Hey, @everyone! We’re Discord’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group. It’s a bit of a mouthful, so ‘round these parts we call ourselves the “AAPI ERG” for short. We’re a group of around 150 Discordians who identify as anything from AAPI members to allies, gamers, hot pot enthusiasts, and everything in between.
The past year plus has been an especially tough time for our AAPI communities. We cannot ignore the pain and trauma we’ve endured and are continuing to endure, and so we wanted this year’s celebration to be an extra special celebration of our unique cultures, heritage, passions, achievements, and selves. A time to show some extra love to ourselves as individuals.
For the month of May, we’re celebrating the things that make each of us unique. Below, you’ll see the quotes of various members of the AAPI ERG discussing the ways we’ve broken free from various molds and expectations. Some bring laughter, some follow with deep self-reflection, and even sorrow, but it all comes together in one singular topic: embracing who you truly are.
More than just Asian…
Many of us have experienced being perceived as simply “Asian”. Or perhaps folks try to guess our ethnicity and make generalizations from there. For others, especially those who aren’t East Asian, we’re often not even considered anything under the AAPI umbrella. But beyond the label of Asian, each of us identifies ourselves using far more than just Asian-specific labels.
From ex-ballerina, to PC gamer, escape room enthusiast, hiker, third culture kid, musician, empath, spicy food enthusiast, photographer, friendly troll, (inhale) introvert whisperer, diver, meme lord, word nerd mentor, community builder, isekai degenerate, mechanical keyboard enthusiast—each of us describes ourselves in a multitude of ways.
…and unique in our experiences
“I'm so thankful my parents put me in many different extracurricular activities during my childhood, as I've been able to feel unique in my ability to wear many different hats and not being afraid to be the first to try new things. Learning how to manage my time allowed me to take on internships during college, leading me to be one of the youngest employees at Discord! Since I am still living in a college environment, I find lots of pride working for Discord.
“From a love of classical music and Broadway shows, to cooking techniques, food cities, and the trials of working in restaurant kitchens, being homeless, organizing events, losing weight, and more, I enjoy having a diverse range of interests and hobbies that have been built by life experiences which are not always obvious at first glance.”
“The various interests that I have really cement to me that I'm just really curious about a lot of things. A friend once told me how surprised they were about the various hobbies I'm interested in.”
“There are a lot of different variables that have made me who I am today, for better or for worse. All in all, I think people have more differences than commonalities.”
Breaking from expectation…
“Growing up, I was often called a tomboy because I spent all my time rough-housing with ‘the boys’ and generally not fitting a lot of molds. It was expected that I should be hardworking, obedient, feminine...and in many ways I am, but defying or challenging these expectations has always been core to my personality.”
“I am an Asian male that wanted to pursue working in mental health, a very female-dominated field. Although I chose a path that was different from the expectations of society, the path I wanted, it came with taxing consequences. Even though parts of it were rewarding, and I still enjoyed the work overall, I was able to see why this path wasn't a normal expectation due to its ramifications.”
“The first time I went against my parent's expectations was when I decided to drop out of STEM, which was an incredibly scary process. I wasn't sure if I would've been disowned at the time, but luckily my family was a lot more supportive of my decision than I thought.”
“I left BigLaw to go work in Europe for four years. It was the first big decision I'd made that went against my parents' expectations and the career path that was expected by people in law. It was scary and possibly a career dead end, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made: I got to travel, have a life outside of work, do things my way without a lot of scrutiny, and figure out what I liked and didn't like on my own.”
“To be honest, it's still a challenge sometimes to balance blending in and seeming normal, but still wanting to be true to myself.”
…while navigating our relationship with heritage and culture
“During COVID & whenever I go back to my parents house, we play mahjong! This was such a great way to keep us connected to our culture, speak more Cantonese, and bond through a game that my grandma still plays each day.”
“My family practices Buddhism and a lot of our culture is passed down through traditions found in our religious practices. I also try to stay as tuned into the community as possible, mostly through volunteering for immigrant communities.”
“One of the easiest ways that I have found is through food; I've always loved cooking, and learning how to cook Korean food has been a way to start conversations and connections. I'm also slowly learning the language and plan to travel to Korea one day.”
“I'm a part of the AAPI ERG committee, so my day-to-day includes talking to the committee members and constantly planning fun activities. Otherwise, I love to bond with other ERG members through movie sessions or discussions about current events!”
“Sadly, I don't, really. Right now, being Asian is mostly about food preferences and trying to silence my inner tiger parent.”
“I've lived and studied in over 14 countries since elementary school, so finding a new home away from home is important to me. Music is just one of those things you can always find anywhere at anytime.”
The effect of generalizations…
“From my experience, there are assumptions around the "weird stuff" that people eat in Asian culture. We can combat these negative impacts by showcasing the cultural significance behind some of the food we eat such as certain dim sum dishes.”
“To name one endemic to tech: the model minority myth really erases any reasoning that Asians may need any type of help or assistance structurally. I think one thing we can really do is talk about what it means to be Asian outside of a predominantly east Asian lens. When I say Asian, most people tend to think of the big 3 which are Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. But there is so much disaggregated data on how specific ethnicities within the Asian category are some of the highest in poverty, lowest on education, etc.”
“A significantly negative generalization of AAPI culture is that Asians naturally perform better in education. Although I do think in some cultures, Asian mentality surrounding education may be quite toxic. I don't think there is a definitive answer fit for every scenario, but understanding boundaries and expectations helps with at least your own personal growth development.”
“Instead of responding back with frustrated emotions, we could use this as an educational moment for those with misunderstandings. We can respond with grace and help them understand. Furthermore, we can take this one step further and ask them about their own culture. At the end of the day, they could clarify our generalizations about their culture too.”
….affects more than just us
“I think there is a misconception that by celebrating one culture specifically, we have less space or capacity for others. But we don't do that for raising awareness for things like disease. Nobody goes to a cancer fundraiser and worries about nobody caring about Alzheimer's. Our differences are what makes us special and beautiful. But despite all of the differences, there are tons of points of commonality. Food, as an example—every culture has its own version of bread!”
We here at Discord’s AAPI ERG wish you a happy AAPI Heritage Month! Find more cool stuff on our Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Interested in a career alongside us at Discord? We’re always hiring, so check out our job listings. See you around!