Race is No Just Cause: The US Government’s Racist Profiling of Asian Americans

Photo credit: Mark Makela/The New York Times
Photo credit: Mark Makela/The New York Times

Earlier this week, I gave a standing-room only talk at Yale about the Asian American Model Minority Myth, wherein I talked about the Myth’s anti-Black underpinnings and its dehumanizing obfuscation of the struggles (and very real racism) faced by the diverse people who belong to the AANHPI community. Afterwards, a young Chinese American woman came up to me and introduced herself: her name was Joyce. Earlier this year, her father (Temple University physics professor and former department chairman, Xiaoxing Xi) had been arrested by the Justice Department and wrongly accused of espionage. In 2002, Xi had worked at a company that had invented something called a pocket heater, which is now a restricted technology used in superconductor research. Later, Xi purchased limited access to the technology for one year to continue his research on it.

In an emotional and heartfelt op-ed published this past week, Joyce recounts how in May of this year, the US Justice Department raided the Xi family home. Twelve FBI agents broke into the house in the early morning hours and pointed guns at a bewildered and terrified Xi, his wife, and their children. The agents dragged Xi away in handcuffs, and accused him of sharing the pocket heater schematics with Chinese scientists in 2010, in a series of emails. They implicated Xi — a US citizen who naturalized in 1989 — as a Chinese spy. In addition to facing federal charges of espionage, Xi became informally black-listed: before even having a chance to defend himself in a court of law, Xi found himself demoted from his departmental chairmanship by Temple University.

One inconvenient problem: Xi appears to be completely innocent.

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NY State Senate candidate John Liu rejects Lt. Gov candidate Tim Wu’s endorsement

John Liu in Manhattan in 2012. ( Photo credit: Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
John Liu in Manhattan in 2012. ( Photo credit: Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

This is virtually unheard of in political campaigns. This is a big frickin’ deal.

Former NYC Comptroller and City Councilman, and current candidate for NY State Senate John Liu, has openly rejected an endorsement from fellow Taiwanese American New York political hopeful Tim Wu, who is a rising rock star in the state’s Lt. Governor’s race. Democratic voters will be choosing between Wu and  establishment candidate Kathy Hochul on September 9th in the Democratic primary for the Lt. Governor’s race.

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ETS and College Board apologizes for racially & culturally insensitive T-shirts

ETS-racist-t-shirt
Front of this year’s AP World History exam essay reading commemorative t-shirt. Photo credit: Angry Asian Man

Last month, Angry Asian Man posted about an incident at this year’s SAT AP World History reading, an annual convention held by the Educational Testing Services (ETS) and the College Board — which administer the SATs and AP exams to high school students — where the written essay portion of AP exams is read and assigned a grade by thousands of teachers and educators. Every year, ETS and the College Board tries to establish a party-like atmosphere around the reading — because really who wants to read thousands of high school essays in one sitting? So, to lighten the atmosphere, entertainment is organized and t-shirts are sold.

This year, one of the possible exam questions involved Chinese communism. And in a profoundly insensitive misstep, organizers decided to theme the reading around racial and cultural mockery of China and the Chinese Communist Party. Oh, yes, they did.

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Chinese editorial calls departing US ambassador Gary Locke a “rotting… banana”

Outgoing Ambassador to China Gary Locke greets Chinese residents. Photo credit: Washington Post.
Outgoing Ambassador to China Gary Locke greets Chinese residents. Photo credit: Washington Post.

By most accounts, Gary Locke — former governor of Washington (and the first Asian American to do so), and later Secretary of Commerce for the Obama administration in its first term — has excelled in his most recent position, which he has held since 2011: that of America’s Ambassador to China.

The first Chinese American to hold the position (his predecessors have all been White), Locke has earned himself the reputation of being a fair and unassuming ambassador (a virtual prerequisite for this specific type of position); one whose low-key nature has helped ease relationships between America and one of its largest economic and militaristic peers on the global stage. Although his position requires Locke to firmly but diplomatically represent American positions to the Chinese government — positions that aren’t by definition always going to be popular with China’s top officials — Locke has reportedly performed this task effectively.

And, it is precisely this firm but low-key persona that has made him something of a superstar with street-level Chinese residents, a tactic he might have learned from his train-riding, man-of-the-people compatriot, Vice President Joe Biden.

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China closes labour camps, eases one-child policy

Inmates in a Chinese labor camp work under watch of a guard.
Inmates in a Chinese labor camp work under watch of a guard.

In a major announcement, the Chinese government committed today to several major changes to national policy.

The most profound change comes to China’s controversial (and unambiguously inhumane) “re-education through labour” prison camps, which are part of a forced labour program started in 1957 and which have come under national scrutiny recently for allegations of torture and other human rights violations. The camps were established during the era of Mao Zedong, and were intended to segregate political dissenters away from the general population under the guise of “re-education” or “re-socialization”; hundreds such labour camps are believed to have existed throughout the Chinese countryside at one point. In the last month, major news outlets picked up the story of a man imprisoned at one such camp who surreptitiously sent letters for help to the United States packaged in Halloween decorations sold in K-mart.

A picture of the upper half of one such letter, includes details about the camp and asks for the recipient to get help.
A picture of the upper half of one such letter, includes details about the camp and asks for the recipient to get help.

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