I have had to redefine how I, as a first-generation-born Asian American, fit into that America. That has not been easy.
Meet Kyle Liang, a Taiwanese-Malaysian American. He runs a witty personal blog called Learning The Alphabet, where he has received over 100,000 views writing about his experiences as an “Asian American in a not-so-Asian America.”
Given his valuable insight, I am very grateful that he took the time out to answer a couple questions.
Note: This is the abridged version. You can read the full interview here!
Q: Over the years of writing/updating your blog, what has been an important revelation or insight you’ve gained about your identity as an Asian-American?
I realized that a lot of us–Asian American, African American, European American–are going through the same problems just in different ways. When I first started my blog, there was a girl from Kenya who would always comment about how she has had very similar experiences. Over the last few years, my blog has gotten me into conversations with people that I didn’t think I could identify with. It has been a pleasure learning about other people, how much our stories overlap, and how we’ve dealt with our problems differently.
Q: What sorts of life-situations have raised questions for you about “who you are?”
I think that I started asking myself “who I am” when I was in preschool. There were only 3 Chinese kids in my class including me, my best friend but the other kid was pretty overweight, so me and my other Chinese friend made it a point that we were not to be associated with him (I know, we were mean) because we were afraid that everyone in our class would associate us together since the three of us were Asian.
The next few years, I was teased for my squinty eyes, food I ate, and other traits attributed to my race and upbringing. The last thing I wanted during that time was to be associated with being Asian. I eventually overcame this insecurity by high school, but when I moved into my college, where the overwhelming majority [of students] are white and come from wealthy families, I felt like I had to start redefining my perception of America… how I, as a first-generation-born Asian American, fit into that America. That has not been easy.
Q: Your writing is very humorous, and I have literally LOL’d reading through your blog. How much of a role do you feel that humor has played in your life?
When it comes to discussing sometimes sensitive topics such as the ones on my blog, I like to bring in humor because it makes it easier to read. I think that introducing humor to topics that are difficult to discuss can make others more willing to listen and hear what you have to say. I think that laughter is something any two people can share, and [can] create a bridge for understanding, for learning, and for shattering preconceived notions and dissolving racial stereotypes.
Q: What has kept you blogging after all of this time?
My concern is that the Asian-American experience is often neglected when we talk about discrimination and adversity in America. I don’t want to speak on behalf of Asian-American people, I just want to make sure that there are Asian-American voices being heard. So in that regard, I don’t feel like I’m trying to keep it going, instead I feel like I’m trying to make sure my voice doesn’t fall silent.