All that remains of the Heart Mountain concentration camp, where the United States imprisoned over 14,000 Americans of Japanese descent between 1942 and 1945, is the camp’s hospital building. Over the course of a few months in 1942, the federal government transformed hundreds of acres in remote northwest Wyoming—near Yellowstone National Park—into the state’s third most populous city. The valley plain beneath Heart Mountain became one of ten “Relocation Centers,” the Orwellian name given to the World War II era camps in which over 100,000 people were imprisoned on the basis of their Japanese heritage. Back then, Heart Mountain was a bustling camp consisting of barracks, mess halls, toilet and laundry facilities, recreation spaces, workshops, schools, the hospital, a courthouse, administration buildings, nine guard towers, and a barbed-wire perimeter fence. This October, when I scanned the horizon for some sense of place or history, all I could make out was the original hospital building and snow-covered fields.Continue reading
A Conversation with Just Law Podcast and APALSA
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.
SVB and the Banking Crisis – Just Law
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.