a Protanopia b Deuteranopia c Tritanopia

The Importance of AANHPI “Girl Bosses”

My name is Olivia Beach. I am a 21-year-old junior in college and when I grow up, I want to be just like my mom. As a second-generation Vietnamese American woman, my appearance favors my American genes leaving me with an almost hidden identity. However, one aspect of my outward appearance cannot be concealed, my gender. Although it often goes unnoticed, my diverse background has everything to do with the woman I am and the one I hope to become. Inside and out, my mother is a proud Asian American woman, or in my own words, a girl boss. She raised my younger sister and me to understand the importance of the more traditional Asian American values of family, hard work, respect, and service. Rather than lecturing us on these values, she demonstrates their importance with her actions. Despite the role this piece of her identity plays, she could never be categorized as a stereotypical Asian American woman or mother. She is not passive nor a “dragon lady,” she values education and hard work but does not let them consume her life, she is strict but does not set the expectation of perfection and believes there is more than one path to success. It is because of my mom that I understand the beauty and value of being both Asian American and a woman.

My mother embodies what it means to be a “girl boss.” I began calling her this in elementary school as I watched her take on her new role as a single mother to two daughters. I may never understand how she did this with such grace but as mysterious as it is, it was not at all unexpected. My mom has always been strong, hardworking, and high-achieving but in recent years she has grown in her confidence as an Asian American woman and leader. I distinctly remember when she went through the APAWLI Fellowship Program because she became more open and honest with my sister and me about what it means to be not only an Asian American woman but a strong, confident, and powerful Asian American woman. It was not until high school that I truly understood the importance of this and why it meant so much to her.

Throughout high school, I participated in debate competitions where the majority of my teammates and opponents were boys. At first, I thought nothing of this but it was naive of me to assume that no one else took into account that I was usually the only girl in the room. This was a rude awakening as I would either be met with an almost insultingly soft handshake or, more often than not, left standing with my hand outstretched as my opponents disregarded my presence and, instead, approached my male debate partner to exchange congratulations and express respect. Of course, I eventually told my mother and she immediately asked how I responded. The answer was simple: I lowered my hand and put on a brave face while my partner did the talking. What my mother said next has quite literally changed my life: “It’s not like girls have cooties or something Liv, you must demand respect.” Although unfair, respect is not always given to women who do not demand it.  So, I took a lesson from my mother’s playbook and challenged the next boy who tried to walk away from my gesture of respect and told him, “It’s okay, girls don’t have cooties you know.” While I still receive some of those handshakes that leave me wanting to have the person try again, I have not had my hand ignored since.

This was the first of many lessons from my mom about gaining respect from others and growing your respect for yourself. She has taught me to speak my mind even when it seems impossible while maintaining the value of respect. She has taught me to work hard but not to let my hard work go unnoticed or consume my life. She has taught me to serve others by treating them as I wish to be treated and not to stand by those who treat others poorly. Most importantly, she has taught me that family is the foundation of character. My mother is a girl boss and without her, I do not know if I would have the tools to become one as well. I believe it is beyond reasonable to say as Asian American women, we face a unique set of challenges due to this intersectionality of race and gender. Although my experiences differ from my mother’s, watching her take on every challenge that comes her way with confidence and poise gives me the confidence to face my own. Everyone needs a role model that inspires this kind of self-certainty whether that be in the home, the community, or in the media. Girl bosses can change the world and visible girl bosses can motivate others to do the same. Many of us have been told that representation matters because quite frankly it does. It is empowering to see people who look and think like you achieve goals you never thought possible. It is inspiring to see my mother, as young me would say, “conquering the world” all while sharing her knowledge and experience with other Asian American women. Change is happening and I do hope that one day we can establish that girls do not have cooties.

About the Author: Olivia Beach is a second-generation Vietnamese American currently residing in Allen, Texas. She is a junior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice. After graduation, she is looking to attend law school and find a career in public policy.

Does the Model Minority Myth Affect Asian American Students?

Many of us have some level of understanding about the  model minority myth. I am sure many of you reading this have experienced firsthand the negative effects of the model minority myth. Only now at 21 years old am I able to admit that I have been affected by it. It makes me wonder how many people, like me, go through life oblivious to the idea that race and ethnicity impact so many aspects of our day-to-day lives. It is a privilege I acknowledge and am learning to accept as I grapple with being a White-passing young Asian American woman that looks as if she could never understand what it means to be a part of this minority group due to my appearance. This identity dilemma followed me to college as I struggled to decide whether or not to check that extra box next to “Asian” under the race section on my applications. For some reason, I had this idea in my head that acknowledging who I am to these college admissions boards could hurt my chances of getting in. Because all Asian Americans are smart and hardworking, right? Would my resume and transcripts be more impressive if I identified as only White? As college admission season rolls around again, I have talked with many high school seniors contemplating this same decision. I wanted to know why so many of us feel a sense of hesitation, or even fear when checking that extra box and what I found was a wealth of information on the debate about whether college admissions leave Asian American students out of affirmative action programs and policies. Before researching the various perspectives on this topic, I did not know enough to have a concrete opinion. However, after reading about various students’ personal experiences and the numbers behind each perspective I cannot say I do not have a strong opinion on this topic. That being said, although I am not neutral this article will focus only on the information I found.

One side of this debate argues that universities do, in fact, discriminate against AAPI students. Many focus on distinguished universities, such as Harvard and the other Ivy League schools as having policies that allow for the discrimination of AAPI students in the admissions process. An interesting article by the Asian American Coalition for Education identifies trends regarding the acceptance rates of Asian American students’ college admissions. The article reports that in recent years, lawsuits have been filed against Harvard University on the grounds of discrimination against Asian American students. Statistics from 2012 seem to support this theory as enrollment of Asian American students at Harvard dropped drastically in the early 90s and then remained stable over the last 20 years despite the fact that the Asian American population in the United States has more than doubled in that same time period. As of 2009 with respect to elite college admissions, Asian American students had the lowest acceptance rate for each SAT score bracket and those who were accepted scored between 140-450 points higher than White or other minority students. One of the theories behind this side of the argument is that Asian American students are being excluded from affirmative action efforts on account of the stereotype that as the “model minority” they must meet higher standards to be deemed successful.

The other side of this debate continues to focus on Asian American admissions to the most competitive universities saying that with the increase in the Asian American population over the last 20 years, there has been a subsequent increase in the number of applications. An article detailing a study by Georgetown University’s Center of Education on this topic shares that Asian American students are more likely to apply to competitive colleges regardless of their test scores compared to non-Asian American students; again, increasing the number of applications and rejections for those students with lower test scores. Another popular argument on this side points out statistics on the success of the Asian American population. For example, in a New York Times article, an excerpt of a letter written to the Harvard Crimson a student pointed out that, by all accounts, Asian Americans “have attained an above-average standard of living.” Data from the Pew

Research Center supports this theory with collected data on average income and educational attainment for Asian Americans being higher than the national average. While this data acknowledges the diversity within Asian origin groups, it is being used to support the notion that Asian Americans, overall, are successful. Based on my findings, this side of the debate makes no attempt to say that Asian American students benefit from affirmative action efforts and programs but that they are not hurt by this process and look to other factors that contribute to what appears to be a gap between the Asian American student population and admission to competitive universities.

With all this being said, I must point out the lack of numerical data as well as testimonials available on both sides of this debate. It took hours to find reliable information that I felt confident in not only sharing with the public but also forming my own opinion on. Of course, it is always easy to say more research needs to be done and while it is often true I do believe much more research needs to be done on this topic. I will reiterate that this is not meant to be a persuasive piece, however, this is impacting Asian American students in one way or another. At the very least, we know that the stereotypes perpetuated by the model minority myth have an impact on the way young Asian American students think about themselves in their college application process. Continued research on possible discrimination against this minority group must be performed alongside efforts to abolish the model minority myth because no student should have to worry about checking that extra box.

About the Author: Olivia Beach is a second-generation Vietnamese American currently residing in Allen, Texas. She is a  junior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice. After graduation, she is looking to attend law school and find a career in public policy.

The Reality of Anti-Asian Hate

[This article is meant to highlight the rise and continued invisibility of anti-Asian hate crimes occurring throughout the country with no intention to invalidate or minimize racism and violence towards other races and ethnic groups. If change is to occur, we must all work together in solidarity to demand equity for all minority groups.]

The history of racism toward AANHPI groups is long; it is riddled with exclusion, violence, and discrimination. From exclusionary immigration policies, mass lynchings, Japanese internment camps, the Vietnam War, and the murder of Vincent Chin to present-day anti-Chinese rhetoric perpetuated by the former presidential administration and U.S. politicians, anti-Asian sentiments remain an ongoing issue.


To give some perspective on the reality of just how severe this issue has become, specifically since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the FBI reported a 77% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes between 2019 and 2020. This trend continued between 2020 and 2021 as data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSUSB) revealed more than a 300 percent increase in reports of anti-Asian hate crimes. Additionally, advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate recorded a total of almost 11,000 self-reported incidents from March 2020 to December 2021

Even with these alarming numbers, it appears as though anti-Asian hate crimes continue to remain invisible with a lack of media coverage and conversations on the issue. Very little AANHPI history is included in most school curriculums. In fact, even as a Vietnamese American, I did not know about many of these events until I began my research for this article. If I, as a person who is a part of the AANHPI community, was not aware of the extent of this history then are my peers of different races and ethnicities at all aware? The conclusion I have come to is “mmm not really.” I have sat down with a few of my close friends who identify as White and none of them knew about any of the history that is not formally taught in school, or the extent of anti-Asian hate crimes occurring today. This is not to say that all people of different races and ethnicities are ignorant to these realities as I do not wish to make that generalization, only to further highlight this seemingly invisible reality that so many face. Again, even I was largely unaware. However, in order to see an end to these horrifying statistics, knowledge and awareness are a necessity.

There are so many important facets of this issue that deserve attention and I wish I could cover all of them in a short article but that would be nearly impossible. My only hope for this article is to bring attention to the lack of knowledge about the past and present realities of anti-Asian hate and call on those with knowledge, experience, and platforms to begin and/or continue to share with those of us who are now starting our work towards change. Change in the way AANHPI groups are seen in American culture. Change in how they are treated. Change in the opportunities available to them. Change in the system. However, change cannot grow from ignorance and will never be achieved without action. As a young person, I know there is a long road ahead in the pursuit of change, but I would be remiss if I did not use my voice as part of this effort and encourage those around me to do the same. If change is to occur for one of us, it must occur for all of us. We must all work together in solidarity to demand equity for all minority groups. We do not have to work alone, rather, we have the ability to work alongside one another in our efforts to secure the future we want for generations to come. I will leave you with this question, what are you doing to achieve the change you seek?


About the Author: Olivia Beach is a second-generation Vietnamese American currently residing in Allen, Texas. She is a rising junior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice. After graduation she is looking to attend law school and find a career in public policy.

July Newsletter

Our first monthly newsletter is here! Keep up with our work from the past, present, and future!

Download the newsletter here: CAPAW July Newsletter


Am I Asian Enough?

My name is Olivia Beach. I am 20 years old, a rising junior at Villanova University, majoring in Political Science with the hopes of attending law school. I am also a quarter Vietnamese. I say this last because when you look at me, you may not see this small but vital part of who I am. Some have told me that they could tell I was not completely White or that there was just something “a little bit off they could not quite put their finger on.” It may sound odd but I take these comments as compliments because it means they can see that hidden piece of me. Typically, those who make these comments also come from a diverse background. I wish more people, not just of mixed backgrounds, were able to see the diversity of my background and upbringing that makes me who I am.

To put it in perspective, my mom was born in Vietnam as the youngest of eight but the only one with an American father. Although she is half Vietnamese and grew up in the United States, she is fluent in the language and grew up with a mother who did not speak English. She was raised with Asian values and traditions despite being surrounded by American culture. These values and traditions have been passed down to my sister and I, as we grew up looking White but identifying with Vietnamese culture.

One of my most recent experiences with this conflict of identity happened in the classroom during a small group discussion about race and diversity. I was in a group with two White students and one immediately said, “Well since we are all obviously White, I am sure we can relate to one another.” Although I know my appearance screams White and I can relate to many stereotypical White experiences, I felt as though part of my identity had been taken away at that moment. I quickly made the correction and redirected the conversation to center around others like me, who do not completely identify with what their appearance says about them.
Although I can appreciate the lack of Asian stereotyping and struggles I experience due to my appearance, I often feel like the alternative of assuming I am completely White is also misleading. I relate to more than a stereotypical White young woman and have experienced Vietnamese culture in a way that has shaped how I act, think, and feel.
My experience is unique and very difficult to navigate. I often find myself asking where I belong. Do I belong in the AANHPI community I identify with? Or, am I supposed to give in to the assumption that I look White so I must identify as such? Although I am only 20 and have not fully answered these questions for myself, I do know that my appearance does not define me. I do not fit into the boxes that society has created and that is okay. I have the unique gift of being able to identify and relate with two large groups of people. I have the opportunity to encourage others like myself to form our own “box” and use our voices for the different groups we identify with. Identity is personal and is not always black and white. This gray area I find myself in now is one of opportunity and it is my responsibility to use that space to speak up along with those who are demanding change and equality.

About the Author: Olivia Beach is a second-generation Vietnamese American currently residing in Allen, Texas. She is a rising junior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice. After graduation she is looking to attend law school and find a career in public policy.

The Dichotomy of the Term “Model Minority” When it Comes to AANHPI Women in Leadership

When it comes to conversations about different minority groups, the AANHPI community is often referred to as the “model minority.” The term model minority alludes to the generalization that AANHPI individuals are polite, rule-abiding, hardworking, well educated, and highly successful. This seemingly positive stereotype disguises many harmful effects; namely, it ignores the diversity of AANHPI cultures and allows for the racism against AANHPI groups to be ignored, among many other things.

Statistics on AANHPI men and women in executive positions versus White men and women reveal a major disparity between the two. However, when talking specifically about AANHPI women in leadership, this gap grows even wider. This difference can be attributed to the intersectionality between race and gender. This intersectionality brings about a different challenge for AANHPI women in the workplace: the “bamboo ceiling.” Although conversations about the “glass ceiling” are common when referring to the disparity between men and women in leadership positions, conversations about the “bamboo ceiling” are not as prevalent. When compared to their White counterparts, AANHPI women are half as likely to become executives. Even when compared to AANHPI men, AANHPI women remain less likely to be promoted. In other words, AANHPI women face a “double-paned glass ceiling.”

The idea that AANHPI women are hardworking and successful, perpetuated by the term model minority, often results in AANHPI women becoming the “forgotten minority.” Leading to their exclusion from conversations about racial bias in the workplace as well as efforts towards inclusion and diversity. Additionally, these perceptions make it difficult for AANHPI women to insert themselves into these conversations. A recent Forbes article details the experience of an AANHPI woman working at an insurance company who describes her situation as lose/lose. She feels if she is assertive and speaks up, she breaks the stereotype of keeping her head down and working hard and would be met with hostile reactions. However, if she maintains the submissive stereotype her thoughts and opinions will be ignored. While this is not an uncommon occurrence for AANHPI women in the workplace, hope for a more equitable future remains due to work environments that welcome and encourage diversity. During a brief interview with Madelene Xuan-Trang Mielke, current President and CEO of the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), she shared her own perspective and experience by saying, “AANHPI women continue to face traditional gender stereotypes and cultural challenges in the workplace. Although I have not faced this situation in my own experience, I developed leadership skills due to being in a positive work environment where advocates and champions from all communities fully embraced my authentic self, which resulted in me growing into an empathetic leader.” In order for AANHPI women to break through the many barriers they face, we must all work together to embrace the diversity they bring to the table and reject the use of the term model minority.

The dichotomy of the term model minority is glaringly evident when discussing the bamboo ceiling faced by AANHPI women in the workforce. It allows the racial bias experienced by AANHPI women to be ignored as well as their continued exclusion from conversations about workplace bias. It perpetuates an illusion of success that prevents opportunities for advancement. This harmful stereotype disguised as a compliment hinders the ability for AANHPI women to sit at the head of the table as representatives for the community. Raising awareness of this representation gap is the first step in narrowing this divide and correcting the popular misconception that the AANHPI community is fairly represented. It is time for everyone, not just AANHPIs, to reject the use of the term model minority and address the harm it has done in order for AANHPI women to break through the bamboo ceiling.

About the Author: Olivia Beach is a second-generation Vietnamese American currently residing in Allen, Texas. She is a rising junior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice. After graduation she is looking to attend law school and find a career in public policy

Digital Equity for Native Hawaiians

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted nearly every aspect of life as we knew it. Two years later, we are only just returning to some sense of normalcy, however, returning to normal is not the goal for everyone. For some, this life-altering experience has highlighted the many areas where inequality continues to persist. 

For Native Hawaiians, the Covid-19 pandemic brought national attention to the lack of broadband infrastructure and access in the state. As students were directed to resume their education virtually, employees instructed to work from home, and doctors referring patients to their telehealth services, it became nearly impossible to live a productive life without an internet capable device. 

Prior to the pandemic, the 2019 American Community Survey revealed that 8.7% of Native Hawaiians did not have an internet subscription compared to 4.6% of the state’s overall population. A lack of broadband infrastructure, internet capable devices, affordable services, and technological knowledge specifically in rural and low income areas disproportionately impacts Native Hawaiians’ chances for upward mobility. 

So, now, as the rest of the world excitedly attempts to return to life as it was before the pandemic, Native Hawaiians demand more. Beginning in the fall of 2020, Hawaii’s state government released its strategy for building a more equitable broadband infrastructure. A group known as the Broadband Hui then released its first Digital Equity Declaration. Most recently in July of 2021, Governor Ige created the Hawaii Broadband & Digital Equity Office within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. The $160 million set aside in President Biden’s infrastructure bill dedicated to improving the state’s broadband framework will hopefully turn the state’s strategic plans into reality. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has been a period of pain and suffering especially for those who were already faced with the many challenges of inequality, it has also brought about a glimmer of hope for those who demand equity for Native Hawaiians in the form of access to technology.

This topic is now more important than ever. Although it has been a longstanding issue, the pandemic has prompted Hawaii’s state government to develop a plan for improving its broadband infrastructure. The federal funding now underway completes the how piece to this puzzle. The why piece lies in equality for Native Hawaiians. Access to the internet will allow Native Hawaiians various opportunities for upward mobility such as increased educational and economic opportunities as well as the ability to virtually participate in federal and state governments. This issue is not as simple as giving Native Hawaiians access to the internet and internet capable devices but the importance of the resources that will become available to them. Progress towards digital equity will hopefully bring about equity in other areas for Native Hawaiians.

About the Author: Olivia Beach is a second-generation Vietnamese American currently residing in Allen, Texas. She is a rising junior at Villanova University majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice. After graduation she is looking to attend law school and find a career in public policy.

Announcing the 2022 APAWLI Class.

Introducing the 2022 Cohort of the leadership program by the Center for Asian Pacific American Women Leadership Institute.

Our mission: Building whole person leaders one at a time.

Our vision: Be the premier organization developing AANHPI women to be impactful and influential leaders.

Get out the Count!

The 2020 Census is less than a year away and we need your help to achieve a complete count of our communities. There is a lot at stake for us in 2020, including hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding allocated towards transportation, education, and social services. Did you know that Asians are least likely to report intention to complete the census?

We are partnering with Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) to bring the Norman Y. Mineta Leadership Institute (NYMLI) to your city.

We ask and strongly encourage that you attend. APIAVote will conduct an engaging and educational training on how to mobilize for the Census. The training will incorporate best practices in reaching out to all sectors of the AAPI community.

During the NYMLI training, expect to…

Be introduced to the 2020 Census and Lessons Learned from 2010

Become an expert and learn how to answer frequently asked questions and address specific scenarios faced by your community

Learn how to effectively recruit volunteers and train future leaders

Learn how to talk strategically about the Census and its impact in your area

Take part in breakouts to share best practices and strategies for ethnic-specific working groups as we help you develop a regional outreach plan

Report: AAPI Women 3x More Likely to Report Racist Discrimination Than Men Over Last Week


March 30, 2020

NAPAWF Contact: Nikki Metzgar
(202) 599-7642 / nmetzgar@napawf.org

CAPAW Contact: Sue Ann Hong
(309) 287-6240 / sahong@apawomen.org

Washington, D.C. — A new study by the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action details more than 650 direct reports of discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) people since March 19. These incidents of discrimination range from racial slurs to being barred from businesses to cases of physical abuse. AAPI women have reported three times more instances of harassment than men.

The President himself, along with other elected officials, have taken to referring to the coronavirus as “the Chinese Virus” and using other racial slurs fueling hate crimes against AAPIs through the association of the illness with persons of Asian descent across the nation, against the World Health Organization’s recommendation.

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow issued the following statement in response:

“Not only are AAPI people staying in our homes because we are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but now we are increasingly alarmed that we’ll be targeted with harassment and violence because of our race, ethnicity, or national origin if we step outside to obtain necessities or work at our essential jobs, including in health care. This appears to be especially true for AAPI women who, because of our gender, are painfully aware every minute even under normal circumstances, we could be subjected to sexual harassment, physical intimidation, or assault.

“The ‘model minority’ myth invisiblizes the AAPI community until there’s a need for someone to scapegoat — then we are to blame for the administration’s failure and the thousands of lives needlessly lost because officials were busy being careless and racist instead of preparing our nation for a pandemic. Let me be clear: we are not to blame. The virus does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or national origin and our government officials must stop using racist language and publicly denounce hate crimes against us.”

The Center for Asian Pacific American Women’s President & CEO Sue Ann Hong issued the following statement in response:

Asian American Businesses, especially owned by women play an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy. Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) own 6.2% of all small businesses in the U.S, employing more than 3.5 million people. In 2018, 1.1 million Asian American businesses were owned by women, up by 7% from 2016, yet AAPI women continue to face disproportionate challenges in several ways, including discrimination during the Coronavirus pandemic.

With shelter-in-place policies, AAPIs are more likely to face Coronavirus discrimination in businesses, especially stores and it’s taking a toll on businesses. It’s unacceptable that AAPI women are three times more likely to report harassment than men, according to data collected by Dr. Russell Jeung, PhD at San Francisco State University. These are hard working women, business owners, leaders and contributing members of society who deserve respect and support. Verbal harassment and shunning cause fear that negatively impacts the safety of the AAPI community and the economy. This is the time for communities to come together, support one another and fight the true enemy, and that’s the pandemic.”

he National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.

The Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW) strives to nurture Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities by expanding leadership capacity, fostering awareness of AAPI issues, creating a supportive network of AAPI women leaders and strengthening community.