Amy Albertson, a Chinese-American Jewish activist and Associate at the Tel Aviv Institute, appeared on the most recent episode of Podcast Against Antisemitism where she spoke about her experiences of being singled out as an Asian Jew.
“It’s really interesting, because I used to thrive on being the token,” she said. “I enjoyed being unique and different, so I didn’t mind it. And then eventually, it kind of weighs on you, because you become this representative.”
Ms Albertson lamented how, often when she has found herself in environments in which she was surrounded by people who may not know a lot about Jewish people or Jewish culture, it felt to her as though “everyone looks to you for all of the answers.”
She continued: “No Jew has all of the answers, right? I think a lot of minorities experience this, where you end up feeling like you’re a representative of your entire people, which is very stressful, and also, ridiculous.”
She revealed that she has had similar experiences when she has been the only Asian person in a room.
“My Asian family is very American…we’re very Asian-American. People will ask me questions about China, or they want to tell me that they’ve gone to China, and I’m like, ‘That’s really great for you. I’ve never been to China.’ That’s one thing that was so incredible about finding the Asian-Jewish space.”
Earlier this year, Ms Albertson attended an Asian-Jewish Passover Seder hosted by The LUNAR Collective, a group that “cultivates connection, belonging and visibility for Asian American Jews through intersectional community programming and authentic digital storytelling”. Ms Albertson spoke highly of the communal experience of the Seder, praising it as being “really beautiful”.
“This is something that we’ve all experienced; being token,” she said. “Especially being a Jewish Asian…it’s not that common, and you know what it feels like to be in these spaces where people expect you to represent people.”
The activist told our host how, upon telling people that she is Jewish, many begin to enquire about whether she fits the stereotypes placed upon her.
“You’re Asian and you’re Jewish, I feel like people are just wondering, ‘How do you fit the different stereotypes?’ And it’s like, well, I’m just a human. So, maybe I do and maybe I don’t, but does it matter?” she asked.
Speaking on the similarities between the tropes alleged against both Jews and Asians, Ms Albertson said: “The thing about antisemitism is that there’s a lot of punching up, and actually, with anti-Asian racism, there is also the stereotype that we are the model the minority.
“The model minority myth affects both Jews and Asians, because we are successful minorities in America. There are these stereotypes that Asians are doctors, or lawyers, or they’re really rich, they’re good at math, these kinds of things…it’s very interesting, the crossover with antisemitism, [because] it seems on one hand that it could be positive, where someone’s saying ‘You’re so successful’, but really it becomes a negative.”
Podcast Against Antisemitism, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, talks to a different guest about antisemitism each week. It streams every Thursday and is available through all major podcast apps and YouTube. You can also subscribe to have new episodes sent straight to your inbox.