When I first heard about a planned march to amass the nation’s women to highlight women’s rights and in protest against the Trump administration on the day after his inauguration, I was initially hesitant. In originally billing the event as the “Million Women March” and advertising it as the first street protest of its kind, organizers overlooked the original “Million Woman March” successfully organized by Black feminists two decades ago. When this appropriation of Black feminist history was pointed out by feminists of colour, event organizers were dismissive of (and even hostile to) the critique. Instead, (White feminist) event organizers and early supporters offered the same familiar, callous, and white-washing refrain: that feminists of colour were being divisive in raising the spectre of race, and that we should put aside racial differences to provide a united feminist front in opposition to the misogyny of Trump.
Never mind, of course, that we were being asked to rally in unity under the banner of White feminism, which too often overlooks and deprioritizes women of colour and other marginalized women through its uncritical universalization of the lived experiences of Whit straight abled cis-women. Over the years, I have been lectured at countless times by White feminists who resent and reject my brand of non-white feminism; I had no interest in voluntarily exposing myself to that kind of toxic and intolerant space yet again.
But then, something about the event changed. In response to criticism, event founders re-named the march the “Women’s March on Washington” and invited prominent feminists of colour to organize the event. The Women’s March began to embrace a more intersectional framework for its feminism. Organizers acknowledged the March’s relationship to Black feminist history and took steps to acknowledge and commemorate the earlier work of Black feminists. White feminists were reminded that even within feminist spaces, they should do the work of being better white allies to feminists of colour; and that there is never a time when they can or should stop reflecting (and respecting) more and “whitesplaining” less. When some early White feminist supporters spoke against the efforts to make the event more inclusive of women of colour, they were actually told they were wrong!
With these developments, my fears were (somewhat) assuaged. It seemed increasingly clear that while White feminism still has a long way to go, the Women’s March on Washington (and its many satellite events in local cities) was taking steps to be a safe(r) space for feminists of colour and other marginalized feminists.
And so, I have made the (cautious) decision: I will march on Saturday in the Women’s March in New York City.
To encourage better and broader civic engagement within the AAPI community in Trump’s America, #DearMyAAPIRep is a new feature that will appear semi-regularly in 2017 that will feature an open letter written to specific Asian American & Pacific Islander elected officials. Each letter will highlight an issue of particular relevance to the AAPI community and will invite a response from our elected officials.
Dear Rep. Ami Bera, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Rep. Grace Meng, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Rep. Ro Khanna, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Rep. Doris Matsui, and Rep. Bobby Scott,
On Friday, the power of the United States’ highest office will peacefully transfer from the nation’s first Black president and to a man who rose to prominence by fomenting a racist “whitelash” against his presidency. Over the course of the 2016 campaign, President-elect Donald Trump deployed racism, sexism, Islamophobia, homophobia, classism, ableism, threats of violence, and the promise of exclusionary immigration laws to cement his majority support among all subgroups of white voters. Today, it remains unclear exactly what legislative damage we might expect with the Trump administration – there is no need for me to list the many looming threats to our liberties and civil rights posed by Trump’s inauguration — but, it is certain that life will be much harder for people of colour under A President Donald J. Trump.
As of this morning, nearly 60 members of Congress have joined a national Congressional boycott against Trump’s inauguration. The boycott was inspired by President-elect Trump’s disdainful (and overtly racist) tweets against civil rights legend (and sitting US Representative) John Lewis. Trump ushered in Martin Luther King Day weekend celebrations with an accusation that Rep. Lewis — who grew up in Jim Crow segregation and who nearly gave his life to the Civil Rights Movement — was “all talk” and that he should focus on fixing soaring crime rates in his “falling apart” district. (In reality, Lewis represents one of the wealthiest, and least crime-ridden, districts in Georgia.) In response to this bizarre and offensive attack, Rep. Lewis mused that Trump was not “a legitimate president”, citing US Intelligence reports that Russia had deliberately influenced the election’s outcome for Trump.
In the wake of this latest Trump Twitter dust-up, members of the Congressional Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses rallied to Lewis’ defense with declarations that they would join him in a boycott of Trump’s inauguration. That movement has since spread throughout the House. Currently, four of Congress’ AAPI congressmen – including Reps. Mark Takano, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) chair Rep. Judy Chu – are participating in the boycott.
Rep. Lieu cited Trump’s history of “racist, sexist and bigoted” remarks as motivation for his decision to participate in the protest. “For me, the personal decision not to attend Inauguration is quite simple,” said Lieu. “Do I stand with Donald Trump, or do I stand with John Lewis? I am standing with John Lewis.”
Conservative Tree House expressed shock and outrage today from a video published to the internet of an (East Asian or East Asian American) woman who appears to take a surreptitious cellphone picture of Rex Tillerson’s notes during a break from his confirmation hearing for Secretary of State. The story was then soon picked up by the Gateway Pundit.
The two Far Right blogs that frequently serve as alternative sources for conservative news cited “Twitter folks” to identify the woman in the video as Doris Truong, former president of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and a current editor at the Washington Post. Indeed, spurred on by these headlines, Twitter’s Trump Trolls were quick to launch a torrent of hate Doris Truong’s way, tagging her with hundreds of tweets calling her “sneaky“, a “paid Clinton idiot“, a “bitch“, a “whore” and a “spy”. The racist and sexist hate has also called for Truong to be arrested and charged with espionage.
There’s a couple of problems with this. The first, of course, is that that woman is not Doris Truong.
Not all Asian women look alike. Let me say it one more time for the cheap seats: Not all Asian women look alike.
Over 900 Asian American Studies scholars from across the United States issued a joint statement today decrying President-Elect Donald Trump’s proposal to create a national registry of Muslims and Muslim Americans.
Trump has repeatedly said that as president he would institute aggressive measures to limit immigration of Muslims into the country and to place Muslims currently within the United States’ borders under close scrutiny. He has promised to halt the entry of Syrian refugees and to also ban immigration from a number of countries — including Pakistan and the Philippines — with large Muslim populations. He is quoted as suggesting the creation of a national database of Muslim and Muslim Americans — a proposal that is likely unconstitutional — and he staffed his White House transition team with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the architect of the highly controversial NSEERS registry system which was used to monitor the movement of Muslim immigrants under George W. Bush and the first half of the Obama administration.
Earlier this month, Trump surrogate Carl Higbie went on Fox News to defend Trump’s alarming proposals to register Muslims and Muslims Americans. In an appearance on The Kelly File, Higbie suggested that Trump’s proposal for a national Muslim registry has legal precedent: Japanese American incarceration during World War II (for a note on language, see JACL’s Power of Words handbook).
It should come as no surprise that Asian American Studies scholars have something to say about that dubious line of reasoning.
Former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who is the only member of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet to serve the full eight years of his two terms in office, has been selected by President-Elect Donald Trump to head the Department of Transportation in his upcoming administration.
Chao, who was the first Asian American woman to sit on a presidential Cabinet, previously served as Deputy Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Peace Corps under President George H.W. Bush.
Chao’s tenure as Labor Secretary was marked by her decidedly pro-business stance, leaving her frequently at odds with labour unions and workers’ rights groups. The Government Accountability Office reported in 2008 that the Labor Department inadequately investigated tens of thousands of complaints filed by workers alleging labour violations. In addition, the Department of Labor under Chao was repeatedly criticized for failing to conduct proper safety inspections to protect worker health, while redirecting resources towards stricter scrutiny of labour unions’ financial records. Nonetheless, Chao has remained a powerful player within the national Republican party even after leaving the position of Secretary of Labor, particularly as a close strategist and advisor to her husband of over twenty years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.