As AAPI Heritage Month comes to an end, we reflect on the tragedies of the past year and the surge of anti-Asian violence and racism that many Americans have faced.
At the same time, we celebrate Asian American pride and Asian American joy. We acknowledge the collective and diverse Asian American experience. We commemorate all the different ways we identify as Asian American.
Throughout the past semester, APALSA has put on a number of events to educate and engage the community in these discussions, here at BC Law and beyond. Some highlights include a book giveaway for BC Law students, a Minari movie watch party, the Instagram Story Project (which can still be found on @bc_apalsa), and America’s Anti-Asian Racism: Looking Back and Moving Forward — a joint collaboration event with Boston University APALSA featuring panelists Dr. Sherry Wang and Professor Andrew Leong.
This past month, APALSA has been working on another collaboration event. BC Law’s Just Law podcast invited APALSA to be featured in one of their episodes, and some members share their stories and provide insight on what it’s like to be an Asian person in America. In this episode, they address their personal experiences with the Model Minority Myth, the notion of the Perpetual Foreigner, and struggles with self-identity and sense of belonging. They discuss Asian American empowerment, cultural barriers and cultural reconciliation, and the various ways that racial trauma has been embedded in their lives and in our society.
In their conversation, they find that many of their experiences have been similar, and they can find a sense of camaraderie and validity in their lived experiences. However, they also find differences in their lived experiences and viewpoints — a testament to the multifaceted nature of Asian American identity, and dispelling the notion that Asian Americans are a monolith. Just Law and APALSA invite the BC Law community to tune in on this episode as they create space for an open and honest conversation highlighting the challenges and experiences that are uniquely Asian American.
You can listen to the podcast below. A video Zoom recording of the episode can also be found at the bottom of this post.
Podcast co-hosts Joann Plaisir and Tom Blakely are back together in studio to talk about returning to campus, the On-Campus Interview (OCI) process, and how to adjust to the new normal. Bonus feature: a very special call-in guest!
Finally, BC Law has been working with the Yellow Whistle Project this past month to distribute yellow whistles to members of our community. The Project’s mission statement is as follows:
“In nature, yellow is the color of daffodils and sunflowers, signaling the advent of spring, bringing hope, optimism, and enlightenment. In America, yellow has been weaponized against Asians as the color of xenophobia. The Yellow Whistle™ is a symbol of self-protection and solidarity in our common fight against historical discrimination and anti-Asian violence. The whistle is a simple gadget with a universal purpose — to signal alarm and call for help — for all Americans. We shall not remain silent, because we belong.”
A shipment of one hundred and fifty whistles have arrived at BC Law and will be distributed on campus (distribution details to follow). Members of our community are encouraged to pick up a whistle to show support in our collective fight against anti-Asian hate and to stand in solidarity with the Asian American community, as members of our community have so done during these past few months.
AAPI Heritage Month may be over, but this conversation is not. Anti-Asian violence is not. Our efforts to continue striving to be anti-racist cannot be over. We are still learning — all of us. We continue to expand our understanding and knowledge. We check our own privileges and biases. We reflect on our own complicity to racist systems and recognize the ways in which we uphold white supremacy. We show each other compassion as we learn and unlearn.
We celebrate being Asian American. We delight in it. We take pride in it.
Rosa Kim is a rising third-year law student at BC Law. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Sometimes I wonder if the Asian American experience is what it’s like when you’re thinking about everyone else, but no one is thinking about you.”
Let’s talk about this past week and the hate crimes perpetrated against Asian Americans the last few days in Oakland Let’s talk about this past year and our past period in American history This neglected narrative This invisible experience
While the country does its annual round of capitalizing off of Lunar New Year this weekend, I think about the Asian Americans who will spend what is supposed to be one of the most festive and important holidays in their culture cowering instead of celebrating Let me tell you about the attacks that have been happening because you won’t find them headlining on national news A conversation that is long overdue
An 84 year old Thai man was attacked in bright daylight and died from his injuries Vicha Ratanapakdee Say his name and pronounce all. of. it.
Numerous robberies and assaults in Oakland’s Chinatown A 91 year old man was pushed down It was like watching my own grandfather get slammed into the pavement Look up the video on your own if you want to see it but I refuse to circulate Trauma Porn – my trauma, your porn Non-POC: You cannot fathom how personally traumatizing it is to watch these videos
Faces slashed, grandmothers set on fire The sheer volume of violence is staggering I’m having a hard time grappling with this inhumanity against our elderly Our elders Who are revered and respected in our culture in a way unlike the culture of this country Who rose from the ruins of a broken nation seeking solace Searching for a better life in the Land of Opportunity that only knew them by the word Foreigner
In the wake of these assaults there is one word that comes to mind A word that has been grinded and conditioned into the Asian American experience: Invisible Anti-Asian sentiment since the beginning of this pandemic Targeted hate crimes have surged by almost two thousand percent
Where are you, CNN? Where are you, my fellow activists and leaders of social justice? Deafening silence from the news media and our so-called allies Feigned outrage only when it’s trendy I am traumatized by your apathy
You cannot be anti-racist without acknowledging the Asian American experience.
Enough with the narrative of the Model Minority What is the Model Minority Myth? I guess I’ll save you the self-education And tell you about a nation that only respects you when you keep your head down and talk nice Get good grades and that’s the price of being tolerated in White America But despite staying out of trouble and being quiet equality never comes with being compliant
Because you see, the Model Minority Myth was weaponized by our government back during the Civil Rights movement to say that there is a “correct” way to be a minority The audacity of White Supremacy To give us a pat on the head for being silent To take a diverse race of people and reduce them to a monolith The audacity of White Supremacy To use us as their tools to undermine the Black fight for civil rights To pit minority groups against each other and further the divide
A nation built on the backs of Black people and immigrants Born with this burden that we were doomed to carry as soon as our lungs drew in the first breath The breath that got heavier and heavier with each year of life A life of N*****, Ch*nk, Oriental, “blacks” as a noun with a lower-case B, Dred Scott, Korematsu, Plessy Yellow Peril, Chinese Excluded, For Colored Only A life of imperialism and colonization and cultural appropriation A life of “I think you may have confused me with the other [insert indistinguishable face of color] in this room” and “I’ve never dated a [insert fetishizable object of color] person before” and “But what’s your real name” and “Can I touch your braids” and “Your English is good” and “You don’t sound Black” and “Your lunch smells funny” and “Go back to your country”
No amount of the Model Minority Myth embedded in deep interracial conflict will change the fact that we have always been seen and treated as secondary citizens If citizens at all
From a young age I didn’t know how to take up space It’s having to laugh off microaggressions because we are made to feel that the racism against us isn’t real – is miniscule, is just a joke Gaslit over and over We are told to embrace our “good stereotypes” I mean what exactly is our plight when we’re all just so good at math Right? But this Myth invalidates the reality of the Asian American experience Our internalized racism, our intergenerational traumas Our women the subject of hyper-sexualization Our men the epitome of emasculation It paints us as submissive and void of personality Strips us of our individuality It erases the millions of low income Asian Americans that exist in poverty It ignores the historic underfunding of Chinatowns as people huddle around what little reminders they have of their homeland It silences our struggles and shoves them to the sidelines This repulsive notion of white proximity
I’m tired of being told that we are not Oppressed Enough. Enough.
We are not your model minority.
I’ve said this a hundred times and I’ll say it again: The burden should not fall on people of color to be educators I’m going to be honest and I hope you will be modest enough to listen Because writing this piece was so exhausting So emotionally draining I wanted to swallow my words, swallow my pain To shut off my brain and just mourn in bed I wished I was privileged enough to write about Snow Day instead But instead I opened a Google Doc and my curtains and my wounds
This toxic rhetoric of “Your oppression isn’t as bad as mine” and “Now is not the time” Sorry but I didn’t know that racism had a sign-up sheet A hate crime against one community is a hate crime against all of our communities We all suffer under the puppetting hand of this systemic oppression The problem is not us and each other and this underlying tension The problem is White Supremacy so pay attention
If your anti-racism isn’t intersectional, are you really anti-racist? Don’t ask us to shrink our space when we have already gone our whole lives feeling small I promise that there is enough space to go around this arena of Oppression Olympics that was designed to be the modern day Hunger Games Designed to point fingers and call names but we are all pawns of the same system So shouldn’t we be asking instead: who designed it? And how do we get out? Unity is not possible with White Supremacy But unity against it is necessary to defeat it The only way out is together Diversify your narratives so we can do and be better So that we can uplift all of our communities and stand in solidarity This struggle for safety This struggle for scraps of space at each other’s expense
But now that I’m here, let me make this clear: Asian Americans cannot find safety in the same institutions that terrorize Black Americans Although we are wounded, the police must still be defunded Increased policing is not the answer Black Lives Matter So we must make good on our promise from last summer To use our privilege and protect the Black community So instead of calling for increased policing that will harm Black bodies Let’s get to the root and provide adequate services and resources for all of our communities Let’s rid this false notion that there is mutual exclusivity in this fight for equality The solution lies in addressing this violence that is rooted in White Supremacy A violence that is not the violence that we see but the violence that is Unemployment, Homelessness, Wealth Hoarding, Redlining, and Poverty
So let’s turn this mentality into a new story One where Asian Americans can take up space unapologetically and speak their truths and shed their invisibility One where our white and POC allies support us openly by condemning anti-Asian violence in their own communities I challenge you to check your own biases and follow through on your commitment to diversity See us, show up for us, and take on responsibility Hold accountability
Marginalized freedoms have always been and will always be intertwined My pain is your pain is our collective pain It is our collective grief and our collective loss And so your fight is my fight and my fight Should be yours, too
Rosa Kim is a second-year student at BC Law. You can reach her at email@example.com.
A couple of weeks ago, Dean Rougeau quoted Martin Luther King in his powerful letter to the BC Law community: “We may all have come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.”
What does this mean?
It means that not a single person in America can remain silent or apathetic in this fight for racial equality. Racism is pervasive and comes in many forms. Racism is police brutality. Racism is microaggressions. Racism is “color-blindness.” Racism is silence.
As we remain in our homes for the foreseeable future, we are all altering our perceptions of what is “normal” to acclimate to the current reality. Amid law school selection season, prospective students face a unique challenge—getting a feel for law schools without actually being able to visit.
In response, BC Law recently held its first virtual Admitted Students Day on March 27 and 28. Administration, professors, alumni, and current students all contributed to the content, trying to encapsulate what makes BC Law so special in a series of posted videos and live webinars.
“Who should we talk to?” I whispered to my fellow networking newbie, scanning the reception room.
“I don’t know,” she whispered back. “I feel awkward.”
Thinking back to that night last September at the 1L Boot Camp Kickoff hosted by WilmerHale, I realize that I’ve come a long way in just a few months. I, like many of my peers, didn’t think I was the “networking type of person.” What did I—straight out of college with no legal experience or background—possibly have to talk about with big-deal attorneys who’ve been in the legal profession for longer than I’ve been alive?
Recognizing that I’m still far from an expert at this game, here are some things I’ve learned. Lesson one: with practice, networking does get easier.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese forces attacked U.S. naval base Pearl Harbor, resulting in the United States’ declaration of war on Japan. President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously referred to the bombing of Pearl Harbor as “a date which will live in infamy.”
In February 1942, ten weeks after the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066—the authorization of the armed forces to mass transport and relocate all people of Japanese ancestry into “internment camps” in the name of national security. The order affected the lives of over 100,000 people, the majority of whom were American citizens. It also opened the door to an ugly chapter of American history—one of fear, xenophobia, and unbridled racism.
On the home front, Anti-Japanese war propaganda fueled America’s hatred and paranoia. Such propaganda portrayed the Japanese as monkeys, rats, and snakes—often depicted preying on white American women to further incite anger and fear.
We’re in our second month of 1L. By now, the Law Library has become our new home, caffeine and free pizza fuel our bodies, and we’ve all gone through the five stages of grief. And by now, almost everyone has been personally victimized by the supposedly random Cold Call.
So why is it that some of my classmates still carry a sense of alienation in the classroom?
The first week of school, one of my professors painstakingly struggled through a name pronunciation before giving up and joking, “I guess that’s the first and last time I call on you.” People laughed. To most of our classmates, I’m sure this incident wasn’t a big deal. They chuckled along with the professor, then probably forgot about it by the next cold call, not a second thought given to this well-intended yet problematic attempt at comic relief.
But as I glanced around the room, I met the eyes of other students of color. I could tell that there was a mutual understanding—this clear microaggression had triggered a feeling we all knew with aching familiarity. A feeling of hotness—a prickling sense of embarrassment and shame mixed with exasperation and invalidation. Of course, we knew that the professor had no malicious intent or meant any harm. But to us, the professor’s comment hadn’t just been a joke. It was a reminder of the underlying alienation and otherness we were conditioned to feel our whole lives.