Angela Jiang: Chinese American Activist Who’s Good At Breaking Things
Last weekend, the United Nations Foundation and Mashable, a versatile media company, came together to host another year of the Social Good Summit, opening up the United Nations General Assembly week. Attendees were given the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers from very diverse backgrounds, ranging from musicians, UN diplomats, actors (namely a certain crowd favorite – Whoopi Goldberg), to young activists.
Amongst the young activists, I sought to interview a 16 year old Chinese American who serves as the Teen Advisor to Girl Up, the United Nation Foundation’s notable adolescent girl campaign. A coveted position, the current UN Youth Observer, Munira Khalif shared the same role in a previous class of advisors. Angela ‘Angie’ Wei Jiang, a current high school student was friendly to approach and gave honest and introspective look into her work in breaking things, namely gender roles and racial stereotypes.
Perhaps, I felt comfortable approaching and conversing with her because although there was vibrant diversity in the room (I’m at a United Nations sponsored event after all), we share an experience: specifically, an Asian American experience and more specifically, a Chinese American experience here at a UN event.
Asian Americans, though diverse and growing at a rapid pace, still remain largely invisible in the U.S. political sphere. As a first generation Chinese American, I, like most of my fellow peers who broadly fall under the Asian American label, was not encouraged to pursue careers that did not fit into socially constructed ideas of success, which so often included becoming a doctor or lawyer. Jiang related to my experience explaining that, “Even though, East Asian parents see that there’s a set path to success, find spaces where you can find success. This is my calling.” It was refreshing to come across someone like Angela Jiang, who although I had initially known little about, was someone I felt an instant connection to when delving into our experiences with political engagement and community activism.
Not only did our conversation center around the underrepresentation of Asian Americans in U.S. politics, we also shared a lengthy discussion on the lack of AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) representation in mass media. To which, Jiang stated that if there is not already a space for AAPI, “[there is] space to carve for ourselves.” This is exactly what she is doing as the youngest Asian American speaker this past weekend at the Social Good Summit.
Jiang’s points shared a powerful and clear message: there is a lot of clash between cultural norms, but there can be compromise. She exemplifies an attitude fit for peacekeeping and conflict resolution with her ability to demonstrate that there is often times room for compromise, no matter how challenging cultural clash may seem. And indeed, Angela Jiang is living proof of that.