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AAPI Research Coalition (ARC): On the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Israel academic institution boycott resolution- Guest Blogger- T.J....


“I have been unable to live an uncommitted or suspended life. I have not hesitated to declare my affiliation with an extremely unpopular cause.” – Edward Said (2003)

Many might find it intriguing that the first U.S. academic organization to endorse a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is…

On intentions, impact, and identities: A response to a well-intentioned white female student

It’s finals week! And I finally finished all the pre-finals grading last week. One of my students, a white woman, wrote in her event reflection paper, “Two articulate intelligent black teenagers spoke about the impact of gun violence in their lives.”

I was triggered. So I provided feedback on her paper that these words “articulate intelligent black teenagers” can be quite triggering and asked, “Why wouldn’t youth selected to speak at a large public assembly be both articulate and intelligent?”

The student emailed me with great respect and asked genuine questions, to which I just spent the last hour responding to her thoughtful comments and questions. Teaching is not easy. It’s a very personal and challenging art form with which I continue to struggle and immensely enjoy. Here is my email to the student…


Thanks for your thoughtful response to my questions and feedback. I appreciate that you’re struggling with understanding your emotions in reaction to the event. It’s not always easy to understand emotional reactions. However, I encourage you to keep struggling to do so, because it is an important task in participating in and reaffirming social justice and to be a change agent.
With regard to your comments:
"I could have been silent on race and intellect and made the same point without being triggering. This gets to a comment you kept coming back to during class…..intent vs. impact. I keep thinking about this and trying to figure out if/when my impact is negative in my interacts when my heart/intent are not.

I am curious, if I was non-white and wrote what I wrote, would the words be as triggering? Would you or others question my intent? Are triggers triggers regardless of their source/author?”
These are really good thoughts and questions. Let me first answer your questions by saying that if you were not white, the comment would still be triggering for me. I end with “for me,” because I can only comment on how I react to these descriptors of Black youth. Working in predominantly non-white spaces in New Orleans and Los Angeles, I have heard such comments about young people of color (not just Black youth), and I do cringe regardless of the source/author. I think perhaps part of it is that for me I’ve too often seen people in general assume that young people of color cannot be intelligent and articulate. For me, it truly short changes the amazing contributions these youth can make to all facets of society.

With that said, I do also believe that it is important when we are interested in social justice work to always be reminded of our identities (target and privileged) in how our words can be received within the interplay and intersections of terrains of social interactions. Like you, I have multiple identities. As an Asian American, perceived to be young/professionally inexperienced, highly educated, faculty member with power over students’ grades but with limited power within the rank and file of her workplace, U.S. born child of immigrants, an American with all legal rights of U.S. citizenship but often perceived to be a foreigner, cisgender straight woman, Christian, temporarily able-bodied … my list of identities (target and privileged) could go on and on. At any given moment in any given social interaction/context, my words can have great power or no/limited power, both intended and unintended. It is extremely challenging to constantly reflect on the different dimensions of my identities and how they can influence or cause how another person (with all of that person’s identities) within our social interaction can be affected by my words or actions. Despite these challenges, I continue to reflect on them even when I feel wary because I am committed to social justice.
At the same time, I am often reminded of my blind spots, which can bring me down. For example, I recently had a social interaction with someone who is a Masters student at a program at another school that reminded me of the multiplicity of my identities. On the one hand I felt that the young white male masters student had disrespected me, and from what I could gather it was because I am an Asian American woman. In response, I used my faculty identity and power to shut him down, out of my own quick anger. Was it just for me to do this? It was certainly, in the moment, very satisfying. However, I regret my response now that I realize the extent of the power my faculty identity had on him. I continue to reflect on the layers of identity and power I have as an educator. I recognize that I continue to be a work in progress. We’re all human. We’ll always be imperfect works in progress. So as I reflect on my power in my new identity as a faculty member, I continue to work on coming to terms with the new responsibilities that come with this new privileged identity.
In the same way, I hope that you will continue to reflect on your multiple identities, including what it means to be a white woman. While the “intelligent and articulate Black youth” comments in your reflection paper would have been triggering for me regardless of who wrote them, this fact should not be a barrier to your continued struggle to reflect on and understand your identities and the difference between intentions and impacts in complex social interactions. The fact that you are white brings an additional depth to your words, because of the privilege and power you have that comes from our social system of whiteness. And with great power comes great responsibility (yes, I just quoted Spider Man’s Aunt May).
Thank you for your thoughtful comments and questions, R. They challenged me to engage in my own process of continued reflection. I hope this email will support and push you to continue your own process.
Good luck with the rest of your finals.

Link/ APIASF and CARE Launch National Movement to Help Asian American and Pacific Islander Students


The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) — the leading AAPI student- and research-focused organizations, respectively — today kicked off a national public awareness effort dedicated to increasing access and completion among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, the fastest-growing, but often the most overlooked and underserved student population at U.S. colleges and universities.

The new campaign, “We’re the Changing Face of America,” is a multi-layered, grassroots effort working through strategic partnerships with three of the nation’s Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs): De Anza College, City College of San Francisco, and South Seattle Community College. In addition to the campaign’s AANAPISI partners, other supporters at business, civil rights, community-based, and student- and youth-advocacy organizations are playing an important role in sharing information and messages.

Read the full press release.

ARC Fellow Dr. OiYan Poon slated to give NCORE Keynote

Not Waiting for Superman: Cross-Racial Coalitions and Transformative Youth Resistance for Education Equity

May 29, 2013 from 5 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.

This multimedia keynote presentation will highlight the possibilities of community-university research partnerships for democratic social justice change and education equity. Along with VAYLA youth from the New Orleans East community, Dr. OiYan Poon will share lessons of urban education reform, political youth empowerment, and civic engagement gained through an extensive 16-month youth participatory action research project that found persistent educational inequalities in New Orleans. Although New Orleans politicians, charter school proponents and other educational entrepreneurs claim that the privatization of the city’s schools has resulted in an education “miracle,” youth at the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA) and other local youth organizations are critically questioning these declarations. Politically empowered with data and evidence from an extensive youth-led, collaborative research project that evaluated six New Orleans high schools using community and youth defined evaluation criteria including college access and readiness, New Orleans youth-interests and voices are now being taken seriously in the city’s education politics.  

Asian American victim of racism commits suicide

This is so heart-breaking and tragic! As a survivor of racist bullying in school as a child, I was glad to see more public attention paid to bullying especially after the suicide of Phoebe Prince, who lived in a town near where I grew up. However, I also wondered why it took the case of a pretty young white girl to spark national attention. Will David Phan’s suicide garner as much attention… or any attention outside of Utah and the Asian American blogosphere?

U.S. Dept of Education's Office for Civil Rights -- Four-Year Report on Civil Rights Enforcement and Educational Equity

AAPIs are referred to in this report as both faring worse and better than their peers in our education system.

Notable points in the report:

A technical note on the need for ethnic disaggregation of AAPIs…

To ensure an accurate cohort analysis, the collection is now done in two parts—the earlier one with enrollment indicators and the later one to track outcomes, such as completion of certain courses—and includes further disaggregation by disability status (by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 separately), race (including further disaggregation of Asian/pacific Islander and multiracial student population), and English learner status. 

A reference to OCR’s support in the South Philly case.

OCR has also provided extensive technical assistance to school districts, colleges and universities across the country on harassment-related issues.  In one city, Asian-American students suffered pervasive acts of harassment, including an incident in which approximately 30 Asian-American high school students were attacked, leading many to be sent to the emergency room.  OCR is now working with other federal and local organizations, including DOJ’s Community Relations Service, to conduct student workshops at secondary schools in that city and others that are experiencing racial or inter-group tensions.  (p. 62)

Jeremy Lin and Affirmative Action

2 of my favorite topics! What do they have to do with each other? I might be talking about this during a round table at the 2013 AAAS conference in Seattle. We’ll see.

Here’s what I’m thinking as I start crafting the argument/paper… Linsanity is proof positive that affirmative action works and benefits Asian Americans.

Hear me out. JLin (side note: I’m waiting for a spike in popularity of the baby names “Jaelin,” “Jaylin,” etc. especially among Asian Americans.) faced incredible odds of making it in the NBA.  Why? Quite simply, he’s Asian American. He’s not Chinese like Yao or Yi Jianlin. He’s Asian American, and race matters. Mainstream America still has difficulties wrapping its head around what that actually means. He has had to prove himself time and time again that he belongs on the court even though he led his high school team to win the California (yes, that’s a state in the U.S., not China or Taiwan) state championship. Despite this accomplishment, he didn’t get any NCAA scholarship offers. He struggled to be noticed by the NBA, just to be overlooked again and again. He didn’t fit the normative models of what a ball player should look like or what his playing style should be like. And as he’s openly shared:

"I’ve always been a target," Lin says. "Everyone looks me and says, ‘I’m not going to let that Asian kid embarrass me. I’m going to go at him.’ That’s how it’s been my whole life. This has been different, though. Now, I was on the scouting report. People started to pay attention to what I could and couldn’t do. “But a target? I was used to that. I’m not saying I get everyone’s best shot, but I would say people don’t want to be embarrassed by me because of my skin color.”

Race matters.

He’s different. His look, his style, his contexts of opportunity didn’t fit the normative ways in which players are evaluated. Perhaps they still don’t. But now, he brings an intangible X-factor to the league - global/$$$ appeal. Does this appeal, this X-factor merit him a spot in the NBA? If you’re the Houston Rockets, a team that has built up a following among overseas Asian fans, then absolutely he merits a starting spot. As I always ask my students, “what is merit?” What factors should be considered by an institution in accepting someone into an institution, a community, an organization, a pro-basketball team and league eager to increase profit margins? it all depends on the organization’s goals.

Does he belong in the NBA? Some don’t think Lin can play.

Last night, Lin had a double-double: 16 pts, 10 assists.

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