Instructor: Andrew Cleminshaw
Stop Asian Hate
Stop Asian Hate
Content Warning: contains descriptions of hate crimes, racism, and murder.
A Chinese woman set on fire. An elderly Thai immigrant shoved to the ground and killed. A 61-year-old Filipino man slashed cheek-to-cheek with a boxcutter.
More than 3800 other Asians and Asian-Americans facing verbal and physical assault in this past year alone.
The flames of racism against the Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community were stoked ever since COVID-19, or as the ex-president puts it, "Kung flu," spread across the globe. Ever since the pandemic began, hate speech and hate crimes towards Asians have surged significantly. A study conducted by the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign found that 1 in 4 Asian American young adults have been a target of racism ever since the onset of the pandemic. All of this despite the fact that 135 million Asian Americans have been born in the US. Or the fact that the Pew Research Center reports that 3 in 5 foreign-born Asian Americans are naturalized, or are American citizens (not that their citizenship status should matter).
Yet Asian Hate as an issue has slowly disappeared from major national newspapers: the most recent article from the Associated Press and US News was in early November, the New York Times and NPR news in October, the Washington Post in August, Reuters in May, and the Wall Street Journal in April. Thus, it becomes invaluable that we re-examine the issue of Asian Hate—its past, its more recent developments, and the importance of continuing action into the future.
Asian Hate in the Past
It's clear that despite being important members of communities, citizens, or even born in America, Asians and Asian Americans are thought of as "foreign." And it is precisely this "foreign-ness" that leads Asian-Americans to be scapegoated for unrelated issues—ever since the first major wave of Asian immigrants. Following the Opium Wars, the Gold Rush, and a 1852 crop failure in China, tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants came to the US in search for work and a better life. These immigrants often were relegated to undesirable jobs and worked for lower wages. Despite these setbacks, many of these immigrants flourished through entrepreneurship, hard work, and other distinctly American characteristics. A large portion of these workers even "laid down" an important cornerstone in American history that is rarely talked about: the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. Hilton Obenzinger, the associate director of the Stanford University Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project says that "Central Pacific Railroad director Charles Crocker recommended hiring Chinese workers after a job ad resulted in only a few hundred responses from white laborers, " and two years later, 90% of the workers were Chinese. To build the railroad, however, was no easy task. History.com writes that "they toiled through back-breaking labor during both frigid winters and blazing summers…[and] hundreds died from explosions, landslides, accidents and disease. "
What was their thanks? The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. The rationale? Because they blamed Chinese workers for declining wages and economic problems. Even though Chinese workers were .002 percent of the population.
The blaming of Asians and Asian Americans for unrelated problems isn't a one-off incident. The conception of Asian immigrants as "the Yellow Peril," or disease-ridden caricatures who would end the "American way of life," continued beyond the Chinese Exclusion Act. When young Japanese laborers began arriving in the US in the late 1880's, they, too, soon faced anti-Japanese legislation and violence— in 1907, Japanese immigration was severely restricted. South Asian Indian immigrants entered the US and later migrated to become farm laborers—exclusionists and white labor decried the migration as a "Hindu invasion". A worried Congress soon declared that the "tide of the Turbans" was outlawed and drastically curbed Indian immigration. Those who already immigrated didn't have it much better. The nonprofit organization Asia Society states that "all Asian immigrants… were fully excluded by law, denied citizenship and naturalization, and prevented from marrying Caucasians or owning land."
It's not just in the early stages of America that this perpetual alienation has happened. On February 19, 1942, FDR signed Executive Order No. 9066. The decree imprisoned all Japanese Americans on the West Coast in "Internment Camps," or glorified concentration camps, because Japan declared war on the US in WWII. Despite the fact that many of these Japanese Americans were 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants. Despite the fact that some of these Japanese Americans had never been to Japan or spoken Japanese.
In even more recent history, we all probably know of the tragedy of 9/11. And after 9/11, there was a much-less talked about tragedy.
Four days after 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi was planting flowers at the gas station he owned when Frank Roque shot and killed him. The day of the September 11th attacks, Frank Roque had reportedly told friends and a waitress at a local Applebees that he was "going to go out and shoot some towel-heads." Roque had thought Sodhi was Muslim; he was a Sikh.
Sodhi's murder was only the first in a wave of hate crimes and killings following the 9-11 attacks against Muslims and Sikhs, many of whom were born and raised in the US. 20 years later, the lives of Sikhs and Muslims are still drastically altered by 9/11-related hate crimes and discrimination.
The same conventions of ignorance about Asian people persist today. From the New York Times this year:
Security guards failed to intervene while a man kicked and stomped on a 65-year-old woman near Times Square, yelling, "You don't belong here."
So it's clear that Asian Hate is based in history. Then, you may wonder, what is being done about the issue?
On a national scale, President Biden condemned the surge in Asian hate crimes. Considering that Ex-President Trump never did that (and even fanned the flames with his rhetoric about the "China virus"), his stance is a step in the right direction. Famous American celebrities with Asian ancestry such as Chrissy Teigen, Lana Condor, and Jeremy Lin have all used their platforms to bring awareness to the issue. In Congress, Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, both integral members to the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), have introduced the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act that takes a first step to increase oversight and access to information regarding hate crimes against Asians. The act has since been signed into law.
However, while coverage of the issue has since died down, there remains a lot of work to be done. A recent poll from NPR news found that 1 in 4 Asian Americans still fear that their family members would be threatened or attacked due to their race or ethnicity. Asian hate crimes, though less publicized, continue to occur:
A 61-year-old Chinese woman attacked with a large rock and hospitalized.
A teenage girl beaten, stomped on, and called racist slurs on a train.
A 54-year-old Japanese woman hit with a bicycle.
It may seem surprising that hate crimes against Asian Americans still happen. After all, didn't Congress already pass a law against hate crimes? Didn't President Biden already change the racist rhetoric and tone of the previous President?
Unfortunately, the issue isn't that simple. In fact, as Columbia University law professor Katherine Franke explains, "enhancing criminal prosecutions of and requiring greater reporting on hate crimes are interventions that take place after bias incidents have [already] taken place." Instead, Franke says, "education, public messaging — particularly from elected officials — and other community-based programs aimed at reconciliation and repair are more likely to reduce the incidents of hate crimes."
It is precisely on this issue of education that the new law against Asian Hate fails. From the fact that Asian American history and culture remains largely untaught in the American classroom, Asian Americans continue to be designated as perpetual foreigners, not worth a single chapter in an American history textbook. Perhaps it is not surprising that these 22.9 million Americans are overlooked. Perhaps it is not surprising that NPR news finds that 42% of people in the U.S. can't name a single prominent Asian American.
Some progress has been made on this problem. Illinois became the first state to require Asian-American history in public schools through the passage of the The Teaching Equitable Asian American History (Teaach) Act. Teachers such as Liz Kleinrock of Washington D.C., Katie Li of Boston, and Andrew Cleminshaw of Cleveland have filled the gap in history curriculum themselves, striving to introduce their students to the Asian-American story and experience. However, the fact of the matter still remains that an organized, national addressing of this issue is largely missing.
Considering the continued occurrence of Asian Hate incidents, it remains up to individuals to either continue the slow process of change or organize to re-compel national action on the issue. Perhaps most importantly, at a time when Asian-Americans face threats of mental and physical violence, allies outside of the community become invaluable. It becomes important for those in positions of influence, whether it be teachers, managers, or congresspeople, to take it upon themselves to wield their influence in a constructive and continuous manner. Even those who do not fit in the aforementioned category can do their part to help. "You don't have to wear a cape or put your life at risk," says Connie Joe Chung, CEO of the legal aid group Asian Americans Advancing Justice. "There are smaller ways to get involved and make societal changes, and it would make a difference." So what are some ways you can get involved?
One key way that you can help with the underlying issue at no cost is to educate yourself. There are numerous resources on Asian American history, whether it be in the AAPI history tag on History.com, compiled information/resources from prestigious universities like Stanford and UCLA, and shows like Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act and PBS' Asian Americans. The goal of this self-education is to combat our own ignorance surrounding the plight of Asian Americans in America, to make sure we are not part of the problem.
Another way to help minimize the harm caused by these hate crimes is through bystander training. If individuals find themselves witness to a hate crime, it becomes incredibly important that they know how to respond in a manner helpful to the victim in the moment. This bystander training is available for free from organizations such as Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice; completing this training would make a whole world of difference if someone finds themself present at the scene of a hate crime.
Finally, yet another way to help out free-of-charge is through supporting political action against Asian Hate, especially in the realm of education. Besides the bill in Illinois that has since been integrated into law, there are numerous other pieces of state legislation mandating the teaching of Asian American history still in committee such as that of the New York Senate and the Connecticut General Assembly. On the national level, a similar bill introduced by Representative Grace Meng (H.R.2283) has had no progress in its process of becoming a law since the initial introduction. If there is to be substantive action on these issues, it is up to voters and activists to revive and campaign for the change they wish to see.
No matter what one does, it remains important that all play a role in fighting against Asian Hate. After all, as Viet Tran, former press secretary of Human Rights Campaign, eloquently puts it, "what is happening to Asian and Pacific Islanders across the country must stop — and we must be a part of stopping it."
Re: The Inaugural Conservative Affinity Group
Re: The Inaugural Conservative Affinity Group
Dear friends, students, faculty, and staff,
As we prepare to head off to Thanksgiving break, it's important that we ruminate over our privileges in life and remember to be grateful for what we have. We must remember that "gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others," as our first principal Dr. Marcus T. Cicero once said.
On the subject of this important precept, our esteemed institution has focused greatly over the past year on the awareness of our student body surrounding the systematic entrenchment of oppression and the importance of social justice. Therefore, after much mindful conversation and careful planning, our administration has recognized the necessity of an important initiative for some of the most oppressed within our community. We are pleased to announce the establishment of the new Conservative affinity group, a gathering space for this minority that we hope will provide a forum for dialogue and solidarity. While we as a school have focused on the creation of safe spaces and the inclusion of diverse perspectives, it's important that we acknowledge the drastic impact living in a predominantly liberal institution has on those in the Conservative minority. Yet despite these challenges, these strong, white men have persevered, all the whilst holding their firm beliefs steadfastly. As one Conservative individual we spoke with puts it, "being Conservative means that [libtards]... will call you r*cist or... a m*sogynist. The libtards say these things like… it's a bad thing… but we... can fight back and… reclaim these…[slurs]. Like, fuck yeah, I'm a r*cist…, I'm a m*sogynist[,] and I'm proud of who I am." Even more important for us to keep in mind is the importance of intersectionality for the members of this affinity group, who not only experience discimination for being Conservative but also for their Heterosexuality and Too High Socioeconomic Status— we must be cognizant of the fact that this minority has never experienced the privileges of a Straight Pride Month nor being broke. Through this new affinity group, we hope to create an invaluable space for these individuals, who have been continuously suppressed and silenced for who they are, an open and inclusive forum to express their hate towards minorities.
In addition to providing this safe space for those who are Conservative, we are in the process of rolling out changes to the curriculum in order to better include the Conservative perspective and story. Some material you can look forward to includes the Flat Earth Theory as a supplement to Newtonian Physics, an examination of the autism-causing properties of vaccines in our regular and honors biology courses (unfortunately, the AP curriculum is not as inclusive), and a shrine to our esteemed and rightful president Sir Donald J Trump. Outside of the classroom, we are not only sponsoring the launch of the first ever Conservative club, where all are welcome to learn about the rich and deep culture of the Conservative people, but also encouraging other extracurriculars to incorporate more opportunities to diversify their perspectives, such as utilizing in Speech and Debate sources like Breitbart and The Onion in addition to the less credible Washington Post.
An important point that we cannot stress enough is that our school does not tolerate harassment on the basis of race. Conservatives, too, are human beings who deserve our respect and love. Racial slurs and name-calling will not be tolerated and will result in immediate expulsion.
As always, thank you all for forming such a wonderful community of bright, engaged learners and contributors. We are thrilled to be lording over you and wish you the best in your academic endeavors. With gratitude in mind, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Break. Go Eagles!