Who says Asian Americans are passive and docile?

Tonight, a couple of students and I went to a forum hosted by the March First Solidarity at UW. It was a discussion about the “Model Minority Myth” and its effects on Asian Americans and Asians abroad. The March First Solidarity is a grassroots campus group in conjunction with a movement in South Korea to demand the removal of all American troops from the peninsula. What was striking about the group is that it made up of mostly Asian Americans. They had a panel in the front made up of exclusively Asian Americans. I think it was inspiration to see that. It was striking to me because I almost never see a grassroots, progressive movement like that led by Asian Americans. Usually progressive movements like that on our campus are led by white liberals, with a sprinkling of people of color. It’s like a bowl of vanilla ice cream with some sprinkles on top.

They all talked with such passion, honesty, conviction, tinged with a fighting spirit. They were basically saying, if you think Asian Americans are passive and docile, **** you because just look at us on the panel. They shared their stories and how the model minority myth had constricted who they were and what a revelation it was for them to fight against it and combat white supremacy. At one point, a white student there tried to universalize the issue of white supremacy and racism by saying whites were also discriminated in the past. And people of color rose up and spoke up and responded clearly and forcefully to his argument. A woman passionately talked about how white liberals tend to try to minimize the issue of race and that she’s wary of people who want to make things about bringing people together and watering things down for the sake of not dealing with the complexities and depth of racism and white supremacy.

There was something inspirational for me in that room. To see those young, articulte, eloquent, strong, empowered, confident, passionate Asian American students speaking up for what they believe and not afraid to fight for their convictions even if that meant they might step on people’s shoes and rock the boat a little was something that really uplifted my spirits. It connected to what I want to see with the Asian Americans students that I work with. I want to see Asian Americans students empowered to have their voices heard and reach for the stars. That’s what inspires me more than any speech ever could.

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4 comments

  1. hey,
    Thanks for showing so much love and support for March First Solidarity! It was really inspiring for us too to see so many Asian folks engaging in conversation around how we can defeat/challenge white supremacy. We would love to talk with you more so if you have some time on Friday Feb 29th, come hang out w us at the HUB lawn from 11am to 2pm! We are commemorating March First movement 1919 with some music, food and conversation about our campaign.
    Some of us in the group blog too! Check us out at http://www.blakorchid.blogspot.com
    You can see the interview the HUSKY webcast did on us here:
    http://thedaily.washington.edu/video/2008/2/26/breaking-free-model-minority-myth/

    M1Solidarity

  2. It’s applause worthy that there are Asian Americans that are unwilling to assimilate to Western ideas of how they themselves should be conceptualized. It’s time to stop being polite and bear fangs against forces, seen and unseen, that are the structural roots of oppression that deny and devalue empirical discrimination.

    It’s important that Asian-Americans take up their own fight and refuse to stand placidly still while injustices are heaped atop their heads. March 1st Solidarity’s inspiration from the historic March 1st Movement in Korea demonstrate a position of militancy and solidarity rather than passiveness and self-interested apathy, which is exactly what Asian-Americans need to shake them awake.

    Hope they have all the success in the world. Let’s do our part by voicing our hopes in action rather than just words. A movement can start small, but needs to grow. Only by appreciating the opportunity that like minded individuals exist and are organized and are inspired to act can the aggregate power of Asians in America be realized.

  3. Have any of you lived in asian countries, i think it’s a lot of nonsense that asians try to fight recism in america( because that’t where they live, so it’s convenient to them).
    How about going back to asian and teaching your folks about racism???
    Japan and korean are the most racist countries in asia!!! They don’t like black,latinos or even other asians that come to their country to work, like chinese and philipinos, they treat them as a minority.
    However they treat the white people( especially the blonde with blue eyes) like kings, and then when they come to america, they want to be treated like equals, I’m not a racist, and I do believe that we are all equals, but we shouoldn’t try to do that only in america.
    So for all of you asian-americans who want to be treated equally, why don’t try going home first and try change your parents and relatives’ mind about foreigners living and working there, because as you should know the old and so called traditional people in your countries are the most racist.

  4. Pingback: Sammy Sullivan

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