Update: What I Had Been Doing Since Spring 2020, Part I – Raising Awareness of Anti-Asian Racism

I know it has been sometime since I have posted in my blog, especially with the advent of COVID-19 pandemic. For that, I can only apologize for anyone who has followed me and looked forward to some of my projects.

What I do not apologize for is the long-needed self-care.

This long delay in updating does not mean I am not engaged in anything. I do not always advertise what I do because I know compulsions to do this leads to the issue of virtue signaling mixed with some of the persistent problems commonplace on social media. Such as optical allyship via sharing for the sake of it. Through only posting when it will count, I am hoping to make a better impact.

While my time playing roleplaying games has increased as a means to keep my creativity going while my depression kicked in, I kept and still keep an eye out for opportunities to get involved in the limited capacity I can. To that end, I will say what I have been doing before I make a separate post addressing the issue surrounding noninvolvement in BIPOC affairs by the progressive left on other affronts.

When I address this, I will be speaking as someone who identifies as progressive left, ethnically-ambigious/passing multiracial White-Southeast Asian who is cisgendered LGBTQIA+ and mostly able-bodied physically while struggling with mental illness. I also have no intention to downplay my privilege of living in the United States. While I welcome everyone to read my blog, my criticisms of systems focuses on critique of Western imperialism regardless of who is perpetuating it and the ideas surrounding. It is not my place to speak for and ridicule non-Euro American culture(s).

First on the list of things of what I had been up to is: raising awareness of anti-Asian racism and its history in the United States, debunking the myth of the Model Minority on campus.

Raising Awareness of Anti-Asian Racism and its History in the United States, Debunking the Myth of the Model Minority

One blessing I can say is I had been grateful to work on my very first work related Zoom event with an Asian-Pacific American organization who advocates for the rights of Asian-Pacific Islander peoples (API) in the United States on all fronts. Education, criminal justice, better immigration to citizenship opportunities – you name it. We wanted to discuss the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on API peoples, the increased xenophobia surrounding, and the Model Minority Myth’s role in it all. On board with our Zoom event was the time and labor of two professors, one who was a multiracial White-Asian such as myself and another who presented as an European immigrant who used her experiences immigrating to center API immigrants and their struggles.

It was perfect timing because around the time, COVID-19 was just becoming a problem in the United States and we already had plans to address it in our conversations facilitated to help raise awareness of racial injustices. Anti-Asian discrimination was and is still real, whether people realize it or not. A discrimination that not only affects East Asian people, but also Southeast Asian and South Asian people. All the while, it exemplifies how self-destructive White Supremacy really is.

Such has happened before historically with racist “Yellow Peril” propaganda leading to the maltreatment of the first waves of migration from East Asia along with exclusion of South Asian immigrants.

Back then, no API person was known as a “model minority.” Kat Chow with NPR’s Codeswitch discusses the research that shows how the “model minority” idea had been used to drive a wedge between Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, particularly Black and API communities. The elevation of a minoritized group as a way to divide oppressed peoples and encourage assimilation has been going on for some time in White America with one group or another. When Chinese immigrants faced racial discrimination, a number of Irish immigrants – one of the newly inducted into modern-day Whiteness – were capable of passing as White, reducing the amount of racial oppression they faced. What this meant was these Irish immigrants who could pass were pushed to assimilate into Whiteness, eventually leading to the “Whitening” of the population in time.

It is worth noting around this time, there were also Hispanic and North African, Middle Eastern immigrants who were considered White (not the same as passing; it is a spectrum).  Islamophobia did not carry the same weight of influence on racist systems as it has grown to in the past decades. Some groups assimilated into Whiteness while the system began to exclude others to keep race-based systems of oppression going. At the very center of this power are White Anglo-Saxon Protestant cisgender men in Northern European and American spaces, Black LGBTQIA+ womxn – especially Muslim – on the edge of the margins. With increased Islamophobia according to Junaid Rana also comes the conflation of different nationalities, ethnicities, and religions into the image of what is the racialized “Muslim.” An image that instills fear in many Americans to this day.  

In kind, when the “Model Minority Myth” became perpetuated and divided Black and API groups, API peoples became more in proximity to Whiteness at the expense of Blackness. I will put myself on the spot: the same system that does this also puts me adjacent to Whiteness compared to my Southeast Asian and some of my East Asian relatives. The myth does nothing more than adds pressure to assimilate at the expense of not only one’s ethnic identity, but also humanity and family – whether blood family or our human family.

And, it does nothing to save anyone when the system decides to turn on them.

Part of the discussion of this Zoom meeting was educating a mostly White college student audience on the long-term damage of both the Model Minority Myth to the peoples considered the subject thereof and also to everyone else. By linking the myth to the reality of COVID-19, we showed how racist ideas of API peoples were nothing new in the American intelligentsia. What became different from the past decades to the present was the expressions of the racism, amplified with the distress from COVID-19 – and people in power enabling and emboldening it. We also discussed what we could do in these situations, and sometimes we were left with no clean-cut answers, but with the hope that increased awareness more people would show solidarity with BIPOC in both the United States and worldwide. And likely stumble on the way, be called in (or out as needed) on it, and learn how to do better for it.

Anyone who does not see any of these issues, or might disagree with my view point, please understand. Whiteness is not solely about skin color or whether someone is identified or labeled as White; it is about an attitude, to paraphrase James Baldwin. White Supremacy also will not spare anyone except at best, short term. Just as some have become accepted into Whiteness, others have once enjoyed a place in it and become excluded. There is always a chance of a group becoming minoritized (or again for the formerly minoritized).

Needless to say, for the Zoom meeting, everyone kept discussions respectful and in good faith, and our panel took positively to feedback from BIPOC who pointed out the complicity of everyone in upholding these systems. I felt very blessed to be part of this opportunity. At first I was nervous for I never had to co-facilitate with an external organization before, but I was better for it. We had some technological glitches, I was not the best on Zoom camera this time, but I am better for it and am getting more comfortable using Zoom more often now.

I will further update on additional things I have done since Spring 2020 soon!


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