Interview: Emma Tang
Emma is an Asian American Activist and runs the popular Instagram page, @intersectionalabc with over 95K followers where she discusses and advocates on a variety of controversial and political topics and shares frequent photos of her cat, Wednesday.
What made you decide to start an activism page?
My page started after the 2016 election in March of 2017! For me, it was a place to be angry about injustices that I was seeing. I didn’t expect it to grow in the way that it has, and now it’s grown into something where I’m responsible for not only educating myself, but others as well.
What social issues are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about climate justice, racial justice, reproductive justice, and youth activism. I focus mainly on these issues, because all of these directly affect myself and so many people around me.
What is online activism and how is it different from other forms of activism?
Online activism is very much educating others through the form of memes, text based posts such as Twitter, and short videos. It’s different than other forms of activism, because I think that I can reach more people from all around the country and the world. It’s also different, because I have to get my message across in such a short time.
Has your online activism had any effects, positive or negative, on your everyday/personal life? If so, how?
Online activism has affected my personal activism in real life. This account has given me a lot of opportunities to work with some great organizations, such as the Obama Foundation. I haven’t experienced a lot of negativity in my personal life surrounding my account, but it has taught me to grow a tougher skin.
What advice do you have for other young people who are afraid to speak up on issues they care about?
It’s probably too easy to just say, “stop being afraid”, but my advice is to educate yourself first before speaking up. It’s easy to yell at rallies and repeat phrases, but it’s much harder to look at yourself and your own behaviors, thoughts, and actions and evaluate those. A lot of activism is internal evaluation and learning to rewire years of propaganda and white washing that you’ve been taught.
Do you think online activism has had a substantial effect on people’s beliefs and ideals? If so, for better or worse?
I think that online activism has had an effect on people’s beliefs. I think that it can go both ways, depending on the kind of content you’re taking in. If you’re constantly taking in justice and activism, your views will definitely change. And on the other hand, if you’re constantly taking in hateful, fake, and harmful information, such as Fox News, your beliefs will change and reflect that as well.
Do you plan to have a career related to social justice, politics, activism, etc?
Yes! I plan to major in public policy (I currently attend NYU as a freshman!) and I hope to work with more non profits before running for office. I plan to run for president in 2040!
How have your ideas and beliefs been influenced or changed since you’ve started online activism?
I think after experiencing a lot of the issues that I advocate for in person, such as extreme racism, the effects of climate change, and watching my reproductive rights be taken away from me, I’ve become more adamant about what changes I want to see. After taking part in the BLM protests in Portland, Oregon, I truly, truly believe with my whole being, that all cops are bastards.
What advice do you have for young people who want to get into activism?
Educate yourself on the issues that you want to fight for first. It’s easy to get caught up in rallies and protests, but a lot of activism is education! Educate yourself and start with your own social circle, such as your family and friends. Those are people’s views that you can change.
Are there any misconceptions, stigmas around activism, or issues that you’d like to address?
I think the biggest one is that we’re violent. Especially with the Black Lives Matter protests happening right now, so many people in the middle or who are right leaning assume that we are advocating for property destruction, which isn’t true. However, no revolution was ever peaceful, and no one ever achieved justice without a little property destruction. I think that people are more worried about storefronts than they are about the people who are being murdered.