Interview: Angela Sidhu on Her Work With Middle Ground and The Importance of Unity
Angela Sidhu on her work as part of Middle Ground and the importance of unity and political involvement within the Asian-American community.
Can you start off by telling us a little bit about Middle Ground?
Middle Ground is an Asian-American/Pacific-Islander youth-led organization striving to increase Asian-American involvement in political activism. Political engagement is often not valued in Asian-American communities, with importance being put on STEM (the sciences and technology) instead because it is seen as more useful in the long run. We want to help shift that idea. Politics is a vast field filled with so many opportunities to make real change and as Asian-Americans we feel we should be getting involved in it.
What are some of the specific political divisions within Asian-American communities right now?
There has been a lot of news recently about the spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans. The news coverage has helped to shine a light on the racism faced by the Asian community, especially during the pandemic. And this itself has sparked a lot of political discussion and activism amongst the Asian community.
And while it has been great to see this rise in activism, especially from our community – which, as I previously mentioned, is often politics-averse, there is no real consensus within our community on how to address these issues.
Many marginalized groups have movements with specific goals. Unfortunately, this is something the Asian-American community lacks. Black Lives Matter and Abolish ICE are two great examples of strong political movements: they have specific issues they want to address, they have consensus within their communities, and they have a concrete plan to address it. Asian-American activism, on the other hand, has no widely agreed upon action to advocate for. Much of the reaction to the issues facing us is surface level – it lacks any kind of nuance.
This lack of unity and organization is damaging as it creates a divide within our community. Even those advocating for change can’t agree on how to do so.
Asian-Americans in the U.S. are often viewed as a kind of walking monolith – they are often caricatured as holding the same views, having the same backgrounds and sharing the same political affiliations. How can this harmful misconception be busted?
For Asian-Americans, speaking up about our personal experiences as Asian-Americans is a great way to challenge the conception of the “Asian American monolith.” More often than not, people are just simply unaware of the complexities and nuances of life as an Asian-American because they haven’t learned or experienced what it’s like to have that lived identity.
From an outside perspective, there are many people who think of Asians as the “hardworking and successful person with broken English.” This perspective is not natural: it is a product of how we are portrayed in almost every form of media. Making art and engaging in activism are great ways to dismantling the monolithic perception of what it means to be Asian-American.
"From an outside perspective, there are many people who think of Asians as the “hardworking and successful person with broken English.” This perspective is not natural: it is a product of how we are portrayed in almost every form of media."
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of Asian-American activism lacks nuance, which is one of the reasons why we have no unified racial justice movement. However, for non-Asian allies, becoming educated on issues both Asians and Asian diaspora face through speaking with Asian activists, learning about Asian history and the issues we face, and then getting involved in movements (especially grassroots) is a great way to become a catalyst for change.
What does the future for Middle Ground look like? Are there any projects you’re excited to work on?
I see the future for Middle Ground as really bright. We have so many exciting projects that we are planning on launching this year. For example, we are going to be hosting quite a few webinars starting March 13th and a volunteer program which we will be launching – so stay tuned! This new volunteer program will provide participants a chance to gain service hours by translating political articles, theory, and text into various Asian languages to increase accessibility for those who don’t have English as a first language, which is so important.
Finally, how can those interested get involved with Middle Ground?
There are so many ways to get involved with Middle Ground! We are opening applications to join our core teams soon, so look out for that. Additionally, our translation program will be looking for volunteers to translate articles and political documents soon. And keep an eye out for upcoming events, like our voter registration drive, and sign up for our newsletter here. You can also submit to our writing blog or come to one of our webinars – everyone is welcome! One exciting event coming up is Virginia chapter will be speaking with VAAB member Justin Lo Saturday, March 13, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST.
BIOGRAPHY: Angela Sidhu is a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School. She is the Director of Publicity and Outreach at Middle Ground Initiative and has a strong passion for political activism and medicine. Angela is also the founder of Six STEM Sisters, a STEM journal which covers and debates various issues and events in STEM. To top it off, she is also the Virginia Chapter Founder/Leader of The Incentive, a climate news publication and civic engagement organization. Angela dedicates her life to servitude and plans to continue her work in political activism as an organizer.