The NYU Shanghai community challenged assumptions and built new connections with each other during its 5th annual Ally Week. From November 11-15, students and faculty engaged in discussions about gender equality and colorism (discrimination based on skin color). A community choral performance, a play by NYU Shanghai’s Thespian Society, and screenings of two documentaries by NYU Shanghai sophomores created moments of understanding, discomfort, and empathy. “It’s Just Hair?” a film E’Jane Li ’22, was one of the films featured during the week. Li’s film tackles the relationship between hair and identity. “I wanted to bring in something from a different part of the world that was relatable, but also be its own kind of story...and see them from outside of our little bubble,” says Li, who filmed the documentary over the summer in her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. Organizers screened “A Way Out 出路,” a film about how social class, geography, and family background shape the fates of Chinese teenagers hoping to become first generation college students. The room was packed for Wednesday night’s panel, Being in Shanghai: (How) Does Color Matter? “As an African-American, I'm very aware of colorism within ethnic groups – discrimination against those with darker skin – in my own community, but I didn’t realize it was an issue in China until I came here. I hope we can come away from this discussion with a heightened sensitivity to the sometimes subtle ways our societies convey a hierarchy of worth to different members,” said panel moderator Associate Professor of Practice in Political Science Almaz Zelleke (center). Photo by Liyang Zhu Abigail Mata-Hernandez ’22 and her father in a still from “The American Dream?” a film about immigration to the United States by Mata-Hernandez. The film tells the story of Hernandez’s family, and how her immigrant parents shaped her identity as a first-generation Mexican-American. “It’s really hard sometimes seeing how they get treated – how the media treats them, how the government treats them, because I know my parents aren’t the only family that are giving back to the country, but are still treated like they’re criminals, like they’re invading the country. I felt a lot of pressure back home, that I needed to be this amazing child that was born in America, because you know for them, when they were in Mexico, ‘El Norte,’ is where the money is, that’s where it’s happening.” Since the early 2010s, online anti-feminists have referred to their worldview as the ‘red pill.’ Winston Chen, news commentator for Beijing News, shared his thoughts during Ally Week’s opening conversation on gender and feminism in China: ‘The Myth of Red Pill.” “Back in my time [in the United States], it was just a very natural response when my friends and my classmates said they are feminists, [for me] to also say, ‘Yeah, I’m a feminist, too.’ It’s an easy thing back in the United States. But this did not become an issue until I realized that saying the same thing here in China, at least on social media platforms, that would be risky,” said Chen. “Being friendly to gender issues is a responsibility of all people receiving higher education, like [the] people in this room. To some extent you are already privileged.” Photo by Rachel Wen For Ally Week’s grand finale, NYU Shanghai’s Thespian Society presented “Cloud Nine,” a gender-bending, witty, biting dark comedy by Caryl Churchill that explored issues of gender, sexuality and race. Photo courtesy of the NYU Shanghai Thespian Society Maggie Xiao Liang ’22 and Nigel Lu ’23 stand before the Ally Week Community Project. Over 150 NYU Shanghai community members participated by wrapping a string around all of the qualities that described them, from unique, religious, cisgender, faculty, introverted, LGBTQIA+, third-culture kid, and more--creating an interactive map of identities at NYU Shanghai.