Emma Tang: Intersectional.abc

Tell us about yourself! What first compelled you to create this account? And what did it mean to you at the time?

My name is Emma, I’m seventeen years old and a first generation immigrant. My account is @intersectional.abc: intersectional and American Born Chinese. Intersectional, because without it, the movement results in fighting for women that benefit from many faces of privilege and often leaves out other sides of oppression. I first made this account about two months after the Women’s March in 2017 that I attended. I had been angry the entirety of Trump’s presidential campaign, but I had no way to articulate that anger and frustration. In addition to training as a competitive figure skater, I was a full time high school student as well as a piano student. I learned a lot of my activism and argumentative skills through social media, but I didn’t like a lot of the content that I was seeing, so I created @intersectional.abc to better control the narrative. At the time, it was just a way for me to declare my views and be angry (I lived in a conservative state). I saw it as my outlet to openly express my disgust for the president and his entire cabinet.

How did your own identity fueled your work for you and how did it influence what you chose to create?

Emma Tang 2.jpeg

As a person who crosses over in many intersections, I feel that it is my duty to stand up for issues specifically that affect me as well as ones that don’t. As a Taiwanese-American, I named my account “abc” to emphasize the need for Asian activism. The way I see it, Asian-Americans are frequently not included in activism, because we are often not seen as real “people of color”. Therefore, we are generally stuck in an awkward grey area between white and brown people. We face “real” racism and those “positive” stereotypes about us hurt us in the long run. Since my people are usually misrepresented in the media—if even in the media—I try to showcase how diverse we are individually as well as racially. As a student and a member of Generation Z, I’d prefer to not have to choose between being shot dead in my school or suffocating from pollution while being buried under thousands of dollars worth of college debt. Speaking of climate change control, I advocate for the usage of biodegradable plastics as well as buying from eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and vegan companies. I make sure that the companies I work with are also earth-friendly, because it would be hypocritical for me to go against my own activist beliefs. My identity influences my posts, because much of my content specifically relates to issues that I face as a person. For example, if comparing two posts, one that discusses transgender rights and the other on the destigmatization of bisexuality, I would choose to post on the destigmatization of bisexuality, not because I don’t support transgender rights, but because the stigma of bisexuality affects me on a personal level. However, that isn’t to say I don’t post on issues that don’t affect me—this is why intersectionality is important! If people only fought for issues that directly pertained to their identities, some issues would get a lot more attention than others and we would still have identities left behind. Feminism is for every kind of person, no matter gender, sexuality, race, ability, etc.

What does this account mean to you now? How has it changed over time?

When I first made this account, like I said earlier, it was a way for me to express my disappointment in America and specifically my hatred towards Donald Trump. I understand that hate is a strong word and you’re supposed to “kill with kindness” or whatever, but I have no intention to love and accept the president into changing his policies. I also have no intention of killing the president—just putting that out there. I never advocate for violence. I also don’t advocate for blind optimism. By putting positive energy into a space where there is no chance of it changing the status quo, it’s—quite frankly—a waste of energy. That energy could have been used to fight. The world is not a Disney film—not every villain just needs a hug to wash away the evil. I never thought or expected my account to grow so large and for it to ever have affected people on a personal level. My account went from an outlet for me to rant to a platform where I could change minds and educate people. I’m proud to say that I’ve even changed some Trump-supporters’ minds about what feminism is! In the beginning of my account, I used to call out and reply to every disruptive comment. Almost two years later, the comments I reply to are generally the most headstrong and I reply in the same tone of voice that they wrote with. I’m no longer afraid of using all caps and a little fire, but while still refuting their comment with logic and reason. This account has not only taught me how to ignore the haters, but also how to stand my ground. I know what I advocate for and I refuse to compromise my morals. However, I don’t believe that I’ll ever be done learning. My bio states that I’m a “feminist-in-progress” because I believe that there is always more to know and room to grow.

Emma Tang.jpeg

How does the world affect the way you manage your account?  

I generally post news stories and ongoing crises on my account. I usually get anywhere from ten to twenty requests to post specific topics, stories, or specific posts. I have found though, that people don’t read long captions. I like to say that my followers have the attention span of hamsters. Long captioned posts don’t get any traction, while short and concise twitter posts have generally been some of my highest ranked posts. Sometimes when I see a situation that I have something specific to say, I use my own twitter account and write out the post. Recently, I have done this for the STEM school shooting which happened only an hour away from where I live, and on the topic of veganism. I would say the world news definitely affects the content of my account and the way I have to manage it. I’ve faced firsthand body shaming from complete strangers, racists, sexists, homophobes—you name it and I’ve gotten people like that on my page. This page has taught me how to manage my emotions, choose which battles to fight, and has given me a glimpse of the cruelty of people. It’s not all negative though. It has taught me how to be kinder, more sensitive, and broadened my world sense. I feel as though I have a greater understanding of the world and global politics after managing this account, even if what I’ve learned is usually not good news.

To you, what is a feminist? An activist?

A feminist is, by definition, anyone who believes in the equality of the sexes. However, by my definition feminism is not limited to just that. Feminism without intersectionality is white supremacy. This is because early suffragettes, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, etc all advocated fiercely against the rights of people of color in order to advance their own agenda. In the modern time, feminism must be intersectional. Intersectionality can be thought of as a cross-roads or a traffic stop. At one end you might have race; at another gender; at another sexuality; at another ethnicity, and so on. For me, I cross all sorts of intersections in my identity as a bisexual Asian American female coming from a generation of immigrants. It’s important that we let people talk while we sit back and listen, and vice versa. Just like at a traffic intersection, if we all go at the same time, we’ll crash and people will be hurt. A true feminist not only fights for their intersections, but also that of the intersections that they don’t belong to or identify with either. An activist, to me, not only believes in the idea of feminism, but ACTS on their beliefs to make society more just. The word is ACTivist, after all. As with feminism, activism must be intersectional as well. There is nothing wrong with advocating for something specifically. Many prominent activists fought for one or two injustices in particular, because no one can fight for everything. For example, Ida B Wells not only fought for women, but also people of color, namely black women. Malala Yousafzai is known for her fight in girl’s education. Emma Watson is known for her fight in women’s equality. If these activists were to try and fight for every single issue out there, they probably wouldn’t have accomplished as much as they have. Both feminists and activists share many similarities in beliefs, but I believe that the difference between them is that an activist acts upon their beliefs, no matter through social media, leading protests, or even writing reports.

Zehra Naqvi