Tomorrow, Boston College Law School holds its last blood drive of the year at a time when the nation’s blood supply is critically low. Due to the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Red Cross had to declare its first-ever national blood crisis in January. Even prior to the pandemic, meeting the country’s needs was a challenge; 4.5 million Americans require a blood transfusion each year, but less than forty percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood. And less than ten percent donate annually. The BC Law community includes many people who have committed themselves to lives in service of others. But the prospect of donating blood remains a significant psychological hurdle for many. We have had to conduct constant outreach to fill the blood drive schedule. In fact, we still need more donors. If you are able, please sign up to donate here: Boston College Law Blood Drive Registration Page.
Given this state of affairs, it is all the more frustrating that we have had to turn away gay or bisexual men who are eager to donate blood. Despite the urgent need for blood and the difficulty of finding donors, we have had to tell friends, colleagues, and classmates that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulatory oversight of the U.S. blood supply, prohibits donations from “Men who have sex with Men” (MSM). The FDA instituted a lifetime ban on blood donations from MSM in 1985. This was early in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, when the incidence of HIV among gay men was high, the virus was poorly understood, and there were no available screening methods for donated blood.
Korematsu v. United States is easily one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time, and one that people are often unaware of until they get to the strict scrutiny aspect of their Constitutional Law class. In fact, I distinctly remember getting to the World War II portion of history in APUSH back in high school, seeing a brief mention of this case, asking about it in class, only to be brushed off because it “wasn’t important.”
Yesterday was January 30th, 2022: Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, a day that is mostly only observed in California. On the anniversary of Korematsu, I’d like to draw attention to the article my APALSA mentor, Rosa Kim, wrote up a year ago–and also to weigh in with my own thoughts on the matter.
Korematsu is, undoubtedly, an ugly portion of US History that is often swept under the rug. Fred Korematsu was only 23 when he was ordered by the US Government to evacuate his residence and move into one of the Japanese internment camps prepared in the wake of Pearl Harbor, designed to herd the Japanese American population into controlled areas to supervise them. Anyone “at least 1/16th Japanese” were evacuated. Korematsu was the age many of us students are today when he changed his name and had plastic surgery done to try to avoid this mandate. As a US citizen, he did not understand why he was being herded off to camps as a prisoner merely for the way he looked. He chose to stay at home rather than relocate and was eventually arrested for his violation of the order. Korematsu then courageously appealed his case until it reached the Supreme Court, maintaining that the evacuation order was a violation of his 5th Amendment right.
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.
Just Law co-hosts Tom Blakely and Jim Fiore interview BC Law Liberty Mutual Professor Pat McCoy, who helped found the Federal Consumer Protection Bureau before coming to BC Law, about the collapse of SVB and the growing pressure on other banks.
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.