Kilian Nelson / Gavel Media

Photo Campaign Examines Asian and Pacific American Identity

Untold Stories: Diversity within the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community, a photo campaign by Joon Park, MCAS ‘18, is currently on display in the O’Neill Library Level One Gallery for the month of April.

April marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) at Boston College, which celebrates the history and contributions Asian American and Pacific Islanders have made to American society. The annual event, organized by the APAHM committee through the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, first began in 2003.

APAHM committee member Nikita Patel, CSOM ‘17, proposed the idea for the photo campaign to combat the perception of Asian and Pacific Islanders “as a monolith.”

“The stereotype is that everyone in the community is East Asian, straight, cisgender, economically well off, and successful,” Patel continued. “However, this ignores a significant portion of the community and serves only to reinforce stereotypes.”

“With this photo campaign, I wanted to steer the conversation on-campus about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders away from culture clubs and the ‘typical’ face of the community to talk about real issues that others might not expect just by looking at someone.”

The photo campaign features the faces of BC students of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage, including APAHM committee members, Asian Caucus Co-Presidents Steve Hong, CSOM ‘17, and Clara Lee, LSOE ‘17, and others who attended the APAHM opening ceremony.

The photographs are accompanied by captions written by the students featured in the images. Each caption has its own distinct voice, highlighting the different perspectives of what it means to embody the Asian American and Pacific Islander identity.

“I think conversations surrounding race are usually presented in a black and white binary which may make it uncomfortable for Asian Americans to break the silence so often associated with Asian American identity,” said Park, the photographer of the campaign. “I want to show that Asian Americans can also have a voice, and that there is a powerful beauty that results when these robust and diverse voices are heard.”

In addition to the photo campaign, the APAHM committee is planning Minute to Win It, a fundraiser for an organization that promotes the mental health of Asian American/Pacific Islanders, on Apr. 19 at 6 p.m. in the Fulton Honors Library. APAHM month will end with a festival and closing ceremony during the last week of April.

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