Farrah Su is one of my childhood friends and has been someone I have always looked up to as a role model. She is an activist when it comes to social issues within the Asian American community and is a recent Film Production graduate from Chapman University in California. In this interview, we go into depth both about her passions and her experience as an Asian American female.
STEPH: You mentioned that you are "passionate about sharing the narrative of Asian American Feminism because that often times gets lost in the Asian American narrative and the Feminism narrative." Could you go more into depth on why you think this?
FARRAH: Asian American Feminists, and just about any other Feminists of Color, will often see that they have to choose between fighting for feminism or fighting for people of color (POC) rights. Current Mainstream Feminism(™) is very much geared toward white feminism, so womxn of color (WOC) are not always accounted for in the agenda. That is why the Asian American Feminism Movement is so important. It prioritizes these issues because once these issues are addressed, White Feminism and POC rights will be subsequently addressed.
STEPH: Was there a specific time in your life that made you get more into Asian American Activism?
FARRAH: In my social justice journey maps that I have drawn, I equate the big shift of my involvement in activism to when I went to college. Going to college offered me tangible actions to do and a community to learn from. Going to a majority white school really opened my eyes to a lot of issues as well as helped me connect with folks who share similar values and thoughts because we were fighting the same struggles.
STEPH: Was there ever a time you faced a hardship as an Asian American woman?
FARRAH: The extent of discrimination that I have faced range from microaggressions to catcalls on the street. These acts of harassment are enough to remind me that I am not seen as “American” and that people just see what they want to see. I think the ones that really affect me are the catcalls.
As an Asian American, many men poorly attempt to catcall me in the language that they assume I speak, switching between their limited repertoire of greeting phrases in Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese. Moments like this really stick with me because I am reminded of what I look like to others and what connotation being an “Asian Female” has.
"As an Asian American Feminist, I experience my life through that specific lens, it’s never just Asian American experience or just a woman experience. I can’t separate them and so I will fight for them together. That’s what intersectionality is and why it’s so important."
STEPH: Do you ever feel like your role as an Asian American woman ties in with your passion for film making?
FARRAH: Yes for sure. I see filmmaking as a powerful medium for effective storytelling. Everyone has stories to tell and every story is worth telling. With this exposure to so much media content nowadays, our screens serve as a mirror to our lives and we want to see ourselves in that mirror. Attending a university for film production really confirmed to me that Asian American Womxn are poorly represented both on screen and behind-the-scenes.
My graduating class, there were two Asian American Women in the Film Production Program, including me. I was the only women of color in the cinematography undergraduate class of 2017. That really stands out to me, because as artists our work is a reflection of our experiences as well. So being exposed to this truth was really powerful and really encouraged me to seek out other Asian Am Femmes and uplift them.
"Social Justice is a marathon and you need to take it slow and at your own pace."
"Being an Asian American Femme Filmmaker is an identity that I really hold dear to my heart. It is who I am and it is who I want to be. I wanted to pursue the path of filmmaking because I really believe in the impact this medium can make and I want to make that impact on the communities that I belong to."
STEPH: What was it like being the president of an organization like APSA (Asian Pacific Student Association) through a female lens?
FARRAH: (laughs) Good question. In all my years of APSA, each president has been non-male, either female identifying or non-binary and that to me speaks volumes of how empowering and influential WOC were to my growth.
In addition to my predecessors all being empowering non-male identifying folx, I was also fortunate to have an inspiring club faculty advisor. My school does not have many Asian American professors, so getting to know one that is so involved and aware of the community issues really helped me believe in myself and helped me find the resources that I need. The APSA Board was another space that helped me grow my experience and my confidence. It was really through being in APSA, as a member and as board, that I really saw the importance of community and Love.
STEPH: Anything else you want to say or include that you feel is important to address?
FARRAH: Something that has really inspired me and kept me going was the sense of community. We must uplift our “families” and uplift ourselves. We have remember that we, ourselves, can be and are inspiring. Like the late philosopher, activist, and inspiration Grace Lee Boggs once wrote, “we are the leaders we’ve been looking for.”