Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong this week to participate in a mass act of non-violent civil disobedience against the Chinese government. For days, protesters — many of them college-aged students and teenagers — have gathered near the city’s government buildings; they are chanting, marching, raising their fists, sleeping on the street, and wielding umbrellas against tear gas — all in defiance of a political and economic ruling class that threatens to revoke a democratic process promised to Hong Kong voters since the city’s 1997 handover from British rule to the Chinese government.
Most of us have been in thrall with the events in Hong Kong right now. We are following the events in Hong Kong with anticipation through mainstream news and social media. But, we must do more than offer just our support for the events taking place on the streets of Hong Kong right now; we should be getting inspired. Hong Kong’s Occupy Central protests are not just another demonstration happening somewhere halfway around the world; they have become an international symbol of freedom against political and economic tyranny that is informed by, and is informing, the experiences of AAPI and Americans alike.
Those of us in the West should be taking note.
Three years ago this Thursday, 19-year-old Private Danny Chen was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Chen had recently enlisted in the US Army, hoping it would prepare him for a career in the NYPD. According to the New York Post, Chen was initially thrilled about his budding military career.
But, within months of his deployment to Afghanistan, Chen’s mother, Su Zhen Chen, was receiving the news no parent of a soldier wants to hear: Private Chen was dead. Worse yet, his death appears to have come as the tragic culmination of weeks of abuse committed by the men — all White — who should have been his brothers-in-arms.
Think you know what a BAD is? How about a SCAB?
Episode 7 of Reappropriate: The Podcast is now live! In this episode, I’m joined by guests Juliet Shen (@juliet_shen, Fascinasians), KJ Park (@kyungjunpark), and Trungles (@trungles) to discuss how the interracial relationship issue within the AAPI community informs — and is informed by — notions of gender, sexuality and white supremacy. Definitely worth checking out!
You can stream the audio and video of the episode through YouTube (above) or just the audio version (below). Subscribe to the podcast through the iTunes store or through YouTube.
Next episode: Please join me next week (October 6th, 9pm EST / 6pm PST) for part two of my conversation with Cayden Mak (@cayden) of 18MillionRising on digital activism as decolonial tools of social change. You can RSVP to watch here!
Last week, I posted about a mind-numbingly horrible segment aired by Fox News’ Cashin’ In regarding anti-Muslim profiling. In it, hedge fund manager Jonathan Hoenig made the following commentary:
This was commentary that could only be interpreted as full-throated support for Japanese American internment and the murder of thousands of Japanese civilians when executed in the pursuit of American military victory; Hoenig rationalizes therefore that anti-Muslim profiling is similarly justified (video of full original segment after the jump). Hoenig’s logic is so unspeakably flawed and immoral as to demand an accounting.
I was having dinner earlier this week with a member of my extended family when the topic of race-conscious affirmative action and SCA-5 came up. My family member (who is not Asian American) was surprised to learn that I support affirmative action; he was under the impression that all Asian Americans were monolithically opposed to race-conscious admissions considerations. “What?” he asked, somewhat teasingly, “don’t you want Asians to be able to get into college?”
I have written extensively about how affirmative action doesn’t prevent Asian Americans from accessing college: 1) affirmative action does not permit race to be used as a determinative factor in admissions decisions so any use of affirmative action to deny Asian American access to college based on race alone is unconstitutional, 2) there are several ethnic groups within the AAPI diaspora, including Southeast Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, who are contemporary active beneficiaries of race-conscious affirmative action, 3) East Asian Americans (e.g. Chinese Americans) who have been present in America longer than other AAPIs have traditionally been active beneficiaries of race-conscious affirmative action particularly in the mid-twentieth century when Chinese and Chinese American students were actively recruited to elite universities to end racial segregation; only in the last two or three decades have we no longer received additional consideration under race-conscious affirmative action, and 4) all students, regardless of race, benefit from the diverse student life that is achieved through race-conscious affirmative action considerations in college admissions through broader exposure to different viewpoints as well as better preparation for an increasingly globalized market.
All this aside, there is a persistent myth within the American political landscape that Asian Americans are universally opposed to affirmative action. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the affirmative action issue is one that highlights the diversity in Asian American political thought.