NAAPAC e-Newsletter No. 2021-07-31

  • FW: AAUC July Podcast Launched
  • FW: AAUC July Podcast Launched
  • FW: [18MRisng] Vaccine Girl Summer
  • FW: AAPIs Cannot Wield Political Power, Without the Power to Vote

From: Joel Wong
Subject: What does Critical Race Theory mean for AAPIs?

What does Critical Race Theory mean for AAPIs?

July 31, 2021
By Briana Lim, AsAmNews Intern

In the decades since Critical Race Theory’s founding in the 1970s, the topic has made its way into conversations across the nation. However, along the way, the original theory has been warped and misconstrued like a game of ‘Telephone’ gone awry.

Though headlines constantly feature the buzzwords “Critical Race Theory,” many readers don’t have a complete picture of what CRT actually is. Moreover, Asian American readers question their positioning in what is often presented as a dichotomy between Whites and Non-Whites.

The fundamentals of Critical Race Theory are simple. Natalie Masuoka, Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies at UCLA, summarizes the theory for AsAmNews: “Critical Race Theory offers ways of understanding how race is systemically embedded in our social, political and economic practices. An important idea is that racism is not limited to simply a group of people who hold racially biased beliefs but is a widespread problem that implicates us all.”

The theory’s philosophical origins date back to the 1970s with the writings of Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell. He, and subsequent legals scholars like Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and others were spurred to act by the lack of progress since the ’60s Civil Rights movements. Since then, many other scholars have contributed to developing the theory further, and creating branches for specific identity groups, like LatCrit, TribalCrit, and AsianCRT.

The basic tenets of CRT in practice, as explained by the American Bar and Brookings Institute are:

  • Understanding that race is socially constructed and not biologically founded. Science refutes the myth that humans have biological racial differences.
  • Acknowledging that racism is embedded into social institutions (e.g. the criminal justice system, education system, labor market, housing market, healthcare).
  • Racist incidents can not be chalked up to “bad apples”—they are indicative of structural racism.
  • Though racism is built into existing social structures, not all beneficiaries of the system (i.e. White people) are necessarily racist. They may have a moral obligation to work towards rectifying the injustice, but the focus of CRT is on institutional racism.
  • Scholars must take into account the deficits in research that underserve people of color. As such, they must embrace the story telling and lived experiences of people of color.

“Race is a central feature of many societies and is a core factor influencing how inequality is practiced,” Masuoka continued. “If we are to find solutions to this inequality, then we have to understand how race asserts its power. Critical race theory offers a useful way to trace the roots of race and inequality.”

Karin Wang, director of Public Interest Law and Policy at UCLA Law, explains the benefit of applying CRT to Asian Americans. “CRT is a fundamental tool that allows our community to understand and respond to the racism we receive,” she said to AsAmNews.

Wang refers to CRT scholar Mari Matsuda when explaining, “Asian Americans have been at the center of CRT for decades, both as academics but also as prime examples of how laws have been the tool to enshrine and legitimize outrageous acts of racism.”

Recent rises in anti-Asian hate crimes, however troubling, are not new to the community and only renew generational trauma. Asian Americans have endured a long history of state-sanctioned discriminatory policies, Wang explained.

“Perhaps most infamously, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first (but not the only) U.S. law to single out a specific race or nationality to bar from entering this country and it was unapologetically rooted in racist fears about Chinese immigrants.  A modern version was the recent Muslim Ban under President Trump.”

Other examples of oppressive policies include anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting Asian and White intermarriage and Executive Order 9066, the state-sanctioned incarceration of Japanese Americans.

Asian Americans continue to face discriminatory policies. “Laws that uphold or perpetuate racism may be framed in ways that are meant to obscure the racist foundations of the policies,” Wang revealed.

“As the racial group with the largest proportion of foreign-born, Asian Americans have always been particularly vulnerable to language restrictions such as ‘English only’ policies.  In recent decades, it is not a coincidence that areas with high concentrations of new Asian immigrants – like Monterey Park, CA which was one of the first majority Asian cities in the U.S. – saw significant English-only activity, from bans on stores signs to removing Chinese language books from libraries.”

Despite the historical evidence proving the need for a closer look at anti-Asian racism in legislative policy, some critics argue that Asian Americans’ collective success disproves the theory. Outspoken critic Kenny Xu believes the fact that Asian Americans score equally as high, or higher than White Americans in standard metrics of success—like income and educational attainment—they are posited into a “white-adjacent” category that overlooks their obstacles.

He writes on Newsweek, “The problem is that CRT implicitly defines every good societal outcome as ‘White.’ Based on the data, this necessarily puts Asian Americans in a ‘white adjacent’ box that completely ignores their unique cultures and historical struggles. Furthermore, if being rich and successful are necessarily ‘White’ characteristics, the implication is that other races are not, or cannot be, successful, talented or educated. Despite pretending to care about diversity and inclusion, CRT is actually racist in the way it implicitly categorizes groups of people.”

Wang theorizes that much CRT criticism comes from misunderstanding the fundamental intentions of CRT. “CRT is not about whether some Asians succeed in the U.S., it’s about regardless of success, Asians are subject to significant racism perpetuated by the very laws and institutions that are supposed to protect us.”

By Adam Chau, AsAmNews

She cites the recent Atlanta shootings and its investigation as an example. “There is no doubt that anti-Asian harassment and violence is on the rise, as documented by both law enforcement and community tracking projects. And there are also decades of research and analysis on the racist and misogynistic way that Asian women are sexualized and fetishized in American culture.”

“Yet institutions like law enforcement in Atlanta have repeatedly insisted that the March 2021 executions of 6 Asian American women at Asian-owned massage parlors by a White man in a predominantly White and Black city has absolutely nothing to do with race. CRT offers us a way to challenge that assertion and provides a way to understand how race likely played a key role, despite what “official” institutions say.”

Currently, Critical Race Theory dominates the news as students prepare to return to school. After a year of social activism, many have insisted the need for education reform. Yet critics believe teaching CRT in school will further divide children into a binary: the oppressors and the oppressed. They fear that teaching a more complete version of America’s imperfect history will only serve to disillusion students about their country and their peers.

A research Brookings Institute study finds that eight states (Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, and South Carolina) have passed anti-CRT state legislation. “The legislations mostly ban the discussion, training, and/or orientation that the U.S. is inherently racist as well as any discussions about conscious and unconscious bias, privilege, discrimination, and oppression. These parameters also extend beyond race to include gender lectures and discussions.” A number of other states have similarly denounced the teaching of CRT.

Yet, proponents of CRT stress the importance of teaching a full history. Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers, expresses her frustration in a CNN Opinion article. Weingarten cites a new Texas law that, among other things, forbids teaching the concept of “slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to, the authentic founding principles of the United States.”

“There is a saying: “When you know better, you do better.” As a country, we need to know the unvarnished truth about our history so we can do better. Those truths are not magically imbued – they must be taught and learned.”

When asked about the significance of the theory today, Professor Masuoka responded, “It is not a new theory nor is there something particular about today that makes critical race theory any more important today than in the past.”

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story or making a contribution.

From: SK LO
Subject: AAUC July Podcast Launched

The July AAUC Podcast on Racial Harmony has been launched.
The content is excellent and the discussion is very lively.
It is worth listening to.

From: Laura, 18 Million Rising
Subject: Vaccine Girl Summer

Rejecting White Supremacist Grind Culture

It’s Laura, your trusty Campaign Manager here at 18MR. I am so proud of us for hustling and surviving this past year because there’s been so much loss and collective pain. To heal, I am rekindling my relationships, focusing on what brings me joy, and most importantly, resting.

During Hot Girl Summer, I hope you’ll join me in rejecting white supremacist grind culture because living that way is burning us all out. It’s time for new and ancestral ways of living. In the words of Megan Thee Stallion, “Got a whole lot of options ’cause you know a bitch poppin.”

What Asian Americans choose to create and practice right now will be the blueprint for not just what keeps us safe, but how we collectively get free. Creating freedom from violence beyond police requires all of our creativity, resourcefulness, and investment in transformation. Will you join us?

We did it! The Make Us Visible CT campaign has been fighting for Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies to be taught in Connecticut schools. In June, the Governor signed a bill into law allowing for a K-8 model curriculum to be created, including local Native American and LGBTQ+ history too! Let’s keep up the pressure in New Jersey.

Nikkei Uprising is demanding a stop to Biden’s nomination of Rahm Emmanuel from becoming the US Ambassador to Japan. The former Chicago mayor, who covered up the police murder of 17-year old Laquan McDonald, holding this seat of power is bad news. We know policing in the U.S. is connected to militarism and colonization abroad. Say no to Rahm.

Y’all. We need to stop sleeping on the Romance genre and give it the respect it deserves. Helen Hoang is masterful in The Kiss Quotient exploring the relationship between Michael Phan and Stella Lane. Michael is a mixed Vietnamese sex worker taking care of his immigrant mom and family and Stella is a brilliant woman with Asperger’s and limited dating experience. THIS is the representation that we’ve been waiting for.

Hoang wrote this book after her young daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s, which led to her own diagnosis at age 34. If you’re looking to support women of color authors, read real portrayals of neurodivergent characters, and renew your confidence in heterosexual cis men, this is the summer pick for you.

I hate it when this happens, but, signing up for therapy asap. This mic drop will help you find inner peace. Wholesome content alert from our grandmas and the kids have some demands.

Summer TV: Have you seen Kim’s Convenience, because it deserved everything. Sandra Oh, need I say more? lmao what is Alison Roman going to think about this.

From: APIAVote
Subject: AAPIs Cannot Wield Political Power, Without the Power to Vote

We Cannot Wield Political Power without the Freedom to Vote

In the past few months, President Joseph R. Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, Illinois has required public schools teach Asian American history, and California has set aside $156 million to community groups to tackle the root causes of Asian hate. These are just the first steps towards AAPIs dismantling systemic racism and bettering the lives of those in our AAPI communities. Continuing this progress will require AAPIs to continue wielding their political power at the ballot box and ensure the #StopAsianHate movement is sustained through anti-racist platforms that officials are actually elected on. This cannot happen, however, without the ability to vote.

Following the 2020 election, just as AAPIs turned out in historic numbers never seen before, state legislatures have created voting restrictions that disproportionately affect voters of color — limiting absentee voting, purging voter registration lists, closing polling sites, reducing voting hours, and even criminalizing handing out food and water to voters waiting in line. Under the guise of election protection, these laws are creating obstacles to our voting process and limiting accessibility to the polls for those who need it most. These barriers to voting do nothing to protect our country’s electoral process, but rather seek to undermine confidence in the democratic process, reinforcing divisive political tactics that prioritize the voices of some citizens over others.

It is disappointing that as we approach the 56th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, we are still fighting for our freedom to vote. But we cannot give up, and we cannot stop now. The ability of every individual to have a say in our political process is the keystone of our democracy; it is the key tool for AAPIs to continue the progress we have made towards reaching equity for our communities and stopping Asian hate. If we cannot act now, we may not have another chance.

Join us and take action today.

Look up who is is your is Senator here.
Call them and use this script (feel free to adapt if there’s anything else you’d like to discuss):

Hi, my name is [Name]. I am a constituent from [City/State], [ZIP Code].

I am calling to urge Senator _____________ to please vote in support of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Voter suppression is a shameful reality in our country. The ability for everyone to meaningfully participate in our democracy and the need for legislative action is urgent. Congress needs to pass H.R. 1 and H.R. 4 now. These bills are popular. In fact, 8 in 10 Americans are in favor of the provisions in these bills. Again, I urge the Senator to support these bills and do what it takes to protect our freedom to vote. Will Senator ___________  be voting in support of the For the People Act?

Thank you for your time.

Join Us: Celebrate AAPI Power with Civic Holidays!

Join APIAVote as we provide a broad overview of the four major Civic Holidays happening this year: National Voter Registration Day (Sep. 28), National Voter Education Week (Oct. 4 – Oct. 8), Vote Early Day (Oct. 23), and Election Hero Day (Nov. 1). These Civic Holidays provide the AAPI community with a way to celebrate our growing political power. Learn how you can plug in and organize your local community to participate!

Register now:

We’re Hiring: Field and Research Associate and Fall Interns

APIAVote is looking to hire a new Field and Research Associate. Read the full job announcement, including all requested materials, here.

Applications are now being accepted through Monday, August 16, 2021 at 6:00PM EST.

APIAVote is also looking for undergraduate students or recent graduates  interested in protecting voting rights, mobilizing AAPIs to the polls, and ensuring our communities’ voices are heard. The APIAVote Internship Program strives to encourage and cultivate young AAPI student leaders to explore a career in the public sector or the political arena. This internship program will also provide hands-on experience and training on how to organize and implement voter activities to increase the participation of AAPIs in the electoral process.

We have a rolling deadline for fall intern applicants. These internships are unpaid and can be based in Washington, D.C. or virtually.

Learn more about these internships on our website.