Asian American Photographer’s Images Show a Contradiction of the Stereotypes That Frame Asian American Life in the U.S.

September 12, 2015 • National, News

By P.C. Staff

Cynthia Trinh’s photographs have been gaining some attention over the past few weeks, largely because they depict the lives of low-wage Asian laborers in New York City. The striking black-and-white images, taken from the neighborhoods of Chinatown and Midtown, show a pushback, or contradiction, of the stereotypes that frame modern-day Asian American life.

Trinh recently spoke about her photos and what she believes those photos mean about Asian Americans. “I wanted to do something that really hit home for me and that I related to,” she said. “I think that it was one of those things we all kind of knew was happening, but it took that piece to really hammer it home.” Trinh is intimately familiar with the ways the nation invisibilizes Asians who don’t fit a set of accepted stereotypes. In some eyes, Asians are stereotyped as being “wealthy, bookish, successful, yet still perpetually foreign and even non-American.” Trinh said she originally came up with the idea of the photos after “the big New York Times nail salon investigation.”

With the recent comments made by some GOP presidential candidates, it seems that Asian Americans are still seen as foreign. According to Trinh, Asians are inherently a foreign presence in America, and there is an array of circumstances. Those circumstances and experiences show how diverse and uniquely American this imperfectly defined ethnic category truly has become.

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