The University of Southern California is apologizing to former Japanese American students whose educations were interfered with by the school during World War II.
USC President Carol Folt will issue a formal apology to the former students and award them honorary degrees posthumously, according to the Los Angeles Times. The school is also asking the public for assistance in locating the families of around 120 students who went to USC from 1941-42.
“This is a stained part of our history,” USC Associate Senior Vice President for Alumni Relations Patrick Auerbach told the Times. “While we can’t change what happened in the past … the university can certainly still do right by their families and let them know that we are posthumously awarding them honorary degrees so that they can occupy that place in the Trojan family, which they deserve.”
An executive order issued by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1943 forced the removal of people of Japanese descent from the West Coast, placing tens of thousands of people in detention camps.
USC refused to release the transcripts of Japanese American students so they could attend another university, the Los Angeles Times reported. When some students attempted to return to USC after the war, the school would not recognize their previously completed courses and told them they would have to start over, their surviving family members noted.
USC alumni have been pushing for the school to apologize for their actions toward Japanese American students during World War II for years, but the issue gained new momentum after George Floyd’s murder last year, which prompted many institutions to examine their roles in acts of racism.
USC law students last year publicized their research project centering on the issue, titled “Forgotten Trojans,” and an Academic Senate committee also pushed for the school to formally recognize the issue, the Times reported.
Folt will officially make the apology and award the degrees next spring at an Asian Pacific Alumni Association gala and will also recognize the former students at the school’s commencement in May, according to the Times.
John Oliver discusses the large and diverse group of people who fall under the term “Asian American”, the history of the model minority stereotype, and why our conversations on the subject need to be better-informed.
“Smart.” “Hard-working.” “Nice.” Those were among the adjectives that respondents offered up in a recent poll when asked to describe Asian Americans.
The poll, conducted by the nonprofit Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH), was another all-too-familiar reminder that Asian Americans are still perceived as the “model minority.”
Since the end of World War II, this myth about Asian Americans and their perceived collective success has been used as a racial wedge — to minimize the role racism plays in the struggles of other minority groups, such as Black Americans.
Characterizing Asian Americans as a model minority flattens the diverse experiences of Asian Americans into a singular, narrow narrative. And it paints a misleading picture about the community that doesn’t align with current statistics.
Here’s a look at some common misconceptions driven by the model minority myth.
Myth: Asian Americans are a single monolithic group
Currently, more than 22 million people of Asian descent live in the U.S., making up approximately 7% of the nation’s population. They trace their heritage to different regions around the world, with people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent making up the largest shares, though no group makes up a majority. More than 1.5 million Pacific Islanders, who descend from Micronesia, Melanesia or Polynesia, live in the U.S. as well.
Academics and activists trace the term “Asian American” to 1968, when students at the University of California, Berkeley, founded the Asian American Political Alliance. At the time, the group sought to unite students of Japanese, Chinese and Filipino descent to fight for political and social recognition.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” (AAPI) is a term that has its roots in the 1980s and ’90s, when the U.S. Census Bureau used the “Asian Pacific American” classification to group Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders together. In 1997, the bureau disaggregated the categories into “Asian” and “Pacific Islander.”
Myth: Asian Americans are high earning and well educated
Asian Americans have a median household income of around $78,000 a year, which is higher than the national median of about $66,000. However, that overall statistic obscures large differences among different Asian-origin groups.
These economic disparities are partially driven by similar disparities in education levels among Asian Americans. The highest-earning groups — Indian American and Taiwanese American households — also have the highest levels of education, while the lowest-earning groups have comparatively lower levels of education.
In fact, a 2018 Pew Research Center study found that Asian Americans were the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the U.S., with Asian Americans in the top 10th of the income distribution making 10.7 times more than those in the bottom 10th.
Myth: Asian Americans immigrate to the U.S. in the “right” way
The Asian American community has the highest proportion of immigrants of any ethnic or racial group in the United States. Yet, Asian Americans are often overlooked in debates about immigration reform.
Asians have a wide range of reasons for immigrating to the U.S., including those coming as refugees or asylum-seekers. Out of the almost 11 million estimated undocumented immigrants in the U.S., around 1.5 million (14%) are from Asia, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
The report also found that Southeast Asian immigrants were three to four times more likely to be deported for old criminal convictions compared with other immigrant groups. Out of the approximately 16,000 Southeast Asians with final removal orders in that period, more than 13,000 had removal orders that were based on old criminal convictions.
Myth: Asian Americans face less systemic racism and discrimination
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans have increased. In an April survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 32% of Asian American adults — a greater percentage than any other racial or ethnic group — said that they feared someone might threaten or physically attack them.
But anti-Asian bias and discrimination are not new to the pandemic. To understand the current climate, it’s important to look at historical context. In past periods of national tension, especially during times when the U.S. has been at war with Asian countries, anti-Asian racism has similarly risen.
Myth: Asian Americans are fairly represented in leadership positions
Asian Americans are underrepresented in these positions of power, holding about 3% of these positions in comparison with composing 7% of the U.S. population, a report from The New York Times found last year.
More specifically, Asian Americans have the lowest degree of representation in political office compared with any other racial or ethnic group.
Asian Americans are even underrepresented in states with a high concentration of Asian American residents, like New York and California, according to a report by the Reflective Democracy Campaign.
Especially since the start of collective activism among Asian Americans in the 1960s, Asian Americans have had a rich history of political activism and involvement. But that history has not always translated to greater representation in political leadership.
2019 – Veteran actor George Takei may be best known as Sulu from “Star Trek,” but he also has a darker story to tell. During World War II, thousands of Americans of Japanese descent were forced from their homes and sent to internment camps, Takei among them. Now at 82 years old, he says that the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants motivated him to speak out and revisit this in a new memoir.
Actor George Takei became a sci-fi legend when he starred as Mr. Sulu in “Star Trek.” But his road to success was not a sure thing in the America he grew up in. As a young Japanese-American boy during World War II, he was imprisoned with his family in the now infamous U.S. internment camps. He tells our Hari Sreenivasan about the history behind today’s anti-Asian attacks as part of “Exploring Hate,” our ongoing series of reports on antisemitism, racism, and extremism.
Nu, who is Japanese and Dutch, took to social media to announce that she is the first curvy Asian model to pose for Sports Illustrated. Her spread is set to appear in the 2021 swimsuit issue.
“Secrets out!!! I’m a 2021 @si_swimsuit Rookie! What an incredible honor it is to be in such an inclusive and beautiful magazine that has pushed the envelope since day 1. I’m so proud to be making history as the first Asian curve Sports Illustrated model. Thank you to my team @jonilaninyc @pheeeeeeeebssss @thesocietynyc for being the most incredible agents and to the amazing team at @si_swimsuit @mj_day @jo.giunta @margotzamet for making this happen! An incredible day with our amazing crew who had me laughing all day, photo by legendary @yutsai88 and best hair and makeup by @djquintero and @rebeccaalexandermakeup,” she wrote.
In a second post, Nu shared a video from her shoot and thanked SI for allowing her to “tell my story.”
“I’ve grown very passionate in recent years in talking about the body shame that Asian women and women in general go through, because it was something that was very difficult for me growing up,” she said. “I don’t want anyone to go through life with the lie that they aren’t enough as they are. It stops us from living our fullest lives. WE ARE WORTHY!!! WE ARE DESERVING OF GOOD THINGS!!! LETS GO!!!”
Sports Illustrated posted a quote by the magazine’s editor MJ Day on their social media, with Day saying Nu “possesses the most amount of confidence and appreciation for herself and body that we’ve seen.”
“She doesn’t hold herself to any traditional beauty standards and is gracefully unapologetic for seeing herself as a powerful, beautiful, sensual woman,” Day said. “She shows up for women in a strong way and is on a mission to end the conversation around limiting women in the industry. Not only is she stunning, and an extraordinary model, but she radiates warmth and the kind of energy that we always want around. Yumi’s photos are some of my favorites and so is she!”
In a recent interview with People, Nu explained where her confidence comes from.
“I feel the most confident when I’m grounded in the belief that my worthiness can’t be earned — I have always been, always will be worthy. With that mindset, I can do anything I want!” she said.
She also admitted that she recently began to truly connect with her Japanese heritage in the wake of anti-Asian violence that has been increasing around the country in the midst of the global pandemic.
“The Asian community isn’t always a loud one,” she said. “Our society’s view of Asians in the model minority myth lens has silenced us for many years. In this time of anti-Asian violence, it’s so important now more than ever for Asian people to be heard and supported. The division and racism in our world has gotten so bad; we’ve grown so far from love and connection. I want to create a space for people to feel heard and safe. That’s my purpose on this earth.”
In recent years, Sports Illustrated has been praised for being more diverse and inclusive when it comes to choosing their models. In February 2015, Robyn Lawley became the first curvy model to pose for the magazine’s swimsuit edition. And it was announced on Wednesday that Leyna Bloom became the issue’s first trans model of color.
Before the virus crisis, people would click on the buttons in vending machines to make their purchases but nowadays physical contact is strongly discouraged. So, a Japanese company called DyDo has come up with a new invention.
It has launched the “world’s first foot-operated” vending machine that is completely “hands-free.”
The new innovation allows people to use the foot pedals installed in the vending machines to make their selections. They can also opt for contactless payments by tapping their smartphones to the machine’s display.
Customers can also choose to preorder their items online and then scan their phones to collect their products.
The machine also includes a food tray, which opens when a customer steps on a lever. It is equipped with UV light sterilization to ensure the products are decontaminated the moment customers retrieve them.
A well known musician has been badly injured after being attacked near his home in Harlem.
Now the community has come together to support him.
As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reports, New York-based Japanese musician Tadataka Unno is a beloved member of the local jazz community. The 40-year-old is a renowned pianist and composer.
“He really took hold of jazz culture and embodied it,” said Jerome Jennings, an instructor at the Julliard School, and a good friend of Unno’s. “He’s played in bands with Roy Hargrove and great Jimmy Cobb.”
Jennings says Unno is now suffering mentally and physically after being attacked unexpectedly.
It happened on Sept. 27 around 7:30 p.m. Jennings says Unnon was exiting the subway station at West 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue when several young people were blocking the turnstiles. Unno attempted to walk around the group, but was yelled at and pushed from behind, eventually punched in the face and body.
“He got up, tried to run, fell again, got back up, tried to run, fell again,” Jennings said.
Jennings says Unno’s wife says there were racial slurs yelled in the process.
“He did hear the word ‘Chinese’ and ‘Asian,’” Jennings said.
Police say no anti-Asian remarks were indicated in the report but the investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made.
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.”