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The New York Times’ “Interchangeable Asian”

Recently, our esteemed peer journalists at the New York Times released an article – not an opinion, an actual news article – titled “The Cost of Being an ‘Interchangeable Asian’”. After several close reads, I find it to be a well-researched and important article. Excellent points are made about the dangers of collectivization of Asians, and the history of collectivization of Asians – the root of the “interchangeable” problem – is explained in great detail. However, what could have been a fascinating research piece on the collectivization of Asian-Americans and its socioeconomic ramifications is derailed by the New York Times making the same error that they are lambasting in the piece – grouping Asians into a monolith. Some may find this ironic, coming from Overachiever – a media organization that also, on the surface, groups South, Southeast, East, Central, and West Asians together. However, we are deeply committed to providing accurate representation and content for each of these groups, attempting to make a term that previously only represented East Asian Americans more inclusive of their geographical neighbors. I cannot say that I see the same effort here. Frequent references are made to “Asian-Americans”, but the only photos and names are of East-Asians. East Asian countries are specifically mentioned, and testimonies are given by East Asian-Americans. South Asians are mentioned in passing, with Southeast, Central, and West Asian-Americans ignored altogether. Additionally, we see the model minority myth rearing its ugly head, propped up by the lack of class, religious, or sexual diversity in addition to the lack of ethnic diversity in the piece. The model minority myth paints the Asian-American monolith as universally socioeconomically privileged, when in reality, there are significant differences. For example, Lao-Americans are among the poorest ethnic minority in the country. This is certainly a step in the right direction – a national newspaper examining micro-aggressions against Asians – but its message is undermined as well as delegitimized by making the same errors it criticizes.

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.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

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.

We hope you’ll join us.

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