The series, according to junior Wayland Thiu and sophomore Arah Kang, was largely inspired by a racist encounter New York Times editor Michael Luo shared on Twitter. Luo and his family were heading to get dinner in the Upper West Side neighborhood of New York City when a woman verbally attacked him after being initially being annoyed by the stroller he was pushing.
Those tweets detailed the common — yet unacknowledged — racism Asians endure in the U.S., and Bowdoin's Asian Students Association wanted to initiate a conversation about this reality. They also wanted to smash the model minority myth, or the belief that Asians are typically more successful in terms of socioeconomic status than other ethnic groups.
With the aim of shattering stereotypes, the photo campaign features 48 students from many ethnic backgrounds holding up poster signs of ignorant comments made about their Asian identity.
In one photo, a student holds a sign that reads: "'I bet nobody in your family speaks good English.' - Literature Teacher #ThisIs2016."
"A lot of people on campus said, 'we don't really see people speaking up,'" Thiu said. "There's this model minority myth because you don't see a lot of these complaints from Asians. So somehow people think we're okay with things people say."
"The campaign was to debunk that myth," Thiu said. "We do have a voice. We can speak for ourselves."
Here are 16 powerful photos that prove it: