Good Morning McCann: Asian Pacific Heritage Month
On Thursday, May 30th, in honor of Asian Pacific Heritage month, I was one of five panelists who joined a moderator for a panel discussion onAsian Pacific Heritage. We discussed issues revolving around AAPI’s perception in the workplace, breaking the “model minority” myth and reflecting on recent AAPI achievements in the film and media industries.
One of the first questions revolved around brands that connect with an AAPI audience. All of us struggled to name just one brand that engaged us.
While we agreed that AAPI presence in film and popular culture has increased drastically through shows and movies that feature an AAPI in a leading role – such as Ali Wong and Kumail Nanjiani -- none of us could voice brands that have truly connected with our audience. And by connecting, I don’t mean solely putting an AAPI in a commercial as the face of the brand, but rather tapping into the unique cultural richness we represent as a market. We all resolved that starting to connect brands with our culture would be a priority for us as we grow into our roles here at McCann.
The panel then shifted to focus on the AAPI perception in the workplace, as well as cultural appropriations we face daily. In terms of perception, due to the “model minority myth” – a demographic group whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average – we’re viewed as if we’re privileged, when that’s not necessarily the case. Some of the panelists say this “Asian success” myth leads to AAPI being overlooked as a minority group.
The discussion then turned to cultural appropriation. The first examples of this fell in the category of food, such as the recent adoption of the“turmeric latte”. Another is the samosa. We discussed how the mainstream popularity of these foods is a positive, but that many non-AAPI have little understanding of the significance and historical weight such foods hold. A samosa represents so much of our cultural heritage. One panelist brought up the well-known case of Arielle Haspel’s Lucky Lee’s restaurant. Arielle Haspel, a white woman, opened a “healthy” Chinese restaurant and made public comments about how normal Lo Mein makes a diner feel “icky & bloated”; she boasted that her version of the food was healthier, which was widely criticized for being a lack of understanding on her part, coming from her a limited exposure to the history of Chinese food and culture.
As we wrapped up the panel, we each shared a personal story of one part of our heritage we feel makes us unique. And as I was listening to the answers – some people struggled to tell their parents they wanted to pursue an unconventional work field; one person talked about being halfCaucasian and half Japanese -- I realized a thread that ties us all together. The term “AAPI” is inclusive of so many cultures, languages, foods, traditions and more, but we all have one commonality: pride. We are proud of our background, proud of the challenges we’ve overcome either in the workplace or simply in the 5th grade cafeteria when we ate curry and had people question what that was.
Thank you, McCann, for recognizing us as a minority and letting our voice be heard.