#NotYourWedge Twitter Townhall Features Asian American Panelists in Support of Affirmative Action

August 9, 2017

Earlier today, Asian American scholars and activists organized a Twitter townhall to discuss affirmative action on the hashtag #NotYourWedge.  The six panelists for the event were (including myself):

  • Jenn Fang, Founder/Editor of Reappropriate (@reappropriate)
  • Jason Fong, Former Intervener in SFFA v. Harvard (@jasonfongwrites)
  • Nancy Leong, Law Professor at the University of Denver (@nancyleong)
  • OiYan Poon, Professor of Higher Education at Colorado State University (@spamfriedrice)
  • Anurima Bhargava, Former Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division at the US Department of Justice (@anurima)
  • Janelle Wong, Political Science & Asian American Studies Professor at the University of Maryland (@ProfJanelleWong)

The townhall was co-hosted by:

  • Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (@AAAJ_LA)
  • Vanessa Teck, Doctoral Student (@VanessaTeck)
  • Amanda Assalone, co-Chair of the Asian Pacific American Network (@assalone1)
  • Rachel Luna, Higher Education Doctoral Student (@RachelHLuna)

After the jump, you can read the archive of today’s townhall!

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Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (#AAPI) Writing in Support of Affirmative Action | #NotYourWedge #AAPIforAffAction

August 6, 2017

This post was first published in November 2014. However, with resurgent interest in affirmative action and the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, I have republished this post updated for 2017.

In 2014, two lawsuits were filed by conservative anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum hoping to challenge affirmative action policies by framing the debate around purported anti-Asian bias in selective universities’ admissions policies. In 2017, a memo leaked by the Department of Justice suggests that a major priority of the Trump administration will be to target colleges who use race-conscious affirmative action in their admissions policies, with conservative supporters specifically citing affirmative action’s allegedly negative effects on Asian American applicants.

Thus, the AAPI community finds ourselves once again thrust into the spotlight in the national affirmative action debate. Opponents of affirmative action suggest that these latest legal efforts are on behalf of the AAPI community. They suggest that most AAPIs are against race-conscious affirmative action, yet several studies reveal that more than 65% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders support affirmative action, both in professional and academic settings.

It’s important that we accurately represent the political opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on this issue. Specifically, we must render our community’s support for affirmative action visible.

In 2014, I aggregated a list of AAPI groups and writing in support of affirmative action. I have replicated and modified that list in this post, and will update it over the next several months with additional writing from around the internet.

Please feel free to link to this post as a resource regarding the attitudes of AAPI on affirmative action in the upcoming national debate on this issue. The abundance of this writing demonstrate clearly that while affirmative action is a polarizing topic within the AAPI community, there is strong and vocal support for race-conscious affirmative action in our community that deserves visibility.

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HBO’s APA Visionaries Short Film Contest is Currently Seeking Submissions!

July 17, 2017

After a successful inaugural year that saw winning short films screened at the 2017 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, HBO’s APA Visionaries Short Film competition is back for 2018!

This year, HBO has partnered with the totally awesome Leonardo Nam (Westworld) to seek short film submissions exploring themes of belonging, identity and culture. Check out this year’s competition announcement video (featuring Nam) after the jump!

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BREAKING: Viral Story About “Asian White Supremacist” May Be Fake

July 15, 2017
A screen-capture of a viral Medium essay claiming to be a first-person narrative of an Asian American woman and former neo-Nazi. (Photo credit: Medium)

Editor’s Note: Minutes after this post was published, @hmasculazn deactivated his Twitter account. Shortly afterwards, the viral Medium essay was removed by the author, and the author’s profile was deleted. Some links may no longer work.

In the last two weeks, an essay posted last year on Medium and written by a self-described Asian American woman and former neo-Nazi has gone viral.  “I was an Asian White Supremacist” (Google web cache here) was widely shared through Asian American Twitter and Facebook groups, and it even attracted interest from the editors of prominent Asian American media outlet NextShark who sought to republish the writing.

The essay sparked interest for its first-person depiction of a self-described Taiwanese American woman – “Angie Lee” – who describes growing up in the American South hating her Asian appearance and desiring to become White. Lee further describes how she became romantically involved with a white teenager – “Brandon” – who becomes involved in neo-Nazism. Lee explains that through this relationship, she internalized white supremacy and racism, coming to hate herself, her family (and in particular, her restauranteur  father), and other people of colour. Lee describes how she eventually ran away from home to live with Brandon and fully embrace neo-Nazism, and even became pregnant by Brandon. However, Lee explains that when her son was born, the fact that he appeared more Asian than White caused Brandon to reject both mother and child. The essay concludes with Lee’s description of how she was taken in by a women’s shelter and now raises her son on her own, and has let go of her racial self-hate.

The essay has been widely shared on social media for its supposed evidence of how Asian American women are complicit in white supremacy, and it is often paired with latent attacks on Asian American feminism.

However, some are now wondering whether the essay might also be entirely fake.

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Dashcam Video Shows Brutal Police Assault of Laotian American Man

June 22, 2017
A screen-capture from dashcam footage released today by the ACLU of a traffic stop that led to the police beating of Anthony Promvongsa. (Photo credit: ACLU / YouTube)

Shocking dashcam footage released today by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  of Minnesota shows a police officer brutally attacking a Laotian American man during a traffic stop last summer in Worthington, Minnesota. The ACLU says that the assault was both unconstitutional and excessively violent, and that “[p]eople should not fear that they could be attacked by the police for no reason or while being detained for investigative purposes.”

In the dashcam video (after the jump) which was captured by a second officer at the scene, Anthony Promvongsa (who was 21 at the time of the incident) is seen in the driver’s seat of his parked vehicle when Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force Agent Joe Joswiak (who was off-duty at the time of the incident) approaches the car door with his gun drawn. Joswiak is heard profanely ordering Promvongsa to exit the vehicle. Immediately upon reaching the car door, Joswiak flings it open and begins forcibly pulling Promvongsa from the vehicle. Joswiak appears to knee and punch Promvongsa several times as he forces him to the pavement and handcuffs him. Midway through the video, another uniformed officer — Sgt. Tim Gaul — is also seen inexplicably turning off the audio of the recording dashcam, leaving no record of the verbal exchange between the police and Promvongsa for the remainder of the arrest.

Now, Promvongsa is facing several criminal charges stemming from the traffic stop while Joswiak does not appear to have any sanction for his obvious use of excessive force. The incident took place on July 28, 2016 — just three weeks after Philando Castile was shot and killed in St. Anthony, Minnesota last year by a police officer during a routine traffic stop.

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