A 7-second video on TikTok has ignited discourse regarding “toxic” Asian friend groups.
On Aug. 12, Adenn (@purrslayden), who is Asian American, revealed in a short TikTok video that they “genuinely do not like Asian friend groups.” The declaration has since garnered more than 1.5 million views, 221,700 likes, 17, 200 saves, 6,300 comments and 7,400 shares.
“Cuz most of yall just like yalls parents,” Adenn writes in the video’s caption. “Toxic, gossipers, and rude.”
Several TikTok creators, many of whom are also Asian American, are corroborating Adenn’s claim with videos of their own, in which they outline their firsthand experiences with this particular type of friend group.
On Aug. 14, Maxine (@loveinmylocket), a Filipino Canadian woman, stitched Adenn’s post and shared her thoughts regarding “all-Asian” friend groups and how many of these groups, she says, consist of East Asians.
“There is legitimately a reason why these friend groups only consist of East Asians,” Maxine says. “And it’s because, chances are, and I’m not trying to generalize all of them, it’s because they’re racist. Literally, it’s because they’re racist.”
While you may see “the token Filipino or the token Viet” from time to time, “chances are, they are extremely excluded or they’re light skinned.”
“They make fun of people who just live. And if it wasn’t obvious, the colorism is extremely crazy,” she asserts. “I’m Filipino, by the way. So before you come for me, I’m Filipino, and that’s how I feel.”
There are several online spaces that present as inclusive but have come under criticism for a lack of acceptance. One example is the Facebook group Subtle Asian Traits, which was founded by Asian Australian teenagers in September 2018, which, “as one of the largest online Asian communities,” has over 1.9 million members. The group’s bio claims to “create a community that celebrates the similarities and differences within the subtle traits of Asian culture and sub-cultures,” but some users have challenged the actual practice of that philosophy.
And while the group provides solace and support for many of its members by discussing niche experiences of the Asian diaspora by way of memes and trauma-bonding, writer Morgan Sung claims in Mashable that there’s also “a slimy layer of misogyny and racism.”
“I believe one of the main issues with Subtle Asian Traits is the way it attempts to perpetuate the idea of a singular Asian culture that doesn’t exist,” Sarah Mae Dizon of Lithium Magazine writes. “Doing so would erase the complexities of cultures throughout the Asian continent. Plus, the idea of a monolithic Asian culture eclipses the way ethnic minorities throughout the continent are marginalized.”
‘Thank you TikTok for articulating these things that have annoyed me but couldn’t put into words about my 90s high school life.’
Fellow Asian American TikTok creators are contributing to the conversation on Maxine’s video. The majority of creators, it seems, corroborate her claims about East Asian friend groups and the ways in which they discriminate.
“Sometimes their insults aren’t even in a friendly way they’re genuinely racially charged,” @energeric wrote.
“As someone who is half full and half Korean, the moment they find out I’m Filipino i get ignored,” @jesucalala claims.
“Thank you TikTok for articulating these things that have annoyed me but couldn’t put into words about my 90s high school life,” @lavelolita replied.
On Aug. 16, Jay (@yeetsko), who is Black and Vietnamese, shared his perspective as a Blasian member of an “exclusively Asian” friend group.
“This more commonly happens among East Asian friend groups but it can still happen with Southeast Asian friend groups as well,” Jay asserts. “It’s less common but it still happens.”
‘It just makes you think, imagine how they would react if they had your skin tone.’
Colorism in Asian-only friend groups, Jay says, takes on a more subtle, conversational approach.
“With the girls, let’s say it’s summertime and they’ll just look at themselves and be like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotten so dark’ or ‘I feel so ugly. I wish I was lighter,’ and they’ll make comments like that, right? And you’re sitting there and you’ve been brown since birth or you just get super dark during the summer, right,” he says. “And it just makes you think, imagine how they would react if they had your skin tone.”
Other Asian American creators are speaking out about the elitism they claim to have experienced in these exclusively East Asian friend groups.
This discourse appears to go well beyond TikTok. In January 2023, reddit user /u/Sea-Foundation-98 sought advice from the Desi community for “Navigating East Asian Friend Groups and Feeling like an Outcast.”
by u/udiddydod from discussion Navigating East Asian Friend Groups and Feeling like an Outcast
“But yeah — East Asian Americans can be a little cliquey but overall I have a lot of friends that are East Asian too — I can vibe with them,” user /u/udiddydod replied.
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