Cover Sophia Li by Winnie Au

The New York-based journalist and co-host of online social commentary show All of the Above says the Asian American identity is part of the American identity

As part of the reporting for Tatler’s August cover story, we speak to Sophia Li, the co-host of online social commentary show All of the Above, who followed her calling to become a journalist working towards social justice.

While New York-based journalist Sophia Li believes former US President Donald Trump shares a lot of the blame for perpetuating the anti-Asian rhetoric that has led to a wave of abuse towards the community, she says the problem is much more deeply rooted. Many people simply don’t see Asian Americans as “belonging” to the country. “Our identity is not in any US history books; we don’t talk about the Japanese internment camps in the US or the Chinese Exclusion law that happened in the 1800s,” she says. “So [when] they’re not in history books, we’re not learning it. But the Asian American identity is part of the American identity.”

Li says that attitudes need to be changed from an early age, suggesting the Asian American identity “needs to be written in the education system; it needs to be accepted as the norm from when you’re going to school as a child for everyone, not just if you’re going to a Chinese school, but American schools and public schools. That’s the same for Black history. That’s the same for many other histories for indigenous communities as well,” she says.

Although Li says the situation is improving, and there is more acknowledgement of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community, there is still a lot of work to be done. She furthers the effort by publishing articles about her personal experiences, and focusing on social justice during her online show, and working towards a world where inclusion and acceptance are the norm. “When I was younger, I was really good at listening because my English was not there. I didn’t have a voice because I didn’t know the language,” she says. “One of the reasons I’m a journalist today is because I believe that every voice should be heard—I didn’t feel like that was the case when I was younger.

“And it’s not about who’s the loudest or the most confident. It’s about what stories matter to shift perspectives and move the needle.”

See also: Gemma Chan Signs on to Produce Podcast About the 1982 Murder of Vincent Chin