Asian Americans Must Reject Being Used as a Wedge by Those Who Oppose Affirmative Action

aaaj-notyourwedge

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for over an hour with regards to Fisher II, the second hearing of the anti-affirmative action case that centers around the plight of Abigail Fisher, a White woman who applied for admission to the University of Texas in 2008, and was rejected. (Incidentally, I am a co-signer of an amicus brief submitted to the Court in Fisher II in support of race-conscious affirmative action.)

The University of Texas employs a so-called “Top Ten Percent Plan”, wherein the school automatically admits students from each of the state’s high schools who score within the top ten percent of their graduating class. The remainder of available slots are filled through a holistic review process that includes race as one of several characteristics used to assess applicants. Fisher — whose high school grades were insufficient to yield her automatic acceptance to the University of Texas — contends that she was rejected under holistic review because she is White and therefore that the University of Texas violated her 14th Amendment rights. However, independent review of her application and the characteristics of other applicants in 2008 demonstrate that Fisher’s application package was weak in comparison to others in her year, and that her rejection likely had nothing to do with the colour of her skin.

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When Nicholas Kristof Just Doesn’t Get It About Asian Americans

The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof.
The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof.

This is an awkward question, but here goes: How does a respected New York Times opinion-maker expend so many words to say so very little with accuracy about Asian Americans?

Late last week, columnist Nicholas Kristof reignited his earlier conversation on American racial inequity (collected in a series of columns tagged “When Whites Just Don’t Get It”) when he set out to explore the purported cultural underpinnings of supposed Asian American exceptionalism (“The Asian Advantage”). What resulted was an embarrassingly under-reasoned meandering through Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) identity politics, one rife with the kind of Model Minority Myth generalizations and stereotypes best relegated to the set of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor.

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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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No, Asian Americans Were Not Silent on Jerry Hough’s Comments Regarding AAPI Assimilation

Duke University's Professor Jerry Hough.
Duke University professor, Jerry Hough.

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:

Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration. The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-white dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white.

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.

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Unprotected by Assimilation: Lessons from the Case of Duy Ngo

Police officers arrive to the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Photo credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Police officers arrive to the funeral of New York Police Department Officer Wenjian Liu at Aievoli Funeral Home, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Photo credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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?

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