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.