Lifting the veil on conditional whiteness: A wake-up call to Asian Americans still holding on to the Model Minority Myth

An image of Trump's notes at a press conference wherein the word "corona" is crossed out and replaced with the word "Chinese". (Photo credit: Getty)

By Guest Contributor: Dorothy He

Over the past few months, many non-Black Asian Americans across the country watched as our racial status began shifting, after years of living within and sometimes even openly accepting the confines of the Model Minority Myth. Several of these “positive” stereotypes have long been passively or even actively accepted by many in the Asian American community, such as the ones perpetuated by Andrew Yang during his presidential campaign — for instance, the idea that all Asians are doctors, are smart and like math, and won’t speak out or cause trouble. Such stereotypes have not only caused untold damage to the well-being of Asian Americans and stymied attempts at solidarity within our communities and in relation to other communities of color, but they never offered any genuine protection of our status or proof of our “Americanness” to begin with.

Those who trusted in the power of conditional whiteness to protect Asian Americans harbored a belief that a stable income, a respectable profession, and a low profile could somehow protect us from racist and completely unfounded attacks. They are wrong. Conditional whiteness is dangerous precisely because of its roots in white supremacy vis-à-vis capitalism; ultimately, it weaponizes people of color against their own communities by making individuals complicit in perpetuating racism and exhibiting dominance over other nonwhite bodies — in particular, Black and Brown bodies — in their journey to reach the American Dream.

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BREAKING: ICE Rescinds International Student Rule Requiring In-Person Classes

File Photo: A gavel, and a balance placed upon on open book.

Just one week after ICE announced they would require international students to attend in-person classes in order to remain in the country, the Trump administration has rescinded the controversial rule. In their earlier announcement, ICE had said that students on F-1 or M-1 visas would be required to leave the United States if they enrolled for courses held entirely online. Students attending universities holding courses entirely online in the fall would be forced to depart the country or transfer to a different school. This despite the fact that the number of new COVID-19 infections continues to rise, and that the CDC considers in-person college classes to significantly heighten the risk of coronavirus spread.

ICE’s announced rule was met with swift backlash from immigration rights activists as well as the nation’s colleges and universities. Within a day of the announcement, Harvard and MIT filed the first of eight lawsuits against ICE challenging the rule; others to sue ICE over the rule include John Hopkins University, the University of California, and 17 states as well as the District of Columbia. Over two hundred students, schools, local governments, and organizations also came together to file 13 amicus briefs in the Harvard and MIT lawsuit — all in support of Harvard’s and MIT’s position.

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Asians 4 Black Lives: Structural Racism is the Pandemic, Interdependence and Solidarity is the Cure

A handmade Black Lives Matter sign posted on a mailbox. (Photo credit: Reappropriate)

By Guest Contributor: Asians4BlackLives (@Asians4BlkLives)

This essay was originally posted on Medium, and is republished here at the request of the authors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a new surge in violence against Asian communities across the world. Several high-profile instances of anti-Asian racist violence—spurred on by casually racist remarks at every level of government, business, and popular culture—have created a terrorizing climate for many. In San Francisco Chinatown for example, overt xenophobia, combined with the economic impact of shelter-in-place orders, has left immigrants, elders, limited English-speaking people, and poor folks feeling like targets. In San Francisco, where a staggeringly disproportionate 50% of the COVID-19 mortalities are from the Asian and Pacific Islander community, the pandemic has ushered in multiple violences. This has been further exacerbated by pre-existing crises: gentrification, displacement, homelessness, police terror, inequities in education, a drastic uptick in deportations, antagonism against trans and queer people, poverty, and exploitation. 

Nationally, Black people are dying from COVID-19 at rates twice as high as other groups, an outcome of deeply embedded structural racism in healthcare, housing, labor, and other policies. Communities are weakened from decades of housing discrimination and redlining, forced denser housing, targeted criminalization and incarceration, larger numbers of pre-existing health conditions, and less access to affordable healthy food. Black communities are more likely to live in places with air pollution, rely on public transit, and be essential workers, so exposure rates increase. When Black people fall ill with COVID-19, racism in the healthcare system means lack of access to quality care, testing kits, or funds for treatment. In some cases, like for Zoe Mungin, they are simply not believed and turned away from treatment, until it is too late

We must recognize that the scapegoating of Asians as the harbingers of disease and the state violence against Black people (via systemic policing and state response to the pandemic) are two sides of the same coin. This system of oppression is what indicates whether we live or die. This moment makes it even clearer that we must radicalize our communities for cross-racial solidarity. 

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Over 800 Asian American-Related Hate Incidents Reported in California

An image of Trump's notes at a press conference wherein the word "corona" is crossed out and replaced with the word "Chinese". (Photo credit: Getty)

The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council‘s Stop AAPI Hate project reported in a press briefing this week that they have received over 800 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in California alone. The group has previously said it has received nearly two thousand reports of anti-Asian hate incidents nationwide.

Trump has continued to use the term “Kung Flu” and “China virus” at press conferences and campaign rallies, despite repeated criticisms that the phrases contribute to disease racialization of COVID-19. Stop AAPI Hate is one of several hate crime trackers launched to record the effect of this racialization on Asian Americans, and data from these projects paint a stark picture of anti-Asian hate in recent months. Of the more than 800 reports from California that Stop AAPI Hate has received since its inception, approximately 10% have involved physical assault, and a further 8% have involved suspected federal civil rights violations, such as workplace discrimination.

Most alarmingly, Asian American women in California are nearly twice as likely to report experiencing an incident of anti-Asian hate than men — and that disparity is even more stark nationwide.

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Navigating Intergenerational Trauma Amidst Quarantine

A woman looks out the window, with her back against a bed.

By Guest Contributor: Jenny Lee

My family and I do not agree on much — whether that is what food tastes good, how good of a daughter I am, or if I intend for my words to carry so much bitterness as they escape through my lips.

I have always sought a justification for this dissonance — a quick and easy answer as to why our family feels so divided. I blamed our immigration, the cultural and experiential gap that it has created between mother and daughter. I blamed Korean society, whose standards and expectations entrap me when I stray away from its conventions. I blamed White American society, which has upheld these systems of power and has thrust such an inferiority complex onto this family — both as a collective and as individuals — that it has pushed us from assimilation to preservation, from love to hate.

There is both love and hate in this family.

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