What originally politicized you?
I posed this question to a staff member of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles during an interview for a project for my Asian Americans and Non-Profits course. As I listened to the staff member’s response, I began to think more deeply about my personal politicization process. I initially attributed my politicization to recent internship opportunities and on-campus involvements. However, as I thought about it further, I identified something even more foundational in the formation of my identity: YouTube.
While some kids indulged in various television shows, YouTube was my refuge. YouTube was a space for people with various passions—whether it was music, comedy, or film—to share their talents and interests in ways that inspired me. I closely followed a variety of YouTubers, witnessing their growth throughout the years. Many of the YouTubers I enjoyed watching happened to be Asian American, which exposed me to a world of individuals who boldly pursued their deeply rooted passions—from telling stories to bringing people together through laughter. While mainstream media did not allow much opportunity for Asian Americans to serve as cultural producers, the YouTubers cultivated an alternative culture of self-empowerment and community-based, grassroots initiatives.
Though I have been influenced and inspired by many individuals and organizations throughout my life, the countless YouTube videos I have watched and the creators of these videos planted a seed of relentless passion within me. This passion has driven me to take risks, such as taking on the challenges of “real life” for 2.5 months during an amazing internship opportunity with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC in Washington, D.C. It has driven me to actively engage with identity politics through working at the AARC as a QuestBridge-identifying student. It has driven me to intellectually challenge and educate myself about legacies of injustice surrounding AAPIs by taking Asian American Studies courses. Relentless passion has driven me to work toward social justice and utilize tactics for social change at the Claremont Colleges and beyond.
–Teofanny Saragi, PO ’18