What this Alaska Airlines employee wants you to know about misperceptions in the Asian community

Pictured L to R: Air Group Pan Asian leaders Candace L., Derek C., Edrea K., Nia S.

Today, many of our employees are members of one or more of Alaska Airlines’ 12 business resource groups (BRGs). These groups provide spaces to connect and champion the diverse workforce and cultures represented at the company. BRGs are instrumental in key business decisions and help make an impact on Alaska’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitments.

One BRG is Air Group Pan Asians (AGPA), whose leaders and members will attend this year’s parade. AGPA’s name and logo were thoughtfully chosen to reflect and celebrate the cultural diversity of all Asian communities.

“The red represents luck and good fortune, yellow symbolizes royalty, spirituality, and strength, and the green portrays regeneration, growth, and earth. The bowl represents the ocean with a reflection of the rising sun, adorned with intertwining strands of noodles and stems of the rice plant, foods that are staples in Asian countries. A dragon circles the bowl, depicting the strength and embodying the folklore and legends of many Asian cultures. We’re hopeful our logo resonates with our members and allies and sparks their interest to learn more about the commonalities and nuances of different Asian cultures.” – AGPA leaders.

Jeremy poses for a photo in from of the Ba Na Hills Mountain Resort in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Each month, a BRG and one of its members are highlighted on the company’s intranet to bring awareness and encourage employees to join the community. AGPA’s featured member is Jeremy N., who previously served as a leader for AGPA and stepped up to support and provide safe spaces for his Asian colleagues during the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in early 2021 amidst the pandemic.

Learn more about Jeremy below!

Why did you join AGPA?

Being Filipino American, I joined to connect with other Asian employees and allies to expand my network and contribute to ensuring Alaska fosters an environment where our Asian employees feel like they belong and their voices are heard. 

Why is education around pan-Asian cultures important, and what would you encourage everyone to do to learn more?

Stereotypes and misperceptions are pervasive in the Asian American community today. Despite the long history of Asians in America and their contributions to this country, there’s been a theme of limiting the amount of Asian-American history in schools, relegating Asian Americans as “other,” and simply dismissing the perspectives and value that Asian Americans bring to the table.

However, this year, Illinois became the first state to require Asian American history be taught in public schools, including a unit about the Asian American experience! This is very exciting, and we hope to see other states continue down this path.

Here are some common misperceptions:

  • Viewing the Asian American community as a monolith, one single uniform group
    • Asia comprises nearly 50 countries, each with its own culture and history. This misperception hides each ethnicity’s uniqueness and rich culture – from the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the holidays celebrated, and our religious beliefs.
  • Model Minority myth
    • This myth assumes ALL Asian Americans are smart, successful, and self-sufficient enough to take care of anything and everything on their own, hiding the fact that many are unemployed or living in poverty.
  • Perpetual foreigner
    • Viewing Asian Americans as outsiders and not American. Many, including myself, have only lived in the United States. We continue to get questioned or find ourselves in situations where we’re made to feel like we don’t belong or are worthy of equal opportunity.