Ours is a History of Resistance

By: Karin Wang (@naragirl), Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Since we launched “Write Back, Fight Back” two months ago, we have witnessed the power of words to name our struggles, reclaim our identities, and voice our power. We close out our series by centering the story of Asian immigrants challenging racism through the courts and in many cases, winning and changing the course of American history.

No current narrative of Asian Americans is more closely tied to white supremacy and historic white nativist policies than the model minority myth. First coined and promulgated in the mid-1960s by white Americans, the term referred to Japanese and Chinese Americans, focusing obsessively on their seeming success in the face of discrimination. The model minority myth gets denounced on a regular basis lately, and many journalists, writers, and activists have analyzed and challenged the economic and class implications of the myth and the damage it does less privileged Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

But there’s another insidious side to the model minority myth that needs the same unpacking and deconstructing:  the narrative of the quiet and obedient Asian – the one who works twice as hard and neither complains nor challenges authority. The myth was born at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, deliberately juxtaposing Asians against other racial minorities. It’s an image used not only to keep Asian Americans in their place but one that upholds white supremacy.

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150+ AAPI Civil Rights Organizations Join National Open Letter in Support of Affirmative Action

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Less than one week after an Asian American group (comprised of predominantly Chinese American organizations) announced that they had filed a complaint to the Department of Education against Yale University, Brown University and Dartmouth College alleging anti-Asian bias in the school’s admissions policies, the national AAPI civil rights community has responded with a clear message: these conservative Chinese American opponents of affirmative action do not speak for all us.

Today, over 150 of the nation’s AAPI civil rights organizations came together in an open letter of support for the continuation of race-conscious affirmative action. In recognition of the critical role that race-sensitive admissions has played — and continues to play — in creating access to higher education for underrepresented groups, our community’s civil rights institution has reaffirmed our unwavering defense for classroom diversity and education access for all.

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2015 Asian America in Review: Top 10 AANHPI Stories You Might Have Missed

Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi, two Chinese American researchers who faced espionage investigations this year before all charges were dropped. Many within the AANHPI community believe they are one of several victims of a policy of anti-Asian racial profiling currently being pursued by the State Department. (Photo credit: Saul Loeb, AFP, Getty)
Sherry Chen and Xiaoxing Xi, two Chinese American researchers who faced espionage investigations this year before all charges were dropped. Many within the AANHPI community believe they are one of several victims of a policy of anti-Asian racial profiling currently being pursued by the State Department. (Photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

As the year winds down to a close, these are the top ten political stories that had a major impact on the AANHPI community highlighting the many political issues that have defined the AANHPI community this year. Sadly, many didn’t receive much mainstream media coverage.

How many of these stories were you following this year?

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Roanoke Mayor Apologizes for Comments Justifying Japanese American Incarceration

Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, VA. (Photo credit: Ryan Stone / Washington Post)
Mayor David Bowers of Roanoke, VA. (Photo credit: Ryan Stone / Washington Post)

Just two days after his absurd statement — wherein he justified turning away of Syrian refugees with the reasoning that the US federal government was correct in treating Japanese American citizens and nationals with similar racial suspicion and hostility — went viral, Mayor David Bowers has reportedly apologized.

Bowers’ three-paragraph press statement from earlier this week  buzzed through social media, with angry constituents and Asian Americans calling for the mayor to apologize and/or resign. Several officials of the state of Virginia — including Roanoke City Council members and Bowers’ own Vice Mayor — joined in that outcry, and condemnation of Bowers’ statement showered down upon the Mayor’s office from both sides of the aisle.

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Reappropriate Joins AANHPI Organizations in Filing as SCOTUS Amici for Affirmative Action | #Edu4All

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Three national Asian American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander civil rights organizations filed separate amicus briefs today in support of affirmative action; the briefs were filed in relation to the upcoming Fisher v. University of Texas case scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 9th.

In addition to briefs filed by the Asian American Legal Defense Fund (AALDEF) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the brief filed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) was signed by over 160 national AANHPI groups and individuals, including by this blog. Other signatories hail from all parts of the AANHPI diaspora, in terms of ethnicity, gender and group focus.

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