or even headlines at the state level. These accounts root out information and news from local sources, relying on their wide network of followers for information. This is not saying that these accounts solely focus on Asian matters. Nearly all of them have #BLM (Black Lives Matter) in their profile. They support and uplift other POC, and advocate for intersectional feminism, lay into racist and misogynistic politicians, and implore their viewers to vote. They also reintroduce young Asians to their culture. Some examples of how t call attention to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and social problems in Asian countries. They keep Asians living abroad up to date on politics and culture, and provide young Asians who only visit their native countries for vacation with a link to home. They bring Asians together, from all over the world, and reassure them that they still own their culture. These people suffer for this. The comments section under their posts are filled with racist rhetoric, and often, death threats. Many of the people behind these accounts do not share their real identity, for fear of being stalked or harmed in real life. They know all too well that this is a possibility.

So, who is behind all these accounts? The heads of activist groups? Or maybe, the heads of ASUs (Asian Student Unions)? Bored political science majors? God forbid- weeaboos? More often than not, it’s teenage girls. Activist accounts on Instagram are hardly unusual- there are thousands, if not millions of them. Most of them are either feminist accounts, or black activist accounts. Many are aimed solely at Democrats. When Instagram activism is brought up, these are the accounts we talk about. Ironically, Asian activist accounts are suffering from the same thing they condemn every day- a lack of interest and awareness of Asian issues. Here are some great Asian activist accounts to follow on Instagram, with smart, passionate, involved young Asians heading them:


Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

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