To: Cross Cultural Center Administration
We, as the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) at the University of California, Irvine, believe that Wong Fu Productions is not a good representation of Asian Pacific Islanders (API) for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival (formerly known as the Rainbow Festival). We acknowledge that they were chosen by a student committee of the Cross-Cultural Center Festival. However, as keynote speakers for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival, they do not fulfill the mission of the festival, which is a “celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity and also a look into social justice issues.”
Wong Fu Productions are Youtube stars and is popular among young APIs. However, their work generally focuses on a socioeconomically privileged and ethnically narrow portrayal of APIs that fails to acknowledge the full spectrum of API identities. Also, we as APSA want to address the problematic stereotypes that they perpetuate.
We as APSA do not feel Wong Fu Productions is an accurate representation of the API community, and should not be a keynote representation of people of color in media for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival. Instead, they contribute to the development of various stereotypes that have provided a very inaccurate portrayal of the API community. Their work supports the existence of the model minority myth because their videos often feature middle/upper class, hetero-normative East Asians.
The Cross-Cultural Center has brought in keynote speakers that represent the API community through their activism and efforts towards social justice such as Helen Zia and Vijay Prashad. Past keynote speakers for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival truly fulfilled the Cross-Cultural Center’s mission statement by “fostering cultural identities within their communities and providing opportunities for intellectual exchange, student leadership development, and community engagement.”
Although there have been videos where Wong Fu Productions have brought to light API stereotypes, these productions only scratch the surface regarding social justice and pressing issues impacting the community. Members of their audience have commented that they identify along with these stereotypes, but Wong Fu Productions has not gone further to educate about these stereotypes or to present an educational discussion regarding how these stereotypes harm the API community.
The issues we want to address in Wong Fu Productions’ selection are:
(1) The lack of critical awareness and activism in keynote selection.
We understand that Wong Fu Productions will be speaking at UC Irvine as the keynote for the Cross-Cultural Center. Although Wong Fu Productions may allow the Cross-Cultural Center Festival to be a successful and well attended event, their position as a keynote speaker does not align with the missions and values of the festival itself. But we must emphasize as APSA that more inclusive decisions and communication with community members in the decision-making process could have been made.
We as APSA demand for:
Asian Pacific Student Association at the University of California, Irvine