Trump’s Asian American Judges Are No Friends to AAPI Community

Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao testifies before the Senate at her confirmation hearing last month. (Photo credit: Zach Gibson / Getty)

By Guest Contributors: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (NAPAWF), Quyen Dinh (SEARAC), and Alvina Yeh (APALA)

Last month, the Senate voted to confirm D.C. Circuit Court nominee Neomi Rao, who will now be the first Indian American woman to sit on a federal appeals court.

Critics have repeatedly shed light on the dearth of people of color among Trump’s judicial nominees, especially when compared to those of President Obama. Trump has nominated not a single African American or Latino to federal appeals courts amongst a sea of white men. Despite this, two other conservative Asian American federal appeals court nominees in addition to Rao face imminent confirmations–and lifetime appointments–to the U.S. judiciary: Michael Park and Kenneth Lee, to the Second and Ninth Circuits, respectively, have also received hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Don’t be fooled: these appeals court nominees are a danger to civil rights and justice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community; they are pawns in Trump’s larger scheme to uphold white supremacy under the guise of promoting racial diversity in the top ranks of government.

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Oakland Unified School District Votes to Cut Program Serving Asian American and Pacific Islander Students

Hundreds of community members attend an Oakland Unified School District meeting to support the APISA program as well as Restorative Justice and Foster Care counselors. (Photo credit: Twitter/@jeanquan)

With reporting from Reappropriate intern V. Huynh.

“Today is a historic day in the city of Oakland where teachers, educators are united with parents, students, and we are demanding that we have schools that our students deserve here in the city of Oakland,” said Keith Brown, President of the Oakland Education Association last month at a gathering of over 3,000 educators, students, and parents at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. The activists represented over 87 schools in the Oakland United School District (OUSD), and later marched to OUSD headquarters chanting phrases like “Education Not Incorporation” and “Invest in Equity”.

The educators were marching to demand better wages, better support for students, and the better allocation of educational resources to schools who share histories of disproportionate funding and attention. Pithily put: This one’s about the kids.

In a larger fight between OUSD and the local community over a new OUSD budget that would slash several items focused on underserved students, one of the many issues angering local activists was a proposal last month by OUSD to cut the school district’s APISA program – the only program in the district aimed towards supporting underrepresented and underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

Despite the efforts of many community activists last month to launch the #SaveAPISA movement to save the APISA program, the Oakland United School District board voted last week to pass a budget that lacked funding for this initiative. The budget which resulted in the ending of APISA — the district’s only program aimed at supporting underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander students — passed by only a single vote; but that one vote is enough to eliminate necessary resources for marginalized and struggling youth.

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Orange is the New Black and Recidivism: The Need for Accurate Media Representations of the Many Causes of Incarceration

Actor Danielle Brooks as Taystee in Netflix's Orange Is The New Black (Photo credit: Netflix / Orange is the New Black)

By Guest Contributor:Rachel Ko

About 50,000 people a year exit incarceration only to enter immediately into homeless shelters; legal restrictions and discrimination against individuals with criminal records are often to blame. As has been well-documented, the incarceration rate for African Americans is more than six times the incarceration rate for white Americans. African Americans also make up more than 40 percent of the homeless population, despite representing only 13 percent of the general population.

Even though general statistics don’t simultaneously track the effects of race on incarceration and homelessness, anti-Black racial stigma amplifies the measurable social impacts of both. Individuals released from prisons are more likely to be re-arrested for misdemeanor offense they commit in order to survive on the streets, but many scholars have failed to sufficiently connect recidivism, homelessness and incarceration.

A more successful representation of these connections is the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black. Through Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, a compassionate, intelligent, and likeable African American character, Orange is the New Black sheds light on the lack of rehabilitative resources and support systems that cause re-incarceration of individuals suffering from poverty. Taystee’s story shows us that crime is not a single action; rather, it is a series of events and complex social factors.

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Defending Diversity on Campus

Side View of statue of John Harvard by Daniel Chester French. (Photo credit: Farrell Grehan/CORBIS)

By Guest Contributors: Itzel Vasquez-Rodriguez and Sally Chen

The value of a “Harvard education” — which draws students around the world with its promise to produce the future “citizen-leaders for our society” — is inextricably linked to the university’s affirmative action policy. 

The two of us – Sally, a Chinese American senior at Harvard, and Itzel, a Xicana who graduated in 2017 – owe our education to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy. We just testified in the lawsuit SFFA v. Harvard, which claims that Harvard’s policy discriminates against Asian American applicants.

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The Triumph Beyond Sandra Oh’s Trophy

Sandra Oh at the 2019 Golden Globes.

By Guest Contributor: Jacqueline Wong

Sandra Oh recently made history three times at the 76th Golden Globes Awards as the first Asian American host, the first Asian American woman to win multiple Golden Globes, and the first Asian American woman in nearly 40 years to win for Best Actress in a TV Drama for her role in Killing Eve

Yet it was not just her hosting duties or her receipt of a Best Actress award that made the night so special for Asian Americans.  Rather, it was how Oh unabashedly celebrated her Asian-ness on live TV.  Asian Americans have rarely been given the opportunity to have their faces or voices broadcasted live on such a large platform.  By owning her Asian identity on stage, Oh took back control of the Asian American narrative.

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