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Defying the Cultural Script


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Defying the Cultural Script

Celebrating Global Asian and Pacific Islander Identities

What do you do when you don’t fit into the cultural script? How can you define yourself and resist racist projections of who you’re “supposed” to be? Penelope Strong, DEI Strategist, shares her experience of growing up as an orphan, emulating whiteness to get ahead, and eventually embracing her unique, multifaceted identity. Penelope will also share her advice for how others can insist on being seen for all of their parts, not just the racialized ones.

Tags: culture, identity, DEI

Penelope Strong

Bridget Finkeldey

I'm a transracial foster who was not raised by tiger parents, therefore, was not the model minority. Bullying during childhood, racism and life-long microaggressions caused a lot of trauma, self-doubt and self-loathing. It was a lonely childhood since I didn't have a community to belong, never had role models to look up to, nor the words to express what I was experiencing. I struggled with my identity, tried to assimilate, felt I had to prove to others that I was loveable, and begged for acceptance by rejecting anything Asian and emulating whiteness. More than just an Asian, I am an orphan, a single mom, returning to the workplace late in life, ambitious, goal-oriented, and struggling to find a career path in a corporate world that is not accepting of an out-of-the-box thinker who has a non-traditional resume. I am seeking a wolfpack. It wasn't until the Asian-hate crimes started that I finally found a voice, wanted to be seen and heard, and am proud and finally accepting of who I am and what I look like. I am learning to appreciate what I bring to the table because of my unique lens. I want to belong, to show up and feel safe being me.

Maryella Marie

Sanmaya Mohanty

Maryella Marie [she/her] is a renaissance womxn and social impact multimedia producer who has spent a decade working with diverse technologists, independent artists, and divergent innovators across the globe to deepen their audiences’ emotional intelligence.

You can find her at The Positive Force Team curating and facilitating masterclasses and workshops centered around emotional intelligence, equity, and creative leadership; producing mindful collaborations between artists and organizations in the Americas to build bridges and inspire positive social impact, and creative directing the “Brainwashing” radio series featuring counter-culture conversations, storytelling, ASMR, and independent music from heart-full thought-leaders, visionaries, and independent artists around the world.

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