By Guest Contributor: Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote (@apiavote)
Edison town council member Sapana Shah realized something was wrong the moment she checked social media, learning that she and her neighbors received the same anti-Asian mailer Wednesday which featured a “deport” stamp on the photos of two Asian school board candidates. The postcard also read, “The Chinese and Indians are taking over our town.”
Targeting candidates based on bias and hate toward various ethnic, racial or religious identity is not new. And Shah is no stranger to it as a candidate. She recounted multiple incidents to me over the phone. Shah, a long-time resident in the Edison township of Middlesex County, New Jersey, was told to go back to her country when she ran for local elected office. She once found her campaign signs inscribed with the words “dot head,” an offensive racial slur. As a town council member, Shah endured insults from residents who shouted her down at the end of a public meeting for voting to include Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, as a school holiday.
When individuals are targets of hate, it not only affects them but also entire communities.
An unknown number of Edison, New Jersey residents received a racist, anti-Asian campaign mailer in the post earlier this week attacking local school board candidates Falguni Patel and incumbent Jerry Shi. The mailer proclaims that we should “Make Edison Great Again” and that “the Chinese and Indians are taking over our town!”
“Chinese school! Indian school! Cricket fields! Enough is Enough!!” reads the text of the postcard, which also includes images of Patel and Shi above “Deport” graphics.
The back of the mailer lists several anti-Asian stereotypes — including the Perpetual Foreigner stereotype — with the text: “Stop the overcrowding! Stop taking over our sports fields! Stop the McMansions! Stop the multiple families living in the same house! Stop wasting school holidays! Stop the outsiders! Let’s take back our Edison & our schools!”
The arrests come shortly after the Cambodian government announced over the summer that they would temporarily halt the issuing of travel visas for refugees facing deportation by the US government to Cambodia. Cambodian officials are seeking renegotiation of a 2002 U.S.-Cambodia agreement to address the separation of deported refugees from the American families.
The story of two hikers feared lost in Joshua Tree National Park — located approximately 2 hours drive east of Los Angeles — has taken a dark turn this week. Three months after the couple — 22-year-old Joseph Orbeso and 20-year-old Rachel Nguyen — was reported missing after embarking on a trip to the national park for Nguyen’s birthday, two bodies were found in an apparent “embrace” in a remote part of the park.
The couple was reported missing in late July after failing to check out of their AirBnB. Authorities discovered their car at a trail-head at Joshua Tree National Park, which prompted a search-and-rescue operation that spent nearly 2100 hours scouring the park for the missing hikers before scaling back operations in August. Nonetheless, family of the missing hikers never gave up hope that the two would be found.
On Sunday, a park ranger discovered two bodies suspected to be that of Orbeso and Nguyen in a steep canyon north of the park’s Maze Trail Loop. Now, authorities confirm the identities of the bodies and report that autopsy results also suggest that the couple likely died of an apparent murder-suicide.
(Editor’s Note: Last week, survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault took to social media to trend the #metoo hashtag with their stories. This is one of those stories.)
Is it fucked up that my #metoo story is also one of my earliest memories? In all, I can recall only about four memories from before I started kindergarten, most of them are relatively innocent.
In one memory, my father and I walk down the street of my childhood neighborhood. We were walking towards to the model homes. I was probably two years old.
In another, I run to the bathroom to grab my father some toilet paper. He had cut his finger making us food.
Then, there is the memory of me trying to drink water out of a chopstick. There is even a photo to substantiate my recollections of that moment. My babysitter, whom I love dearly, thinks it would be so funny if they switch out my straw for a chopstick. When I try to drink out of my straw-but-not-a-straw, nothing comes out. I start crying. I am maybe eight months old.
These are the innocent memories formed of a childhood that should have remained innocent.
But then, there is that last memory. It is night time. I don’t see any details of the faces of those crowded outside. I am locked in the cab of an old, beat-up, white pickup truck. Inside the truck, it is just me and my cousin, who is two months older than me.