Opinion

On June 3, Daily Bruin writer Kelly Yeo published an article titled, “Asian American activism on campus: an in-depth investigation,” in The Quad, a part of the Daily Bruin. What at first seemed like an exciting investigative report from a publication that rarely reports about our communities was actually a problematic personal narrative that failed to live up to its self reported “in-depth investigation” status.

There were many points we found inaccurate in Yeo’s report, such as the omission of South Asians from the term “AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander)” and her speculation that “long nights spent studying time-intensive science courses could be contributing to a lack of time or motivation in regards to political participation.” We won’t address all of them at this time, but here are 5 points we find most important to discuss immediately.

1. Yeo wrote this article with the intention of showing AAPIs as apolitical.

Yeo approached us through email in April to interview Pacific Ties staff members about AAPI activism, but managing staff made the decision not to provide her an opportunity to distort Pacific Ties’s mission. The managing team was aware of the hostile manner in which she conducted her interviews with sources from the Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) and Association of Chinese Americans (ACA). She asked loaded questions with the assumption that AAPI students were complacent within their organizations.

Yeo looked for information and quotes that confirmed her existing beliefs about AAPI student activism, instead of reporting from the ground up and challenging the assumptions she made about the community.

We suspect that Yeo drafted most of her article with “quotes to come,” which is a news reporting term referring to any quotes that a journalist hopes to get from a future interview.

We are also disappointed in the Daily Bruin editors responsible for considering the piece an “in-depth” report. Her claim that AAPIs at UCLA are apolitical is unfounded. Pacific Ties, the oldest AAPI* student-run newsmagazine in the nation, focuses on hyperlocal news coverage and analysis for the diverse AAPI communities on campus. We assign writers to cover as many campus events possible that include an intersectional perspective about AAPIs. Most of the events we cover are put on for and by politically conscious students. Recent Pacific Ties coverage include “Yellow Fever,” mixed identity, sexual assault awareness and media representation.

We ask that reporters do their research when they pursue a story. Do not erase the AAPI voice on campus and its hxstory. AAPIs have historically organized and continue to fight for social justice, ranging from labor issues to immigration. Back in February, Pacific Ties wrote an editorial about the Peter Liang conviction, condemning the officer’s actions in taking Akai Gurley’s life as an example of police brutality. Yeo and others who think that AAPIs are apolitical should look deeper to find these counternarratives.

We don’t claim to be experts on the countless number of cultures that make up the AAPI community, but we are willing to listen to them to capture their stories — as should Yeo.

Our duty as journalists requires us to gain knowledge in the particular community conditions that each community faces within the AAPI umbrella. Our publication aims to build rapport with the AAPI community on campus so we can provide accurate coverage of AAPI students’ lived experiences, especially when the mainstream media and the K-12 educational system have already brushed off and forgotten them. Pacific Ties aims to increase community engagement, provide resources, and construct a collective consciousness of what it means to be AAPI. Yeo should have made an genuine effort to engage with the AAPI community before attempting to write about the AAPI community with such confident assumptions.

2. Yeo distorts quotes from people and misconstrues what AAPI campus groups do.

Yeo’s use of personal opinion as an overarching framework is flawed, particularly in her intentional misrepresentation of UCLA’s Asian Pacific Coalition (APC). The article states that “APC, founded in 1971, was initially created in order to address underrepresentation of East Asians on campus, according to APC directors [Priscilla] Hoang and [Jeffrey] Hsu.” This statement is not true, nor has it ever been. APC, founded in 1975, formed to combat general AAPI issues as a whole, not only East Asian issues. It is a pan-Asian coalition, consisting of 24 student organizations that showcases UCLA’s AAPI diversity. APC is part of the Mother Organization (MO) Coalition, a partnership amongst nine student groups that emerged to address UCLA’s disparate minority admit and retention rates.

In APC’s interview, Hoang and Hsu acknowledged the formation of separate Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander MO’s (the Vietnamese Student Union, Pacific Islands’ Student Association, and Samahang Pilipinx, respectively) in recognition of the unique barriers these communities face, even though they fall under the AAPI umbrella.

Yeo misconstrues this remark, perhaps understanding the remainder of APC as exclusively East Asian after hearing about the three distinctive organizations. This deduction effectively dismisses all other groups in the coalition, erasing South Asians, people of mixed heritage, and non-AAPIs working on AAPI issues from the conversation.

She claims, “The reality is that many of UCLA’s AAPI cultural organizations today simply have lost touch with their politicized roots. From dance teams to organizing and acting in cultural nights, these groups have shifted their focus from having their voices heard on sociopolitical issues to becoming a means for AAPI students to socialize around a shared culture.”

She makes no mention of all the other activism these identity-based student groups do. Many student organizations have multiple pillars of focus. An example is Vietnamese Student Union (VSU). In addition to culture nights and dance teams (which also are used for activism), VSU established Southeast Asian Campus Learning Education and Retention (SEA CLEAR) to provide services for the Southeast Asians community: mentorship pairs, workshops focusing on mental health and wellness, empowering internships, and much more. Similarly, Samahang Pilipinx (SP) has programs called Samahang Pilipinx Education and Retention (SPEAR) and Samahang Pilipinx Advancing Community Empowerment (SPACE) to increase Pilipinx graduation/retention and matriculation rates. SP also organizes community building activities such as annual marches advocating for “Justice for Pilipinx American Veterans,” and “Grassroots Wednesdays,” showing the various forms of activism that exists within their community.

3. Yeo has a skewed understanding of activism.

Social justice is not uniform across time and space, nor should it be. Everything can be political. Public marches and self-care is political. Inaction and adherence to the status quo is political. Social justice work fights for liberation from oppression and systems of inequality. It is also a continually changing process one should learn and grow from.

Yeo clearly does not understand this concept, evident in her juxtaposition of AAPI activism with other communities of color.

She claims that AAPI’s “take the path of least resistance” and that it “may be the best we can hope for” in contrast to “direct action.” Her conclusion is highly problematic because it privileges direct action over other forms of activism, suggesting that there is a “right” way to be political. This disregards the millions of people who work to combat oppression conditions that persist in everyday life.

AAPIs are politically involved across the spectrum, from “direct action” to “soft activism,” which does not have to be in competition with one another. The idea of direct action as more valuable than more subtle forms of resistance is both ableist and classist — not everyone has the ability to protest at a rally, or the privilege of delaying personal responsibilities to do so. In an interview with Pacific Ties, former director of APC and current Campus Retention Chairperson Jazz Kiang explained, “A purposeful decision or moment can be activism. A person who decides to become a peer counselor at the retention center is an activist because they’re doing something to benefit the community. For someone who is working two jobs so they can afford their tuition, that’s being an activist because they see their importance of being at an institution of higher learning. Being here is already a political statement.”

In addition, it is harmful to pit communities of color against each other. All people of color face discrimination that our non-POC counterparts do not face, with discrimination that is specific to certain communities of color. This is not to say that multiracial coalitions are always in harmony, but there must be solidarity between communities in order combat these issues.

And so what if an AAPI student group has a dance team and a culture show? Preserving, sharing, and finding solidarity through culture is political too.

Pacific Ties believes in documenting AAPI student organizations’ culture nights so the next generation of AAPI student activists know that we care about our communities. Yeo acknowledges that AAPI student-led culture nights are “a form of political action,” but she denies them as a form of legitimate activism.

Culture nights honor hxstory, depicting people’s lives and struggles through lenses of immigration and war. They also look at issues such as violence against women, the visibility and acceptance or lack thereof of LGBTQ+ individuals within specific cultures, the impact of religion and tradition on modern beliefs, etc. At this year’s Samahang Pilipino Culture Night, for example, a traditional dance about the creation myth immediately followed a scene in which the father, a character in the play, proclaims that “love is between a man and a woman.”

Culture nights examine these issues and offer a solution through healing. They are a safe space. Each story that is staged at a culture night has a resolution, promotes acceptance of different identities, and ends with a hopeful look toward the future.

The prominent message that we should accept ourselves and our cultural identity is political and a form of activism. When we accept our identities, we choose to confront oppressive power structures from both outside and within our own communities.

Combating systemic racism doesn’t have to come in the form of an obvious message or protest at culture nights because the celebration and validation of our cultures reminds us that the stereotypes about our cultures and communities are not true.

These cultural nights remind us that we deserve to be seen and heard. They remind us that the dominant narrative isn’t the only one that exists, and that we don’t have to fit ourselves in to feel accepted.

Culture nights are a form of nonviolent activism in which we invite people to learn about our customs — our food, music, and dances — as well as our experiences. But at the same time, we are also educating ourselves about what it means to be part of an AAPI community and how we can best represent our cultures in the years to come.

Students who join these cultural organizations do so to further understand their identity. Whether they join in hopes to learn more about their identity, hxstory, and culture, it is a space that gives them a chance to connect with other students who wish do the same.

This in itself is an act of resistance. Students reclaim their own identity by learning from one another’s shared experiences and stories collectively. As the feminist phrase states, “the personal is political,” meaning that reflecting on one’s own experiences and understanding how it intersects with the broader structures of oppression is a form of raising consciousness. This collectively-enabled consciousness enables theses communities and organizations to work and find solutions and heal from these issues.

4. Yeo erases the work of student activists.

Yeo argues that affirmative action was the only factor in raising AAPI enrollment rates and disregards the role of groups like APC. She says,

“As they readily admit, APC’s efforts had little to do with the demographic shift. The changing demographics of California, the increase in admissions standards, and ultimately, the abolishment of affirmative action through California Proposition 209 helped create the admissions environment that has lead to Asian and Pacific Islanders being the largest demographic category on campus at 33.5 percent, compared to nationally hovering around 5 percent and 13.5 percent in California, if Pacific Islanders are excluded.”

First, the data Yeo presents about AAPI student admissions post-Proposition 209 need to be disaggregated. Unlike what Yeo suggested, AAPI underrepresentation in higher education is still an issue, especially in Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander communities. But it is not noticeable when AAPI students are counted as a monolithic racial category. We need to consider how specific AAPI communities face inequities in education.

Second, APC has played an important role in the demographic shift. While APC does not dispute the importance of affirmative action, and has historically supported affirmative action throughout the years, campus-level activism should not be undermined. The MOs have achieved incredible success in carving out spaces for students neglected by the university, namely through programmatic efforts and the Community Programs Office (CPO)’s successful access and retention programs. The access and retention programs provide targeted outreach and retention services to disadvantaged communities at UCLA and beyond. They continue to maintain their legacy of minority student achievement, especially after the passage of California’s Prop 209. The prohibition on affirmative action makes these programs even more important for minority access to higher education by providing students with crucial resources to challenge institutional obstacles.

APC continually affirms its accomplishments in setting up the foundations of AAPI student success. Collaborative efforts amongst the MO’s have resulted in the creation of the Student Activities Center and Community Programs Office, the restructuring of the John Wooden Center, and most recently, the passage of the Social Justice Referendum that will fund culturally competent resources targeting marginalized students. APC’s efforts in institutionalizing student-led and student-initiated programs is critical to the increase in minority student enrollment from underserved communities. This is telltale from the wildly successful YIELD events at UCLA.

APC’s role as organizers for student resources is critical to rises in AAPI enrollment, and its successes should be properly noted. Although the organization’s original concerns regarding AAPI enrollment has evolved and changed over time, this does not, nor should it negate the decades of AAPI activism aiding UCLA in its efforts for social justice.

Yeo’s denial of APC’s role in AAPI enrollment is only the tip of the iceberg. Yeo actively ignores many AAPI groups in both her research and analyses. She neglects organizations like Pacific Islands’ Student Association (PISA), Mixed Student Union (MSU), Indus, and many others. Despite her definition of the term “Asian American” and confessed pitfalls in South Asian inclusiveness at the beginning of her investigation, Yeo does not challenge her shortfalls, and skirts the issue. Yet, she seeks to answer the question, “why are AAPI’s so apolitical?” with no real intention of pursuing a comprehensive review.

5. Yeo’s article is part of the problem, not the solution.

Yeo’s article perpetuates the idea of AAPI apathy by downplaying and erasing the work of AAPI student groups.

Yeo’s irresponsible and biased “investigation” does not properly represent the state of AAPI activism at UCLA and the rich history of AAPI activism as a whole. Her lazy reporting results in a limited understanding of the very issues she wants to explore, and does not accurately represent the many narratives that exist. Broad, overarching statements that erase the complexity of student activism fail to adequately serve as a framework for her argument.

Yeo cannot gain a thorough acumen of AAPI activism from a handful of interviews, nor should she conflate UCLA’s AAPI activism with AAPI activism as a whole. Misinterpretation of politically loaded issues that accompany conversations of AAPI apathy is a crucial weakness that renders her research useless.

Although it is important for Yeo to reflect on her personal experiences at UCLA, she cannot conflate them as factual claims and use them as a foundation for research. Yeo’s gross generalizations rob her readers of a comprehensive understanding of AAPI activism.

Congratulations, Kelly. You played yourself.

Note: The Asian Pacific Coalition contributed to the editorial.

If you are an AAPI student group and would like to use Pacific Ties as a space to publish a response to Yeo’s article, please email [email protected].

*Although Pacific Ties uses the term APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) to describe our communities, we decided to refer to our communities as AAPI to be consistent with Yeo’s article. Both terms refer to the same communities.

In January 2015, Variety reported that Scarlett Johansson had agreed to star in the Hollywood adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, a Japanese media franchise that originated as a manga in 1989 by creator Masamune Shirow. Following the attachment of Johansson in Ghost in the Shell, a campaign launched to petition her casting, calling DreamWorks to stop whitewashing Asian characters.

Whitewashing in film is when white actors are cast in non-white roles. By no means is this casting practice new. Arthur Dong’s documentary Hollywood Chinese: The Chinese in American Feature Films (2007) revisits several instances in the past in which non-Asian actors have played Asian characters, such as Christopher Lee in the role of Fu Manchu. While these historical examples are more reflective of gross caricature and overt yellow face, modern whitewashing seems to work by downplaying or even erasing the specific ethnic or racial identities and backgrounds of characters “under the assumption that white characters have the widest appeal” (Huffington Post).

On April 14, 2016, Paramount’s release of a still from Ghost in the Shell revived criticisms of Hollywood whitewashing when it cast Scarlett Johansson as the lead for the Japanese franchise, Major Motoko Kusanagi. Further, on April 15, 2016, Esquire published an online article claiming that the film’s producers attempted to make non-Asian actors, even possibly Johansson, look more Asian through visual effects.

Although the whitewashing of Major Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell is just another example of the misrepresentation that Hollywood studios believe is risk-averse and helps insure box office profit, the possible visual altering of the white actors to look more Asian is insensitive and insulting.

To the producers of this hot mess:

Instead of recognizing that whitewashing is problematic in erasing the intersections of the character’s identity, and instead of recognizing that whitewashing is discriminatory in excluding Asian and Asian American actors that are underrepresented in Hollywood from the role, you go ahead and try to make people that aren’t ethnically Asian look Asian? With technology? For a media franchise that’s set in a futuristic Japan? I can’t. You’re already replacing our people that aren’t even our people because they’re probably played by white people. And then, you’re using special effects to pretend that they’re our people? Rude.

First the racist Asian jokes at the Oscars and now this? Hollywood, get it together.

Sincerely,

em-oar-eeee

 

  1. Myth: Muslim women are being forced to wear hijab by their husbands or fathers.
    Fact: It’s entirely their choice, some choose to wear hijab and others don’t. Islam, like any religion, can be interpreted and practiced as strictly and as loosely as individuals want to. Women choose to wear a hijab to feel empowered, not oppressed. Many women choose not to wear the hijab, yet are still considered practicing Muslims.

HIJAB       Additionally, women wear hijab because they feel strongly connected to the religion and feel as it is a part of their identity.HIJAB2       The hijab is a form of self-expression and devotion to one’s faith, not a symbolism of oppression.

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  1. Myth: Jihad means a violent, religious war
    Fact: Jihad is often translated to “holy war” but more linguistically it means struggling, surviving, or effort. The term jihad is thrown around loosely in American media today, using it as a buzzword to incite oppressive thoughts against Islam. Jihad in the Quran is used in the context of “striving with one’s self and one’s money in the cause of God.” Also stated in the Quran are several verses prohibiting fighting, killing, and forced compulsion of religion. With these verses explicitly stated, extremists have chosen to ignore the Quran and holy book they claim to fight for and instead, pursue the opposite.

 

  1. Myth: All Arabs are Muslim
    Fact: Muslims come from all different parts of the world and from many different ethnic backgrounds and countries. The countries with the top five largest Muslim populations worldwide are all non-Arab countries. Indonesia is ranked number 1 with roughly 205 million Muslims, Pakistan next with 178 million, India with 177 million, Bangladesh with 148 million, and Nigeria with 78 million. With these statistics, Islam is more an Asian religion if anything than an Arab one.Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.30.56 PM
  1. Myth: Muslim women have no say in who they marry
    Fact: In Islam, a couple, both parties, must mutually consent to the marriage. This requires a clear proposal and acceptance in the presence of a legal guardian or family member from the woman’s side. The Quran explicitly gives women a extensive role in choosing their own husbands. Women’s consent in a marriage is extremely important and is not forced. Many women choose to have an arranged marriage in which their families are more involved in the process of finding a suitable partner. Arranged marriages are a wonderful process because it becomes a partnership not just between two people but between two families.

 

  1. Myth: All Muslims Speak Arabic
    Fact: No they do not. Muslims, because they come from such diverse backgrounds, speak many different languages found all over the world. There are more Muslims who speak Indonesian, Urdu, and Chinese dialects than those who speak Arabic. Muslims are however encouraged to learn Arabic as it is the language of their holy book, the Quran. Just as not all Muslims speak Arabic, not all those who speak Arabic are Muslim.Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.26.31 PM

“What are you doing? There’s no milk in your chai!” exclaimed my grandmother.

I gave my mother a puzzling look across the dining table because I didn’t know why my grandmother was so worried.

I was simply trying to make tea for myself and my mother one afternoon, when my grandmother came into the kitchen and started panicking about my tea.

My mother later told me that in Pakistan, there’s a superstition that the less milk you put in your tea—the darker your tea is—the darker your skin will become.

The ridiculousness of that statement made me roll my eyes and give my mother an irritated look.

The desire to be fair-skinned is arguably a desire that spans across many cultures and countries, but why?

One reason can be found dating back from British imperial rule on India, and their culture being largely adopted by India. The stigma toward those with darker skin roots back in the early caste system.

Asian cultures, such as Indian, Pakistani, Vietnamese and Filipino, value lighter skin tone because of the European values that were enforced by their respective colonizers.

The idea of casteism is directly related to colorism, which is racialized thinking that those of darker skin are lesser individuals, typically found within ethnic groups.

Colorism varies for Asian Americans because different ethnic groups were colonized by different countries, but ultimately dark skin tone is associated with poverty for many Asian immigrants and Asian Americans.

The most direct connection with skin color and social status is found in the idea that wealthy people can spend their time indoors compared to the working class, who spend their time outdoors due to labor work.

The Indian mass media also perpetuates a stigma against having dark skin, that those with fairer skin are considered to be better.

The Miss World-India and Miss World competition is highly publicized in India and past winners from India have more often than not been lighter than average with blue-green eyes. Many would argue that these winners have not accurately represented Indian women across the board.

There are stories of young women in India and the United States who are concerned that if they get tanner they won’t get a good marital match, or won’t look good at an upcoming event or wedding. Sadly, the stress these women put on themselves only reflect the reality that light skin creates a symbolic wealth in the search for a spouse.

You find these same women applying Fair and Lovely, a lotion brand that claims it will treat your “skin fairness problem.”

Photo by Adam Jones via Flickr
Photo by Adam Jones via Flickr

(Photo above by Adam Jones via Flickr)

It’s not just South Asian women hoping to get fairer skin. East Asian women are also battling their own cultural stigma of having to be thin and pale. The cultural standard for fair skin sets up the population for failure as a majority of them don’t meet that standard.

There is no problem with women having dark skin. This isn’t to say we should be shaming women who do choose to apply the lotion. But we should address this worldwide stigma.

Women are beautiful no matter what skin tone they have.

Women should not feel the need to apply Fair and Lovely, which is a product that unfairly targets women who have internalized the idea that their worth is based on their skin tone.

South Asian women find themselves living in a society filled with old school thoughts where, “if you’re light, you’re alright.”

Many also find themselves in the North versus South Indian battle. South Indians are told they have a darker skin tone. They are told that makes them unappealing.

Women with darker skin do not find success in Bollywood. The industry is dominated by fair-skinned women.

Three friends from the University of Texas launched a social media movement so women could post pictures of themselves appreciating and loving their dark skin.

Women of all ethnicities starting using the hashtag, #UNFAIRANDLOVELY, to celebrate their darker skin tones.

Growing up, I found my family friends and relatives saying things like, “oh, your face is so fair and clear, you must be staying indoors a lot.” It was said to me as if having fair skin was the ultimate goal for a South Asian woman.

Those same people turned their appreciation into shock when I got five shades darker after I joined the swim team in high school. I spent most of my afternoons swimming for hours under the San Diego sun and became extremely tan that spring. Definitely not goals right? Wrong.

Brown is beautiful. It’s imperative to rid this beauty standard we impose on women.

Let’s quit using Fair and Lovely. Stay unfair.

Recently at San Francisco State University, the faculty, students, and alumni of the College of Ethnic Studies held a mass protest on the inadequate funding that has been detrimentally affecting their department.

With the recent discussion concerning the department’s funding, the importance of ethnic studies once again comes into question.

This is not the first time members of the college campus protested on the issue of an inclusive representation for different ethnic communities in higher education.

From November 6, 1968 to March 20, 1969, the UCSF Black Student Union and Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) led a five month strike with students, faculty, and other members of SFSU fighting for representation in academia. They rallied together, shouting “On strike! Shut it down!” while conducting massive teach-ins and picketing to inform the community of the ongoing strike and lack of inclusion.

As a student of color, taking an ethnic studies course related to Asian American studies at UCLA helped strengthen my connection with my grandparents and parents.

Not only am I able to learn about Asian American experiences and histories in class, but I am also able to tie them back to the experiences of my family.

My family’s migration from Vietnam to the Philippines and finally to the United States was not by choice, but by force. Eventually, they had to adopt America as their new home and learn to assimilate in order to become “more American,” when the result of their migration was based off of the daunting ramifications of war.

The UCLA Asian American studies department has also encountered issues with lack of funding.

The Hawai’i study abroad program that was set to happen this summer has been recently cancelled due to lack of funding.Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 10.55.28 PMThe program itself has given past students under the Asian American studies department a chance to learn the history and invisible truth of Hawai’i, especially when it is constantly advertised as the go-to place for paradise.

With commercialized images of Hawai’i as the ideal vacation site to relax and get away, it is hard to see Hawai’i as a place that has been colonized for years, having their indigenous roots eradicated by colonizers and culture molded into numerous advertisements for large corporations to sell to tourists.

Students of color attend universities in order to gain knowledge and education, and in a space that is predominantly white, it can be difficult for students of color to find a space where they can address, share, and understand their struggles as a community.

Not only do ethnic studies courses enable historical consciousness, but it also helps build solidarity between different ethnic communities since our histories have been affected by the history of xenophobic acts in the US.

Students in ethnic studies courses have the opportunity to think critically about different ethnic histories and experiences that are often mentioned as one-liners in K-12 history textbooks.

These histories and experiences–whether academic or oral–should always be acknowledged.

Defunding the department of ethnic studies will erase the history and experiences of different ethnic groups who continue to face systematic oppression.

It robs people of color of their own identities and denies the experiences of people of color.

Let it be a reminder that the SFSU ethnic studies department faculty, students, and alumni’s current protests and outcries on the lack of funding in the College of Ethnic Studies highlight the importance of including marginalized communities in higher education. Their experiences and past histories are valid and shouldn’t be silenced.

(Photo above by Tina Leggio via Flickr Creative Commons)

Police officer Peter Liang’s recent conviction for second degree manslaughter sparked the protest of thousands of Chinese Americans in Brooklyn Sunday.

But Liang’s actions were reckless and therefore justly convicted. The protesters see Peter as a “scapegoat” for quelling the anger of communities that are dissatisfied with police brutality.

But this only perpetuates white supremacy, which allows the justice system to dehumanize black lives.

Even though Liang is a rookie cop, he should be accountable for his actions as a trained law enforcement officer.

Liang wrongfully shot Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man, who was walking with his girlfriend in the stairwell of a housing project.

Afterwards, Liang failed to call for emergency medical services immediately after Gurley suffered from a severe gunshot wound.

A police officer’s job is to save lives, not to take them.

Protesters held signs that read, “One Tragedy, Two Victims,” suggesting that Liang is also a victim of racial bias because the justice system did not fairly convict white officers who killed unarmed black people.

The Chinese American Liang is the first NYPD officer in over a decade to be convicted for such crimes.  

But to argue that Liang is unjustly convicted because the justice system is lenient toward white officers overlooks the fact that Liang directly caused someone’s death.  

The only victim in this case is the person who died. It is crucial to acknowledge that the death of Akai Gurley is not an isolated incident, but it is rather an example of police brutality.

A Chinese American woman said that the protesters are not asking for white privilege and are deeply sorry for the Gurley family during the protest, according to Fusion.

Yet, it sounds like the protesters want Liang to be afforded the same privileges that are given to white officers when they demand so-called “justice for Peter Liang.”

One way for Asian Americans to assimilate into the dominant culture of whiteness is to actively participate in systems that oppress other marginalized groups.

Protesting Liang’s conviction, at the expense of Akai Gurley’s life, perpetuates the idea that some lives are worth more than others.

That sends the message that an Asian American’s life is worth more than a Black American’s life, in the same way that white supremacy holds that white lives are more valuable than the lives of people of color.

The superficial sympathy expressed by the woman in the Fusion video, in which she claims that Asian Americans are deeply sorry for the Gurley family, doesn’t cut it.

We, as part of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) communities, have to remember that injustices have occurred in the black community.

We must also look within our communities to address anti-blackness because it is deeply entrenched in our culture.

There are members of our community that are anti-black because Asian Americans have been presented as the “model minority” to other oppressed groups, such as the black community, in order to prove that individuals in the US can be successful if they just worked hard enough.

Although the model minority myth is posed as a positive stereotype, it is harmful. The myth continues to divide communities of color, which prevents coalition-building to fight against systemic oppression.

We must remember the legacy of APIDA activists, such as Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs, who supported the black power movement. They worked alongside black activists such as Malcolm X and James Boggs, respectively.

Without the Civil Rights movement, there would be no Immigration Act of 1965, which allowed many Asian Americans and others to immigrate to the US.

Before that, Asians were excluded from migrating to the US because of xenophobic views and the racist perception that Asians were too culturally different.

It is our responsibility as allies, as people of color, to fight for justice when injustices occur in other marginalized communities.

To be in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the first step is to look internally by addressing antiblackness in the APIDA communities.

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