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.
This story is perhaps the perfect one to pull me out of my self-mandated, unannounced, unofficial mini-hiatus from blogging, which took place last week because my dayjob temporarily required my full and undivided attention.
A few months ago, Duke University professor Jerry Hough made headlines with an ill-advised New York Times comment wherein the elder political science professor bizarrely claimed:
Over the long weekend, Victoria Razzi — a sophomore at Syracuse University and writer for The College Fix — resurrected this story with a poorly-researched article (“Asian American studies professors stay silent on Asian vs. Black integration“) apparently designed from start-to-finish to inflame the AAPI community.
This article is the height of shoddy journalism. It is Internet-age pseudoscience at its finest.
By Guest Contributor: Bao Phi
When I began reading that a White House petition had collected 100,000 signatures — many of them reportedly Chinese names — in defense of Peter Liang, a cop who shot and killed an unarmed Black man during a patrol of a housing project in New York, I was perplexed. At a time when the horrible abuse and killing of nonwhite bodies, predominantly Black, was making the news every week, why were so many Asian people defending an officer who wrongfully killed a Black man? And where were these 100,000 people during the wrongful death lawsuit by the family of slain Hmong teenager Fong Lee, killed by a white officer (awarded a Medal of Valor for the killing) with a history of abuse against Black and Hmong people?
But I took a step back, and read about some of the Chinese people who were in support of Liang. Some of them felt he was scapegoated. Some claimed the Liang case was about political maneuvering. Some said they were tired of being pushed around. What was going on here? How was the information on this case being broadcast in non-English media? It’s hard to get more than 100,000 Asians in America to sign onto anything — who got them to sign on to support this officer?
To some, it all may seem cut and dried. Asians are just being selfish and anti-Black again, only coming out of their wannabe white lifestyles to support one of their own. But then what about the cases where Asians have been the victims of police violence that don’t draw anywhere near the same zeitgeist? How do those instances of racist violence against Asians, statistically not as frequent but still racist, fit into our understanding of state sanctioned violence against Asian bodies?
For this year’s AAPI Heritage Month, I will take each day to pull one of my favourite posts or pieces from the archives highlighting some aspect of AAPI history and heritage, and add to it a short commentary and reflection. I invite you to check back every day for this #ReappropriateRevisited month-long feature!
With the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement has come a series of important protests and uprisings, drawing attention to the persistent abuse that Black men and women face at the hands of police. Yet, even as mainstream attention is forced to focus on Blackness, a dubious narrative invariably also emerges: one that would pit Blacks against the supposedly more well-behaved and upwardly mobile Asian Americans. It took mere days for the media to distract from a larger discussion of Blackness and racial justice by focusing instead on Black-Asian tensions, told most recently by NPR through the lens of Asian American victims of Black protest movements.
Jeff Yang takes on this tired trope of Asian Americans distractingly pitted against Blacks in the struggle for Black uplift in his most recent editorial for CNN. His piece reminds me of David Shih’s recent viral article on the history of the Model Minority Myth, and its importance with regard to the Black Solidarity movement.
Meanwhile, for today’s ReappropriateRevisted, I pull from the archives one of my favourite pieces that I’ve written for the site. This post also dismantling the Model Minority Myth with relation to the Right’s stereotype of choice: Asian American cultural predispositions for academic achievement. It also ponders the question as to why some Asian Americans so deeply embrace this particular brand of the Model Minority Myth.
So this happened.
I guess because Bill Maher’s battle of wits (in absentia) with Ben Affleck over Maher’s latent Islamophobia went viral last week and Jon Stewart could be having none of that, Stewart invited on Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly last night ostensibly to promote O’Reilly’s newest book — something-something-General-Patton-no-one-cares — but really with the singular goal of getting Papa Bear to admit the existence of White privilege (video after the jump).
And, if that was Stewart’s goal, he failed utterly at it. Instead, what we were left with was an incoherent 12-minute sputtering contest between an avowed liberal so flabbergasted by conservative obstinance that he was rendered largely speechless, and a Fox News anchor who looked for all the world like he was being held hostage on set.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!