Students gathered in Tomsich Hall Saturday for a presentation by Ranier Maningding, founder of the blog the Love Life of an Asian Guy (LLAG), hosted by the Asia Society, the South Asian Society, the Crozier Center for Women and the Snowden Multicultural Center. LLAG is an online blog community focused on the perspectives of the Asian-American community that covers politics, activism and pop culture among other topics.
Maningding’s blog began as a personal journal of interracial dating dynamics, inspiring the title. Frustrated about other people’s judgments of his appearance and perceptions of his romantic partner, who is African American, Maningding turned to Twitter and WordPress to express his innermost thoughts. The blog moved to a Facebook page and gradually shifted focus to broader issues facing the Asian community; as of Wednesday, the Facebook page has nearly 200,000 likes. Maningding also writes for Nextshark, a publication focused on the Asian identity.
“After many years of questioning my own identity as an Asian-American, LLAG seeks to help others develop their own sense of self-confidence,” Maningding said in an interview with the Collegian.
Eric Chu ’17 aided the effort to bring Maningding to campus. Chu has been an active member of the page for several years and he formed a personal relationship with Maningding when they began playing Super Smash Bros, a Nintendo video game, together online several years ago. They grew close — Chu even wrote Maningding a toast for his wedding last year — so Asia Society Co-President Winnie Thaw ’17 solicited Chu’s help in bringing Maningding to cam- pus.
During his talk, Maningding spoke about the role of Asian people in activist movements and life as a minority under the Trump administration. Topics of discussion included common racial stereotypes, the Asian sex trade industry and vocal activism.
Maningding provided attendees with advice about “what [the Asia Society], as a cultural student organization, can do in a red county in a rural part of Ohio,” Asia Society Treasurer Jonathan Pang ’17 said.
“He told us not to be complacent, to speak your mind, don’t let the standards of other people be your standards,” Asia Society Co-President Kyla McLaughlin ’17 said. “LLAG was very straightforward with his advice, which might be a little offputting to some people, but he was honest.”
The presentation also focused on linking one’s Asian identity with one’s American identity. “I’m an Asian-American, but I have multiple identities when I walk into a room,” Maningding said. “I am an American, which is my citizenship. But I’m also my ethnicity, which is Filipino. And even in that, you have smaller sub-groups: lesbian, gay or trans.” Following the presentation, Maningding held a brief Q&A. Questions ranged from how to deal with racial microaggressions committed by close friends and family to how students can confront His Campus, a new blog launched by two Kenyon students that “aims to restore freedom of speech and act as the representative of American ideals on college campuses,” according to its website. After the talk, Asia Society member Jia He ’17 asked Maningding for personal advice regarding the difficulties of being a “ first-generation immigrant and going to liberal arts school.”
“I talked to him about having parents that support you and wanting to give back to them as soon as possible, but not choosing a career that’s lucrative by being a liberal arts student,” she said. “He told me, ‘You’re going to make it no matter what you do. The fact that you’re worrying about this right now and asking me means you will be okay.’ I was trying so hard not to tear up.”
Thaw said she was “empowered” by Maningding’s reaction to the hate he has received.
“He’s received a lot of hate from white supremacists, neo-Nazis, peo- ple from the alt-right, anyone that you can think of that’s like that,” Thaw said. “He just said, ‘Don’t let these hateful people stop you from speaking out.’”
After the talk, Maningding posted a video on his Facebook account with the caption “LLAG After Hours – Asia Society @ Kenyon College.” In the video, which has 9,200 views, Maningding compliments the Asia Society for their organized efforts to bring him to campus.
“My talk at Kenyon College was hosted by an amazing on-campus organization known as Asia Society,” Maningding said in the video. “Over here, they have just been so sweet.”