Not that you would care or anything. But the day you kicked me out of the library, I was being interviewed, ironically, on if I - as a woman - feel like my gender plays a role in my classroom experience. As I responded to the interview questions, a student yelled from upstairs that I needed to “be quiet.” But you didn’t hear that, did you? What about when that same girl continued to make disruptive noises even after WE lowered our voices. You were silent then. Why?
Although we knew the library was not a “quiet zone”, we still asked a student worker if talking was allowed. You know, just to be safe. Not surprisingly, the library was not a quiet zone. So we took our seats, lowered our voices even more than before, and continue the interview. Soon after, I turned to find you towering over me with the complainer by your side. Without any hesitation you told me that we needed to move away from people.
Stunned into silence, I did not initially respond. I was used to this feeling of being told what to do and having to do it without question. My interviewer - biracial and white passing - was not. As she challenged you, I began to pack my bag. I stood up and in that moment, I was finally able to speak. Was I frustrated? Did I think this was unfair? Yes! But thanks to years of practice and training, when the words came out of my mouth, my feelings of anger and frustration were transformed into polite, poetic, and gentle suggestions. I tried to reassure you that we were going to cooperate, but I also wanted to be heard.
You did not listen. Your mind was made up. You shut me down, before I could say another word. You heard her say, “Why don’t you just leave!” You heard her say, “You’re being aggressive!” You heard her say, “You’re being disrespectful!” And, you did nothing when I was approached by her, another student, screaming in a very confrontational tone. What had I done? Oh yeah! Calmly suggested that in the future you consider both sides before taking action. Though you told us to move, I didn’t expect for you to side with the student who had aggressively accosted us. You told us that we we were rude and to leave completely.
I couldn’t believe that. I wouldn’t stand for it! As I grew enraged, I thought about every video I’ve seen with cops who have been called on a person who looked like me and I remembered that ain't nobody got me like I got me. In the instance that the cops would have been called, I knew that no one would have my back, so for my own safety I knew that I had to leave. So I left. I left feeling deep enragement, sadness, and embarrassment. I felt all alone. I cried on the hallway floor that day. Not that you would care or anything. #PolicingBlackBodies #PBB
A story can go a long way. Come share your story at go.umd.edu/LWB
Undergraduate student, University of Maryland, College Park
Now that you've had a crash course in Asian American activism, it's time for YOU to join in! Find a cause and get involved!
Seattle-based activist, Al Sugiyama (1950-2017) was the founder and long-time director of the Center for Career Alternatives, a multi-ethnic job training center for low income residents, and the head of the Executive Development Institute, a non-profit organization that trains and develops a diverse community of global leaders. As a student during the 1970s, he co-founded the Oriental Student Union at Seattle Central Community College and was a leader in the Asian Student Coalition at the University of Washington (where he was a transfer student). Learn more about Sugiyama here.
Browse the end www.saada.org/ and learn about the experiences, contributions, and history of South Asian Americans.
Adoptees from Asia comprise the largest population of transnational transracial adoptees to the U.S. Adoption from Korea following the Korean War laid the groundwork for the international adoption industry we know today. Although the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) established U.S. citizenship for international adoptees to U.S. parents, many adoptees adopted prior to the implementation of the CCA were not naturalized. The Adoptee Rights Campaign is fighting for the citizenship rights of the thousands of international adoptees currently without citizenship. Learn more here.
Learn more about the Asian American Writers' workshop here.
Increasingly Asian Americans have been vocal about interracial solidarity and a refusal to be pit against other racial minorities. In the midst of high profile police brutality cases against African Americans, Asian Americans have participated in BlackLivesMatter protests and organizing including penning an open letter to Asian American family members explaining why Black Lives Matter. Read more about Asian Americans and BlackLivesMatter as well as the letter to Asian American family members:
From monitoring media portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans to collaborations with primetime networks to increase diversity on screen and behind the camera, Asian American organizations are fighting for racial representation. Learn more here: Social media campaigns have demanded more equitable racial representation of Asian Americans. For example #StarringJohnCho calls for a leading Asian American man. See the campaign here:
Asian American Activists Are Refusing to Join the Fight Against Affirmative Action. With #IAmNotYourWedge, civil rights groups and students are challenging a suit that claims Harvard and the University of North Carolina are admitting unqualified black and Latino students. Read the article here.
Asian American digital activism takes many forms, but in 2016 Times's deputy Metro editor, Michael Luo's experience of racism went viral. His encounter with a woman who told him to "go back to China" and the open letter he wrote in response, resulted in the hashtag #Thisis2016, where Asian Americans shared their experiences of racism. Watch as Asian Americans share their experiences here.
Have you shared what you've learned this month? If not, we challenge you to share something new, intriguing, or surprising from this series.
Nobuko Miyamoto (1939 - ) co-created the first album of Asian American music, A Grain of Sand (1973). In the late 1970s, she co-produced the first Asian American musical, "Choy Suey." The musical was the first project of her performing arts organization, Great Leap, which promotes Asian American performing arts. Learn more about Miyamoto in this interview.
A controversial figure, Richard Aoki (1938-2009) was a civil rights activist and member of the Black Panther Party. Recently released FBI records reveal Aoki as an FBI informant. Friends and supporters contend that Aoki was a steadfast Black Panther Party member and social justice activist. Learn more about Aoki and his role as activist and informant, here.