Raheel Siddiqui was just 20 years old when he first arrived at Parris Island, where the young Marine recruit faced his first days of training. The young Pakistani American Muslim had been recruited by the Marines while he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he had studied robotics and engineering and dreamed of one day working for the FBI.
On March 18, 2016, only eleven days into his training, Raheel Siddiqui was dead from injuries sustained following a 40 foot fall off of an outside stairwell balcony. Siddiqui’s death was ruled a suicide after a witness said that Siddiqui had became faint and then had thrown himself from the outdoor balcony ledge.
But, Siddiqui’s death has since sparked a major inquiry into a culture of hazing at Parris Island where ethnic and homophobic slurs are the norm and that likely contributed to Siddiqui’s death. An investigation has revealed that only one day after arriving at Parris Island, Siddiqui threatened to commit suicide. When evaluated by mental health professionals, Siddiqui reported that he felt his drill instructor was abusive. However, he withdrew his threat of suicide and was returned to training. Roughly a week later, Siddiqui complained of feeling ill and asked to be allowed to see a doctor. Instead, his drill instructor punished him with grueling on-the-spot physical training. When Siddiqui collapsed from fatigue saying that his throat hurt, his instructor slapped him several times (which is against Marine regulations) immediately before Siddiqui leapt to his death.
Siddiqui’s story is not the first to raise questions about the (mis)treatment of soldiers and cadets of colour in the US military.
Nearly a year after 13-year-old Emilie Olsen was found dead of an apparent suicide, her parents have filed a federal lawsuit against the Fairfield County school district in Ohio alleging that the school didn’t do enough to stop the bullying that led to Emilie’s death.
Emilie, who was adopted at the age of 9 months from China, grew up in Ohio where she faced bullying to severe that she suffered chronic depression and anxiety. The bullying included name-calling, physical abuse, and at least one incident where a girl reportedly followed Emilie into a bathroom with a razor and told her to kill herself. In addition, school bullies engaged in cyber-bullying; they created a social media account that subjected Emilie to slut-shaming and homophobic slurs.
Model Chrissy Teigen (@chrissyteigen) is making headlines this week after she described on Twitter a random encounter she had with an anonymous racist in West Hollywood. Teigen — who is biracially Thai American — tweeted a description of the incident to her over 700,000 followers (after the jump) on April 16.
(Hat-tip to Angry Asian Man)
Earlier last month, David Phan, a student at Bennion Jr. High in Taylorsville, Utah, died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. After being sent home after a trip the principal’s office, Phan reportedly returned to school with a gun that his family kept in a safe. He committed suicide in front a group of horrified students and parents. Students later said that Phan had been repeatedly bullied by several of his schoolmates, although school officials claim Phan never reported the harrassment.
Phan is the latest in a long line of students who have died far too young and at their own hands due, at least in part, to a failure of our culture to deal with schoolyard bullying. This country is long overdue for a real, and not merely reactive, conversation about how to address bullies in our schools, and how to build resources that will help support the victims of bullying.
David Phan’s family is seeking to help build those resources. In David’s memory, the Phan family has established a public memorial fund and are urging the public to donate to the account; all proceeds will go to building anti-bullying educational resources. Here’s the statement the Phan family has released:
Act Now! Please donate to the account, set up through Wells Fargo. Donations may be made at any branch or online in reference to the account name (Anti-Bullying Foundation: In Memory of David Phan) or using this account number: 1015981093.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!