The name Alyssa Ho should be known by most people. Not only is she a creative entrepreneur and writer but she is also a social media influencer who has a 20K + following on her “Alyssa Ho Writings” Instagram account. In recent years her Instagram posts have been focused on raising the awareness about anti-Asian hate in Australia as well as call out public displays of casual racism. From sharing her own experiences of racism to calling out public figures – e.g. Georgia Love incident, supporting campaigns such as the #stopasianhate Australia and global campaigns and calling out sexual racism against Asian women in dating and in the public, Ho is bringing awareness to these important issues one post at a time.
Her social media advocacy has made impact on how anti-Asian racism is seen in Australia and she has used her large platform to raise this awareness. In a recent interview she did with us, Ho talks about the evolution to her becoming an advocate for Asian Australians and why she feels it’s important to continually keep the issue up in the mainstream.
For me personally as a Vietnamese and more broadly Asian Australian, I feel it is important to raise issues about racism and not be afraid to have these conversations. When I started to talk about these issues, I naively went into it with the hope of changing people’s minds and having them understand why racism is wrong. That got exhausting quickly and it almost became impossible to continue. I realised that it wasn’t about getting everyone to understand me and us, but what was important was that raising awareness of these issues is more for ourselves and the Asian community than anyone else. It’s to help one another and to heal. To make one another feel seen, heard and respected.
I wanted to talk about things like racial microaggressions and amplify the voices of those who are often silenced, but I find those who don’t face racism tend to brush it off like it’s a joke. These things have happened for far too long and have become commonplace. I feel the Asian community are starting to realise this and are turning their pain and frustration into something more – they’re stepping into their power and making their voices heard. It’s empowering to look at each other and see that our shared lived experiences are finally being acknowledged, validated and spoken about.
A proud Vietnamese Australian woman, Ho started “Alyssa Ho Writings” on Instagram back in 2013/14. Back then it was not focused at all on the anti-Asian racism issue but started on giving advice on love and life. The transformation of “Alyssa Ho Writings”, have grown as Ho goes through her own journey and process of understanding who she is as a Vietnamese woman and where she belongs in the Asian Australia cosmos.
In actual fact, when I finished uni, I wanted to be a journalist or a news reporter but I ended up navigating the marketing and event space. However, I always held onto that love of writing and started “Alyssa Ho Writings” back in 2013/14. If you were to scroll through my feed, you’ll find that I didn’t always talk about anti-racism, it used to be inspirational pieces on life and love.
“Alyssa Ho Writings” has definitely grown as I have grown as a person and as someone who is now proud of my cultural identity. That journey of me understanding who I am, has taken a lot of my life to learn. Growing up, I never really owned being an Asian woman and neither did I have a lot (or any) Asian friends in my social circle. I never felt that I had the permission to be a proud Asian, so I distanced myself from my Vietnamese background and one of the consequences of that is that I can’t speak Vietnamese fluently (but I do want to learn!)
The journey has been a long and hard one and I nowadays, I feel my link to my Vietnamese cultural background and being Asian as being stronger. Growing up I dealt with a lot of internalised racism and now I am slowly unpacking this and I challenge myself everyday with this as something I need to continually address.
Finally, being a social media influencer and talking about issue such as anti-Asian racism is a hard issue to discuss considering the amount of hate and attacks Ho receives. There are always those who have “white fragility” and will get offended when racism is raised or when a public figure’s casual racism is called out. Mainstream Australia loves to brush off public figures racism as a “joke” and part of the so called “Aussie culture” of being a larrikin etc. So in essence as people who call out racism and as communities who face racism in Australia we are constantly told by the mainstream to “stop being sensitive” and to “shut up”. These type of negative hits really impacts on a person, but Ho tells us that she has learned to not take this all personally and when it does hit her hard, to take a step back.
I have learned to not take the attacks I get to heart. When I post something about racism or call it out, I will get those who will insert themselves into the conversation, take what I have to say personally and they go into attack and defence mode. Something I have said has triggered them which means it is like I am holding a mirror up to them and they don’t like that. For example, when I was talking about the Georgia Love incident, me speaking about that bothered people as they would respond to me that it was a “joke”. For them, they see it as if we are taking something away from them because now they feel like something that is hurtful and harmful to us can’t be disguised as humour anymore. They weren’t protecting Georgia Love, they were trying to protect themselves.
Discussing racism in Australia is a constant struggle because a lot of people like to protect the image that we are a very multicultural country. I believe that we can be multicultural, which I feel we are, but at the same time racism can still exist here. Many times when I’ve spoken up about racism in this country, I’ve been told to “go back to your own country”, as though I’m ungrateful to be here. I wish more people understood that speaking our truth and calling out racism doesn’t mean we despise this country and being here. I can love Australia but also speak about the things that really happen to our community (and others). I feel that people don’t see the racism against Asians as real and anything significant and it’s hardly covered in mainstream Australian media, as compared to the US where it is a consistent public conversation.
Many Aussies (particularly those who never face racism) think that if you talk about racism in Australia, you are calling Australia a backward country and not being patriotic. Dealing with these abuses and micro-aggressions is horrible but in many ways it can also motivate us to now allow them to silence us.
Alyssa Ho, is a young Asian Australian women who is doing big things and will continue to do so. Want to learn more about her? Well, you can check out her Instagram page “Alyssa Ho Writings” and find out more of what she is doing and what she is passionate about on her link tree site.
Images via Alyssa Ho Writing Instagram