Respected Reader, I am Riddhi Bhattacharya, a writer and editor at The Teen Pop Magazine, residing in Lagos, Nigeria. My passion lies in etching the feelings of my heart and the notions of my mind – conveying them to the world with my speeches, debates, articles and blog posts. Spending the majority of my mature years since I was 7 in Lagos, I have grown up to respect and appreciate Black people. I have always desired, spoken up about and prayed for a world where people will truly be judged not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character and thus Black Lives Matter is a movement very close to me!
Today, I am extremely glad to be in conversation with the one and only Amanda Nguyen Hammond! After receiving her B.A. in Dance from the University of California Irvine, she taught dance classes to all ages. She left the dance world after teaching for 7 years to pursue a career in marketing and build her blog into a business. She feels grateful to have had opportunities to work, connect and grow with many other like-minded and inspiring individuals across the fashion, beauty and hospitality industries.
Amanda now manages marketing projects and trade show event logistics for a tech company, while using her platform to speak to and advocate for human rights matters, as well as uplift and share fellow creatives of colour.
Amanda resides in Southern California with her husband Scott and fur baby Lucky. Although it may be difficult given your circumstances during this pandemic time and dealing with uncertainties, there is no better time to start laying the groundwork for a dream or goal, even finding ideas and inspirations that excite and drive you. Amanda’s mantra is to always go for it because the worse that could happen is someone says no, or next time. But at least you went for it and can learn from those experiences. Don’t stop learning and growing!
Black Lives Matter Interview with Amanda Nguyen Hammond
Black Lives Matter
Hey Amanda, how are you doing?
Hey Riddhi, I am good, thank you! Thank you for having me!
Could you begin by telling us about your relationship with Black Lives Matter?
My relationship with the Black Lives Matter movement only just began right around the last weekend of May, about a week after George Floyd’s death. Throughout the entire week, I was buried in work but saw the social media coverage regarding Floyd’s death and police brutality.
I hadn’t watched the video footage of George Floyd’s murder, so I didn’t know the full story. When I started seeing voices that I knew speak out on social media against injustices against Black people, as well as diving into the resources and organizations people were sharing – it opened my eyes and mind as to why this was not just going to be another overlooked Black death at the hands of our law enforcement.
What was disheartening is only a couple months before that, Breonna Taylor had been shot dead by police in her own home, and a month before that, the Ahmaud Arbery shooting had taken place; and even those incidences were not enough of a catalyst to push us into this global movement for racial justice and equality.
There have been countless other Black deaths and hate crimes committed against our Black community, and Floyd’s death was ultimately the last straw – when we said enough is enough.
Truth is, Black people have never been truly “free” here in America due to having social, economic and environmental disadvantages and discrimination, and overall less opportunities and access to resources in comparison to their Caucasian counterparts. As an individual with a social media presence, I feel an obligation and responsibility to continue to actively work towards dismantling the institutional racism that is so deeply ingrained in our legal, educational and healthcare systems.
This movement has brought to light the blatant racism and white supremacist views that many people in our nation possess. This is all still fresh and a learning process for me, as I have had to take time to reflect deep down on my own biases and privilege.
So, Amanda what is Black Lives Matter to you and how do you see it?
I see it as an awakening and something that has been a long time coming. There have always been activists for the Black community and those working to fight racial inequalities and injustices; but with George Floyd’s death, it seemed to be the tipping point for the U.S.A.
In my self-reflection, this is a movement and not a moment, this is not just some trend or hashtag – this movement will transcend through all aspects of our society – our very way of thinking, eating, breathing, working, way of life itself, and push us towards reform and change for equality.
The masses are angry and fed up for the injustices that Black people have had to endure for so long, and they are compelled to take the steps necessary to remove people from positions of power that are driven by racist motives, prejudices and or close-mindedness that hinder the quality of life for the American people, specifically our minority groups; and instead elect more fitting individuals that have our best interest at hand so we can all truly be free and be able to equally prosper.
Everyone has implicit biases to come to grips with and be aware of because of how deeply rooted those biases and prejudices have been in our upbringing.
I still can’t believe how “white-washed” my education was – I didn’t truly learn an accurate view of our history, and much of our Black history was sugar-coated or omitted to fit the “White Man’s narrative”. We were taught that “discovering” new lands and colonizing were acceptable; although today I don’t see physical colonization in America, it is what our very nation’s soul is made up of and the ideals that our country was built upon.
Colonizing manifests itself in other ways on how people treat each other and how we are governed; the mindset of having the superior white man coming in to civilize a group of people (or “kick people out”) and be in control and dominant through our government, community interactions, at work and in education.
It is still very prevalent today and associated with embodying the “American Patriotic Spirit”, with people preaching to “Make America Great Again”, “Go Back to Where You Came From”, “Speak English, you’re in America” or “If You Don’t Like America, leave”, and yet they are living on stolen land – and we are tired of this mindset and toxic narrative.
How important is Black Lives Matter today in the world and especially in focus to Asia?
As this is an issue involving racial discrimination that seems to be deeply rooted in societies globally, the Black Lives Matter movement is very important in the world today. Although the movement we see today stemmed from events that took place in the U.S, it is a testament to how important the matter is with the protests and outrage that are occurring all over the world.
I can’t speak from personal experience on the importance it holds in Asia except seeing how this issue has resonated with those that are protesting in countries like Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. It is powerful to see Asian communities speak up for what they believe in and also bring forth other social and human rights matters that should be addressed in their governments.
Have you as a fashion industrialist ever faced racism? How have you overcome it?
In my experiences in the fashion industry, no I have not faced racism. Although, being an Asian American, I have faced racism throughout my life. As a child of immigrant refugee parents, I grew up in a household that strove to acquire the American dream.
Both of my parents worked hard, learned English, completed multiple higher education degrees, worked their way up to obtain great jobs (as much as our corporate leaders would allow) and relocated to a more affluent neighbourhood to raise their family. To all of us, we were “making it”, we were living the “American Dream”.
I grew up in an area in which I was given much more opportunity, but despite that, still felt that I was different or never quite fit in with my Caucasian peers. I grew up with the idea in my head that if I acted and aligned myself with white people, that I could be just as successful as them, that being accepted as one of their own would be a success within itself.
Through facing microaggressions (such as being asked “Where are you really from?”, someone imitating an Asian language by making crude “ching chong” sounds and being associated with stereotypes such as immediately jumping to the conclusion that I’m a bad driver or that I’m well versed in studies such as math and science) and racial discrimination, these instances made me feel less adequate or inferior to Caucasian people.
At the end of the day, I might be American because I was born here but would never fit in and have the same opportunities as a white person.
The model minority myth depicts the entire Asian community (no diversity amongst Asian American cultures) as very law-abiding, polite and intelligent citizens in contrast to other minority groups; holding Asian Americans to a certain standard or example for other groups to strive towards.
And is more specifically pitted against the Black community to argue that if they worked harder and have stronger values, then they can overcome racism as we have (in actuality, Asians continue to face racism today) – this drives a racial wedge between minority groups and creates a hierarchy that ultimately downplays the impact of racism against people of color and distracts from being able to truly liberate all BIPOC groups and dismantle white supremacy.
Do you believe in violence as a method of protest?
I don’t believe in violence. Period. Unfortunately, some individuals may not even be supporting the Black Lives Matter cause, but are the ones to spark violence and disarray during protests.
The unnecessary force or action is shown by our law enforcement against peaceful protestors also incites further violence and anger which continues to perpetuate the narrative that protests are violent, as well as anyone involved in Black Lives Matter, is violent or has to be violent to get their point across.
There are still many protests occurring around the world, and yet there is no heightened media coverage on it because there is no violence involved.
Many Black Lives Matter activists are using the momentum behind this movement against police brutality to also raise other issues, like economic inequality and discrimination against black LGBT people. Why is this intersectional approach to activism important?
We have been living in a fog, and that fog has lifted showing how much discrimination and dehumanization Black people face every day of their lives. They are almost set up to fail and this movement has shined a light on how corrupt institutions that are meant to keep us safe are, more so in Black and communities of color where law enforcement are terrorizing these people and they are not treated with the same rights and respect just because of the color of their skin.
Through this movement, we see intersectionality though the importance of civil rights for all groups; as Black Lives Matter got traction in the month of June, the same month as PRIDE – the two movements were and still are deeply connected, working hand in hand together (since many Black trans and LGBTQ people of color were pioneers of the Gay Rights movement), as well as tackling massive climate injustices that have directly impacted our communities of color.
The list goes on and on of the many human rights that our government, more specifically our current Presidential administration keeps trying to deny. The intersectional approach to activism is very important as many of these issues are connected or support each other – it allows the marginalized to be heard and have access to the conversation instead of feeling silenced.
If an individual identifies with multiple identities, we want them to feel support in the activist activities that are created to support them, not separate them. This is a great look at the importance of intersectional activism more specifically on campuses but applies to any activism events, programs etc, written by Brianna Hill.
Black Lives Matter was a campaign started and founded by 3 black women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullers, Opal Tometi. As a woman yourself how do you perceive the success of this movement and what would you like to tell those people that believe that women don’t deserve to have a role of power?
As a woman, it is very empowering and inspiring to see these three Black women create a platform and place that has served and will continue to catalyse change and equality. I perceive the success of this movement as stepping stones towards a greater change and reform in our nation, which will be the ultimate success.
As the organization was founded in 2013, it has taken 7 years for Black Lives Matter to come to the forefront. For too long the Black community truly hasn’t been free – they have been given less opportunity, more chances to end up in mass incarceration or fail in life.
The change will not happen overnight, and I think people have committed to this life long journey to not only unlearn biases and re-educate themselves but contribute to cleansing the nation of corrupt, racist individuals and put in place individuals that truly embody and push for equal human rights for all. For those that believe women don’t deserve to be in a role of power are stuck in another time, and really should come out from the rock they are living under.
They need to join us in the year 2020 by ridding themselves of their misogynistic attitudes. Women are powerful beings, which when in power have shown to be effective and influential leaders. Long gone is the collective mindset that all women belong just at home to have babies, raise a family and appease their husbands. We can be, do and achieve anything we truly want to, including fighting for human rights.
Thank you so much for join us today Amanda! It was a lovely and enthralling experience communicating and spending time with you! We wish you all the very best and success in all your endeavors! If you would like to know more about Amanda and her journey, stay tuned with the Teen Pop Magazine!
Ways to Reach Amanda Hammond
Ways to Reach Riddhi Bhattacharya
You can also access our recent interviews with Utsa Madan, Isilda Da Costa, Hiba Zaidi and Hanifa Hameed. These interviews range over a variety of topics such as Fashion, Wellness and Feminism.