An infographic by Adoptees for Justice on the Adoptee Citizenship Act. (Photo credit: Adoptees for Justice)
By Guest Contributor: Olivia Zalecki
It is 2 am and, like the reasonable young person I am, I’ve traded sleep for the almost too close for comfort act of scrolling aimlessly through my Instagram page. Dispersed between the typical photos of food and friends, I came across a post by an adoption organization. The post featured an image of a young Chinese child. My thumb hovered over the image. In the photo the sweet child was captured giggling in the arms of a white volunteer. The caption underneath read, “Help them find their loving forever family.”
I have seen images like this before. The messaging was hardly anything new. As a Chinese adoptee, I am well aware of the pervasiveness of such messaging.
November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM). This time of year my feed becomes saturated with adoption-related posts like the one mentioned. There is a crucial distinction to be made between adoption-related and adoptee-created posts. The former, in my experience, usually involves organizations promoting adoption as a “public good” and many adoptive parents virtue-signaling how adopting their child from [insert any foreign nation here] saved them.
However, the non-adopted community often doesn’t realize that these posts don’t tell the whole story. Adoption does not always come with a “forever family” or a happily ever after.
Student activists have repeatedly petitioned that the administration do something to address campus climate with regard to Asian American students. The hostile on-campus environment for Asian American students was demonstrated in 2013 when a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, held an anti-Asian themed party which included a really racist publicity email and party-goers dressed in geisha-gear, coolie hats, and other forms of costumed yellowface.
Since 2013 (and indeed, since much earlier), Asian American students at Duke have pointed out that an Asian American Studies program and major would go a long way towards addressing a campus climate that would allow a frat to organize a racist, anti-Asian costume party in the first place.
This past week, Asian American scholars and activists (organized under the group, AAPIVoices) staged a nationwide week of action (#AAPIAction) around topics of immigration justice and the future of Asian American & Pacific Islander political organizing. Compelled by recent assaults on immigrant rights and the Muslim community by the Trump administration, advocacy groups across the country hosted events — including many held on college and university campuses — to promote AAPI political activism around social justice issues.
On event associated with #AAPIAction was hosted at the University of Maryland last Monday. While participants sought to raise the profile of Asian Americans in opposing the rescinding of DACA and anti-immigrant policies, the gathering at UMD was part of a larger effort among coalition partners, including a diverse group of student organizations, staff and faculty to stand up for immigrants, counter xenophobia, and recognize Indigenous People’s Day. At the event, nearly a hundred students gathered around a statue of writer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass — situated outside the campus’ R. Lee Hornbake Library — to protest in support of documented and undocumented immigrants, and against the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to pass a Muslim travel ban. During the event, several students took to the base of the statue to share their perspectives on immigration justice and other social justice issues.
In the wake of — well, everything that’s happening right now in the United States; but most specifically, the Trump administration’s efforts to impose a ban on Muslim travel and restrict rights for other immigrants — community organizers and educators are organizing a national AAPI Week of Action for the week of October 7 – 14th.
Under the banner of AAPI Voices, organizers are hoping that community activists across the country — and particularly student activists — will pledge to host an event focused on social justice and solidarity with national anti-racism movements. Some ideas for events include teach-ins, rallies, letter-writing campaigns, Wikipedia edit-a-thons, fundraising events, and more.
I have pledged to support the #AAPIAction Week of Action, and details for the event I will host or participate in are forthcoming. (Also, taking suggestions! Comment below!)
Regardless, if you are an organizer, an activist, or even just someone hoping to get involved in someone else’s event, please check out the sign-up page here. Register before October 1st to be entered into a raffle for cool prizes! Also, don’t forget to share your involvement through the hashtag #AAPIAction.
Full text from the call for participation after the jump.