Conversations In Context: Organizing – Hosted By Yoonj Kim

Faced with historic injustices that often spilled into violence, Asian-American students at UC Berkeley–buoyed by the support of other student groups–went on strike in May 1968, demanding more diverse curricular representation. Later, leaders like Grace Lee Boggs and Larry Itliong would force a greater reckoning with the country’s past in order to extract social, economic, and legal change for their communities. Join MTV News correspondent Yoonj Kim and National Museum of American History Curator Theodore S. Gonzalves as they pick out lessons for the equally fraught landscape we face today.

NBA Veteran Jeremy Lin On Being Called ‘Coronavirus’ On The Court; Talks How Everyone Is So Quick Compare Struggles Between Different Minority Groups

In the wake of the mass shootings in Atlanta that killed eight people – including six Asian women – basketball pro Jeremy Lin tweeted “to my Asian American family” about his heartbreak and deep concern. While the shooting suspect’s motive has not been made public, Lin is no stranger to the anti-Asian sentiment that has been on the rise since the pandemic began. Lin is best known for generating “Linsanity” when he led a winning turnaround with the New York Knicks in 2012. Just before the deadly attack in Atlanta, he spoke with Michel Martin about racism in sports as part of Exploring Hate – our ongoing series on antisemitism, racism, and extremism.

Asian Hip Hop Record Label 88rising Gets Slammed For Posting Yellow Square On Instagram After Atlanta Shooting

88rising, an Asian American media company, apologized late Wednesday for posting a yellow square to its Instagram page in a clumsy attempt to call attention to the recent spate of anti-Asian violence — including Tuesday’s mass shooting outside Atlanta.

“Thank you to our community for sharing your comments and critiques with us,” said a statement that took the post’s place. “It was never our intention to cause harm, but we recognize the effects of our actions and apologize.”

The original post was criticized for co-opting the black squares that filled Instagram last summer during the height of protests against police brutality and systemic racism against Black people.

The company, which provides management and video production as well as operates a record label and marketing company, insisted that its intentions were pure. “We are not trying to start a yellow square movement, though we understand how it was misinterpreted,” it said in a new statement.

Not only did 88rising draw backlash not only for seeming to piggyback on the show of solidarity associated with Black Lives Matter, but many noted that the black squares were roundly dismissed by organizers last summer as being unhelpful to the cause.

Others said they initially thought the yellow square must be a joke and were shocked to see 88rising actually post one — even after the deadly attack outside Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.

Moreover, many regard “yellow” as a slur leveled at people of Asian descent — while the term Black is a widely accepted racial category as defined by the U.S. Census.

“Enough is enough. Heartbroken with the disgusting and senseless violence in Georgia tonight,” read the caption of the original post, which has been deleted. “Violence against the Asian community has to stop. Let’s protect each other and stand against hate.”

Source: TheWrap

The Muddled History Of Anti-Asian Violence

Recently, fears of another wave of anti-Asian violence have arisen following a string of viral videos depicting attacks against Asian Americans. In late January, a clip circulated of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an eighty-four-year-old man originally from Thailand, being assaulted as he walked down a street in San Francisco. He died days later. Around this time, another clip, showing a ninety-one-year-old Asian man in Oakland’s Chinatown being shoved to the ground while walking down the street, made the rounds. The actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu offered rewards for information on the assailants. A few days later, Kim, Wu, and the activist Amanda Nguyen appeared on MSNBC, in part to chastise the mainstream media for being slow to cover these attacks. Even as outlets began reporting on these videos, attacks continued: a Filipino-American man’s face was slashed in New York; a Korean-American man was beaten in Los Angeles’s Koreatown while assailants shouted slurs at him. About a week ago, another viral clip circulated, this one of a fifty-two-year-old Asian-American woman being shoved to the ground in Flushing, Queens.

For some Asian Americans, the videos provided proof of what they have been feeling for some time, namely, that they are increasingly targeted on the basis of their appearance. But within this was a sense that their concerns would never be taken seriously. In the cases of the San Francisco and Oakland attacks, some officials, and even local community members, questioned whether these attacks were random rather than racially motivated. The attacker captured in the Queens video was released, and no hate-crime charges were brought against him. Beyond pressing for media coverage, however, the demands around what to do next were sometimes contradictory. Calls for more protection in Asian neighborhoods struck critics of police brutality as the wrong answer; in particular, Kim and Lee’s so-called bounties were perceived to undermine the efforts of Asian-American organizers already working toward community-oriented solutions to public safety. Villainizing the suspects, at least two of whom were Black, seemed to play into racist narratives of inner-city crime. Some felt dismayed that Black and brown community leaders had not rushed to the defense of Asian Americans; others claimed that such standards construed the fight for justice as quid pro quo. Calls to center and protect Asian “elders” drew criticism for playing into a respectability politics that casts a kindly grandma or grandpa as a sympathetic, innocent victim. I saw someone on Instagram acerbically wonder whether these were the same elders whom we had recently been urged to lecture about their racism?

Visibility matters. Yet obsessing over it sometimes obscures the long-standing challenges of organizing Asian Americans around a single, shared story. It’s difficult to describe anti-Asian racism when society lacks a coherent, historical account of what that racism actually looks like. The parameters of activism often get defined by hashtags—#StopAAPIHate, #ProtectOurElders, #NotYourModelMinority—rather than a sense of history. In the age of Black Lives Matter, the desire to carve out a crisp, pithy position is greater than ever. But the past weeks’ conversations have illustrated how the Asian-American experience doesn’t always fit neatly into conventional understandings of victimhood.

For decades, Asian people in America tended to identify more with their own nationality and ethnicity than with a broad Asian-American community. But, in the sixties and seventies, a more inclusive sense of Asian-American identity grew out of a desire for political solidarity. This new identity assumed a kind of cross-generational ethos, as younger people forged connections with older immigrants, helping them to navigate social services and to understand their rights. And it found clarity through collective struggle, as when, in 1977, in San Francisco, Asian-American community organizers, aided by a multiracial coalition of allies, came to the defense of a group of elderly Asians, mostly Filipino men, who were being evicted from their longtime homes in the I-Hotel. But the real turning point came in 1982, when two white men, one of whom had been laid off from his job as an autoworker, followed Vincent Chin, a young Chinese-American draftsman, from a Detroit bar to a nearby McDonald’s and beat him to death. Witnesses said that the three had initially fought at the bar, and that during the altercation the men had allegedly mistaken Chin for Japanese and blamed him for the American auto industry’s decline. The men later claimed that it was a fight that had gotten out of hand, and that they were not motivated by Chin’s race. They were given probation and fined. The lenient sentencing sparked a national campaign against anti-Asian racism and inspired an Oscar-nominated documentary, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

In contrast to racism against other groups, anti-Asian racism has rarely been as gruesome and blatant as it was in the Chin killing. There have of course been other violent incidents, like the “Chinese massacre” that occurred in Los Angeles, in 1871, or the Sikh-temple shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 2012. But the history of Asian victimhood in America is varied and muddled. A presumption of foreignness might link exclusionary immigration policies of the nineteenth century to the internment of the Japanese during the Second World War; the paranoia around Asian-American scientists, which resulted in the mistreatment of a Taiwanese-American nuclear scientist named Wen Ho Lee, in the nineteen-nineties; and post-9/11 Islamophobia. Yet even the effects of these broad patterns of discrimination aren’t uniformly felt. And the needs and disadvantages of refugee communities and poor Asian Americans have been obscured as much by the myth of Asians as the “model minority” as by the movements, particularly among the professional class, to resist this myth.

The current moment underscores the in-between space that Asian Americans inhabit. It’s hard to prove bias in a hate crime, and it’s typically done by showing how a particular crime draws on recognizable histories of violence or neglect. This becomes difficult when people are mystified by the idea of anti-Asian racism. In Chin’s case, the culprits were white men who espoused racist ideas, which made it easier to recognize the assault as a hate crime and to organize the community around it. Some recent attacks also make legible the ways in which systemic injustices afflict Asian Americans. In late December, police officers killed a Chinese-American named Christian Hall in Monroe County, Pennsylvania; soon after, a Filipino-American man named Angelo Quinto died, after a police officer choked him by kneeling on his neck in Antioch, California. Both Hall and Quinto were suffering from mental-health episodes at the time. Officers claimed that Hall, who was standing on an overpass, pointed a gun in their direction. Quinto died as his family, who had called the police out of concern, looked on. Campaigns fighting for the officers to be held accountable fluidly align with the movement for Black lives, and the criticism of the criminal-justice system’s overreach and potential for brutality.

The videos circulating now are more difficult to parse. In the case of the ninety-one-year-old who was injured in Oakland, the culprit was a man with what a judge called “significant mental-health issues” who seemed to target people indiscriminately. Local community leaders in the Bay Area warned against drawing overly simplistic conclusions from these incidents. “These crimes and violent situations that happen in Chinatown have been happening for a while,” Alvina Wong, a director at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, explained to the Oaklandside. The attack captured on video was one of more than twenty tallied by the president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce in a two-week span. We might instead read these videos as part of a larger set of stories. The gutting of local reporting and newspapers has made it harder for communities to stay informed about city politics and the conditions driving local crime. Economic policies that once extracted resources from cities have now caused them to gentrify and crowd out the poor, making enemies of neighboring communities. Mayors and politicians who don’t at all fear losing the support of their Asian constituency rarely feel the need to proactively work on their behalf. Meanwhile, a tattered social safety net does little to help those struggling with mental health.

Source: The New Yorker

President Donald Trump’s Lawyer and Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani Accidentally Uploads Video of Himself Mocking Asian Accents

Rudy Giuliani accidentally uploaded a video of himself to YouTube on Wednesday night, in which President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer is seen to mock Asians in a racist manner.

The former mayor of New York City and President Donald Trump’s current personal lawyer put on a stereotypical Asian accent while bowing with his hands clasped together and talking about ordering Chinese food in the video.

An extended version of the video was set to private but not before clips made rounds on social media.

Source: NextShark

US Marine Jarrett Morford of Windsor Colorado Investigated After Making Racist Threats to Shoot Chinese People

A Marine who posted a video online in which he uses slurs against Chinese people and threatens to shoot them when he deploys with the fleet is now under investigation, the Marine Corps said Thursday.

Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a Marine Corps spokesman, identified the Marine in the video as Pfc. Jarrett Morford, 20, and said Morford’s command is taking “appropriate action.”

Morford, who is from Windsor, Colo., is now training for a communications job at Twentynine Palms, Calif. He graduated boot camp in August.

“There is no place for racism in the Marine Corps. Those who can’t value the contributions of others, regardless of background, are destructive to our culture and do not represent our core values,” Butterfield said.

“As the honorable Trump said today on Twitter, it was China’s fault,” Morford said in the video. “China is going to pay for what they have done to this country and the world.”

It was not clear Thursday which tweet Morford was referencing. President Donald Trump frequently tweets about China, blaming them for the coronavirus pandemic, which he has called “the China virus.”

It was also unclear Thursday when or where the video originally was posted. But it went viral Thursday on Twitter and Instagram.

The video also included profanity and referenced the caliber of bullet used for the M4 and the M16, the standard rifles issued to Marines.

“I don’t give a f*ck! A chink-headed motherf*cker comes up to me when I’m in the fleet, say 5-5-6 b*tch. That’s all I gotta say,” Morford said. “Say 5-5-f*cking-6!”

Source: Stars And Stripes

LA County Begins Program to Combat Acts of Hate After Rise of Racism Towards Asian Americans Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Responding to what officials called increased acts of hate in recent years, most notably against Asian-Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County on Wednesday announced a campaign aimed at encouraging reporting of such incidents and responding to them.

The “L.A. vs Hate” campaign is a three-pronged effort that will include a marketing outreach campaign encouraging people to report acts of hate, improved resources for residents to report such acts through the county’s 211 hotline and a network of agencies to assist victims and develop prevention strategies.

“L.A. County is one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant communities in the world,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “Despite our diversity, these past few years have seen a steady rise in reported hate acts in our county. We also know that as a result of COVID-19, there has been an ugly backlash toward our Asian-Pacific Islander community. Spikes in calls to the 211 hotline reflect that racism.”

Source: NBC LA

Asian Americans face dual challenges: Surging unemployment and racism

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A new study from UCLA reports that since the start of the pandemic, 83 percent of the Asian American labor force with high school degrees or lower has filed unemployment insurance claims in California — the state with the highest population of Asian Americans — compared to 37 percent of the rest of the state’s labor force with the same level of education.

At the same time, new research shows that discrimination against Asian Americans is surging. More than 2,300 Asian Americans had reported bias incidents as of July 15, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, or A3PCON, which hosts the self-reporting tool Stop AAPI Hate.

The UCLA report, published last week, examined the impacts of the coronavirus on the Asian American labor force in California. It revealed that disadvantaged Asians working in service industries have been “severely impacted.”

Researcher Paul Ong, who worked on the report, said that beyond pervasive service industry struggles, he believes people are abandoning Asian establishments because of biases.

“This is why racializing COVID-19 as ‘the China virus’ has profound societal repercussions. We have seen this in the increase in verbal and physical attacks on Asians and in material ways in terms of joblessness and business failures,” he said in an interview.

Source: NBC News