I spoke to Mic about an open letter I signed with colleagues about the exclusion of brown Asians in a New York Times video about Asian Americans. Here's an excerpt:
Ali Mattu, who identifies as South Asian and is an associate professor at Columbia University Medical Center, also co-signed the open letter addressed to the Times. He said he was excited to watch the video, then slowly realized that no South Asians were featured.
The exclusion of brown Asians is probably because, Mattu said, Filipinos and South Asians are often not considered to be Asian.
"When you say the words 'Asian-American,' to most people the experience that typically comes up doesn't reflect the experiences of South Asians or Filipinos."
Mattu said that may cause a cyclical problem — the more South Asians feel excluded from the term "Asian-American" the more they may choose to exclude themselves.
"A lot of brown Asians don't necessarily identify as Asian-American and may not join groups or causes that they see as not really representing them," Mattu said. "They don't see faces and experiences and voices and languages that reflect their experience."