OCA Staff and Interns Demand Accountability in Open Letter

The title of a blog post published in 2013 by @changeOCA, a Tumblr account created by former OCA interns documenting their termination from the organization that year. The 2013 incident is referenced by the author of this post, but ChangeOCA is not directly affiliated with the writing of this post. (Source: Tumblr / ChangeOCA)

By Guest Contributor: Anonymous

For recent college graduates with a passion for social justice, non-profit civil rights organizations make a compelling offer: work for us, make the world a better place, and receive a salary and an office in the bustling heart of downtown Washington, D.C. What better way to apply your bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science than to spend a year working to advance Asian American civil rights in our nation’s capital?

The pitfalls of non-profit work are, of course, well known. Non-profit employees — typically the young and idealistic — are expected to compromise themselves to benefit the ‘greater good’. They are asked to accept poorer salary and workplace mistreatment, and are warned that to do otherwise indicates insufficient commitment to the cause. At some prominent civil rights organizations in the Capital, problems run even deeper than that.

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Yes, All Women. Asian-American Women, Too.

BetterBrave.com’s Tammy Chao, Grace Choi, and Annie Shin created the site as a resource for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. (Photo credit: Huffington Post)
BetterBrave.com’s Tammy Cho, Grace Choi, and Annie Shin created the site as a resource for women who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. (Photo credit: Huffington Post)

By Guest Contributor: Tiffany J. Huang (@tiffjhuang)

In recent weeks, a cascade of sexual harassment accusations against powerful men has reached seemingly every corner of the public sphere. But this outpouring of stories about workplace sexual harassment isn’t new. In 2012, one workplace harassment case, brought forth by an Asian American woman working in venture capital, inspired scores of women to step forward with their own stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Yet these stories, often told by other Asian American women, have not entered the national conversation about workplace sexual harassment with anything resembling the level of attention now being granted to the issue.

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My #MeToo Story: A Childhood Changed

(Photo credit: Flickr / Ole Husby)

By Guest Contributor: Renee Ya (@dnldreams)

(Editor’s Note: Last week, survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault took to social media to trend the #metoo hashtag with their stories. This is one of those stories.)

Is it fucked up that my #metoo story is also one of my earliest memories? In all, I can recall only about four memories from before I started kindergarten, most of them are relatively innocent.

In one memory, my father and I walk down the street of my childhood neighborhood. We were walking towards to the model homes. I was probably two years old.

In another, I run to the bathroom to grab my father some toilet paper. He had cut his finger making us food.

Then, there is the memory of me trying to drink water out of a chopstick. There is even a photo to substantiate my recollections of that moment. My babysitter, whom I love dearly, thinks it would be so funny if they switch out my straw for a chopstick. When I try to drink out of my straw-but-not-a-straw, nothing comes out. I start crying. I am maybe eight months old.

These are the innocent memories formed of a childhood that should have remained innocent.

But then, there is that last memory. It is night time. I don’t see any details of the faces of those crowded outside. I am locked in the cab of an old, beat-up, white pickup truck. Inside the truck, it is just me and my cousin, who is two months older than me.

Is it still sexual assault if no one touches you?

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Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault: Why Asian Americans Must Join The Fight to #StopBetsy

Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz carries the mattress she was raped on, in an art project titled “Carry That Weight”. (Photo credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton)

Today, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would roll back Obama era guidelines to protect victims and survivors of on-campus sexual assault by applying Title IX to on-campus investigations into sexual assault and harassment complaints.

Studies have long confirmed an epidemic of on-campus sexual assault and harassment — one that has been largely overlooked by school administration. An on-campus study conducted by Duke University revealed that an alarming 40% of female undergraduates had experienced sexual assault, as had 10% of male undergraduates. Similarly high rates of sexual assault were found at Yale (38.8% of female undergraduates) as well as in a combined study of 27 universities (23% of female undergraduates). At Cornell, 13% of female undergraduates reported experiencing nonconsensual sexual penetration, one of many forms of sexual assault. These data are highly disturbing: they suggest that a female undergraduate student is 5.5 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the average resident of most major US cities. Furthermore, sexual assault is a highly gendered crime: on-average, female undergraduate students are four to five times more likely to be sexually assaulted than male students.

The issue of on-campus sexual assault is of particular relevance to Asian American women and other women of colour. At Duke, white female undergraduates are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted compared to white male undergraduates; but for Asian American female undergraduate students, the gender disparity in sexual assault rises to more than six times more likely to be assaulted, and Black or Hispanic female undergraduates are at even greater risk of sexual assault. In the larger study of 27 universities, Asian American female students were 4.5 times more likely to have experienced nonconsensual sexual penetration compared to Asian American male students. For Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students, female students were 5.5 times more likely to be assaulted than male students. These gender disparities were higher for Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students than for Black or White undergraduates.

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Asian American Women at the Forefront in the Fight to End Silicon Valley’s Culture of Sexual Harassment

Ellen Pao (Photo credit: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg)

In a new tell-all book (Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change) — which has been excerpted in The Cut — former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers junior partner Ellen Pao reveals the culture of sexual harassment that led to her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against the powerful venture capital firm.  In 2012, Pao filed a major lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins alleging a culture of gender discrimination, and was terminated from the company while her case was ongoing. Despite a valiant legal battle which included the company’s defense engaging in shameless victim blaming and other forms of character assassination, Pao ultimately lost her lawsuit against the firm. Pao went on to serve for two years as CEO of Reddit (where she notably instituted policies curtailing the posting of revenge porn and eliminating some of the site’s most extremist hate-motivated subreddits), before joining Kapor Capital where she currently works.

Pao’s case against Kleiner Perkins was easily one of the most high-profile and influential gender discrimination lawsuits to be filed against a Silicon Valley firm. Although she didn’t win her battle against a large company with access to vast legal resources, Pao’s courageous lawsuit helped to pull back the veil of Silicon Valley’s culture of sexual and gender harassment.

Pao’s case paved the way for many other women — many of them Asian American women — to reveal their own experiences of gender discrimination in tech; and collectively, the courage of these women in speaking out against a culture of sexual harassment in Silicon Valley is having an impact.

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