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5 Reasons Asian Girls Will Not Love You

Oct 25 2014
By: Cat Ye
Categories: Blog
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Editor’s Note: While this post was originally written as a response to a specific piece, the sentiment expressed is general and the original piece no longer available.

The world has never been so open; affordable travel and the internet have done a phenomenal job of erasing distance between borders and allowing fetishizing men to really spread their creed.  For those unfamiliar, fetishization is defined as the excessive or irrational devotion to an activity or object. In this context, an Asian fetish, or ‘yellow fever’, as coined by the writer David Henry Hwang, is a slang term used to describe the intense interest in or attraction for the people and culture of Asian descent by those of non-Asian descent, originating from the stereotyping of Asians in Western society.

Supposedly we lovely ‘exotic’ ladies have just twiddled our thumbs the past few decades, sitting around looking pretty and waiting for the macho Western man to scoop us up and love us. As an Asian woman, a member of the aforementioned ‘exotic’ demographic, I feel it is about to time to set the record straight and strongly insist that just because you find it necessary to fetishize and ‘love’ us, we by no means feel any inclination to love you. Time to dispel the White Savior myth–here are 5 reasons why Asian girls will not love fetishizing men.

  1. We are not your living anime/manga characters. Furthermore, we do not exist to be your soothing massage girl, nor your exotic little housewife. Unlike those of 2D characters in fictional worlds, our range of emotions is as large and complex as any other human being’s, and to have our existence condensed into cute little packets of Asian stress reliever is insulting and demeaning to say the least
  2. Asian women don’t exist to cater to your fetish. Much as we are not dragon ladies, painted geishas, or China dolls, we also don’t exist to fit into any other stereotype you can think of. Contrasting us with the typical Western woman is a moot point–any cultural differences have nothing to do with your dating preferences. It might be nice to think we walk on clouds and breathe out incense, but that fantasy is simply untrue.
  3. Fetishizing is not a compliment. Comments like ‘I love your culture’ and ‘I love Asian women’ are not flattering–they’re downright insulting. ‘Asian’ is not a trait you can look for in a partner. It is a race and can be broken down into various ethnicities, none of which exists for your ‘exploration’ and ‘appreciation.’
  4. Why yes, we are polite and human. More emphasis on the ‘human’ part of that, but I’m surprised that’s news to anyone. And if you are just starting to recognize that we are human beings, capable and worthy of respect, then you don’t deserve our attention.
  5. We do in fact take care of our family and the ones we love. And we owe you nothing. Being an adult does not excuse you from caring for those who raised you, and our love for our family does not serve as an indication to you that we are ‘suited’ for you to acquire and to have your children. Contrary to his belief that APIA women are subservient, we are not brooding mares or housewives. Asian women took 18 of the 50 spots on Forbe’s ’50 Most Powerful Women in Business’ list in 2011, and according to the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans on a whole are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. While some APIA cultures may indeed place more importance on filial piety, career ambitions and motivations have similar priority.

In conclusion, fetishizing is not attractive. While it has certainly seen a rise among netizens, most notably among ‘the good guys’ (who are closely related to ‘the fedora guys,’)who all fall under the umbrella category of ‘misguided,’ there is no function of this trend in the betterment of society.

So, (fetishizing) guys …cut it out. We don’t love you, and we won’t love you, until you learn to respect other human beings and treat them as such.

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ECAASU Welcomes: Our New Bloggers!

Oct 21 2014
By: Cynthia
Categories: Blog
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Hi everyone! I hope you are all ready to learn and discuss more about APIA issues. I certainly am! And that’s why I’m excited to announce that ECAASU has brought on three fascinating and diverse bloggers who will contribute their unique opinions on a weekly or biweekly basis. Please join me in welcoming:

Celeste Chen: Celeste is our new Policy Writer! Celeste’s background and previous works make her the perfect candidate to talk about policy for ECAASU, especially in terms of health. Interested in how? Check out Celeste’s columns, which will be every Tuesday (although her first will be tomorrow).

Shan Lin: Shan is our new General Contributor! Shan is interested in exploring APIA relationships and in the portrayal of APIA people, especially men, in the media. He has lots of insight and thoughts that he draws from his own personal experiences as well as others. Want to know more? Check out Shan’s columns, which will be every other Thursday.

Catherine Ye: Cat is our new Intersectionality Writer! Cat has plenty of thoughts that she’s expressed in many different venues, and we’re thrilled to feature them on ECAASU’s blog! We’re especially looking forward to her thoughts on stereotypes and social injustice. Are you as well? Check out Cat’s columns, which will be every other Saturday.

For more detailed information on these wonderful writers and how to contact them, please visit our “About the Blog” page.

Stay tuned, because our first contributor post will be up tomorrow!

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Starting that Conversation on AAPIs & Mental Health

Oct 21 2014
By: Celeste Chen
Categories: Blog
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Nearly everyone can agree that mental health is both a much-discussed contemporary issue and a tricky, often nebulous term. When approached from an academic angle, mental health and mental illness can often times be too easily reduced to new research, newer pharmaceuticals, and the newest policies.

Even when I first pitched the idea behind this blog post, I wrote, “With my first post, I want to examine the existing mental/physical health issues in the AAPI community, and then focus on current policies and resources that are available/aimed at improving the mental health of AAPI college students.”

But what does that even mean?

I want it to mean that we place our stories alongside our statistics and our policies. I want to have a frank discussion about what terms and concepts like “access” and “language barrier” and “cultural differences” represent from an AAPI standpoint. I want to know what young AAPI’s in high school and college face when they seek out mental health services. And in turn, I want to know what kinds of resources that we have.

The thing is, it’s incredibly easy to write out all of that. Paying lip service is often easier than taking action.

But what do we do–what can we do–when Asian-American women have a higher lifetime rate of suicidal thoughts than that of the general US population? What do we do when Asian Americans between 18-34 years of age think about suicide, intend to commit suicide, and attempt suicide at higher rates than any other age group within the AAPI community?

What do we do when the suicide rate of Chinese-American women is ten times higher than that of white women? What do we do when the number of deaths by suicide among NHPI increased 170% between 2005 and 2010? What do we do when 1 out of 11 AAPI adults have seriously though about committing suicide?

This past May, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted a briefing on mental health issues in the AAPI community. Topics included suicide prevention, barriers that prevent AAPI communities from accessing mental health services, and cultural considerations.

Slowly but surely, we’ve made progress with research and policy.  WHIAAPI has an E3! Ambassadors program aimed at supporting and empowering AAPI students from across the nation in an effort to address mental health disparities in our community. There are toolkits available online that are backed by the White House. We now have nonprofit organizations like the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA) that provide online resources and launch campaigns aimed at educating AAPI youth about mental illness. Even national organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness has information on mental illness and recovery in a selection of Asian languages.

The growing attention on the mental health of AAPI students and the larger AAPI community in general is a positive sign of good things to come, and I am excited to see how the current policies, initiatives, and programs play out in the long term. But we haven’t reached our happy ending yet.

In other words, what can still be improved?

The burden of starting a conversation and changing the way that mental health is addressed in the AAPI community cannot solely be left for us to shoulder. An online toolkit and an informational page on depression or schizophrenia may need to overcome more than a language barrier.

How else how can I start a conversation about mental health with my parents when I may have never learned the word for “mental health” in Chinese? How do I voice what is very often considered a silent taboo? And how do I even begin and then sustain a conversation about mental health when I am told to disregard those who may just be “stuck in their old ways”? When Cornell implements a “Let’s Talk” program where counselors visit student spaces and offer consultations that won’t be recorded in official medical records, what kind of message are we sending about how mental health is addressed in the AAPI family space? And when other universities adopt this model, how many of those counselors themselves identify as AAPI?

Furthermore, when policymakers focus on aiding AAPI students or youth struggling to make decisions regarding their mental health, they cannot forget that many of these AAPI youth do not stand alone. There also need to be a focus on reaching out to AAPI families; there needs to be strategy that seeks to educate our older AAPI brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles, and that education needs to be culturally competent. There is more than a mere language barrier that must be broken.

This is not meant to ridicule the work of mental health professionals in higher education. I simply mean to ask, at the end of the day, how do we really go about exploring mental health in the AAPI community?

We need a better support system that both guides AAPI youth when they navigate mental health services and reaches out to other members of the AAPI community as well.

 

 

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ABC Takes a “Selfie”

Oct 16 2014
By: Alice Tsui
Categories: Blog
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So the food you ordered just came at Sunday brunch with your friends and what is your reaction? “Let’s take a selfie!” It is practically your second nature to whip out your phone in a matter of seconds, only to get that shot of you and your friends to then share on your Instagram which is linked to your Facebook… later.

As a throwback.

With filters.

In hopes of having over 23 likes from your last post.

Selfie

ABC decided to capitalize on the hype of the word and our obsession with social media to create a romantic comedy TV series entitled none other than “Selfie,” starring Karen Gillan and John Cho. You may remember John Cho from “American Pie” and “Harold and Kumar,” but now you can think of him as the first Asian-American to be cast in a lead role on television! On being Asian in Hollywood, Cho states:

“I experienced racism, and in my professional life, I try to take roles (and have always tried to take roles) that don’t fall within the parameters of any Asian stereotype,” Cho wrote. “And so to me, hopefully, that’s a positive thing I can put into popular culture and so maybe in some bizarrely tiny way that helps people not think of Asians in one particular way.” (Washington Post).

Even though this role does not read as “Asian stereotype” to the public eye, it is still novel and exciting for audience members to simply see the Asian-American on screen as a protagonist who will certainly pave the way for more Asian-Americans on television. “I would call this revolutionary,” he told the Toronto Star earlier this year. “It’s certainly a personal revolution for me.” John, it’s an AAPI revolution for all of us in America. We’re ready.

“Selfie” follows the life of Eliza Dooley, a young woman who seeks fame through excessive usage of various social media platforms until she realizes that the importance of being real-life friends with someone significantly outweighs the promises of online friendships. Eliza is then prompted to seek help from Henry Higgs, a marketing image businessman who starts to rebrand Eliza’s image beyond the scope of social media and in real life.

Episode 1: Pilot

The Pilot introduced Eliza and Henry and simultaneously poked fun at our social media obsessed society. As a result, the Pilot received mixed reviews from the online community, with most of the banter revolving around the humor in the show. While we can all be quick to critique, let us take a moment to understand how ironic it is that we are engaging in all the critiquing more so online than in real-life conversations with our friends. Even though some of the comedy may have been a bit exaggerated (and the background music of the show certainly was no help), the show in itself is a commentary to our daily lives which perhaps says a lot about our tendencies on Twitter and what they truly are: insignificant yet major contributors to the omnipresent world wide web.

Episode 2: Un-Tag My Heart

The second episode, “Un-Tag My Heart,” shows the extremes of engaging in social media between Henry and Eliza – from genuine curiosity of exploring friends from the past to putting down the phone in order to pick up a book instead. The character development allows the audience to start connecting with the idea that there needs to be a balance in both of their lives with and without their smartphones, something that also speaks to all of us. In this episode, we see not only Eliza seeking Henry’s in-person advice, but vice versa as well, providing a refreshing co-dependent relationship that is sure to continue.

Which extreme side of consuming social media are you on – the “#ilovehashtags #omg #sorrynotsorry #besthashtagever” side or the “WHAT is a hashtag” side? Or maybe you embody that perfect balance of technology and the old-fashioned way that both Eliza and Henry are desperately trying to find? Is John Cho revolutionizing his role as an Asian American actor and truly breaking stereotypes? Well, let’s check Facebook while we wait for the next episodes! #timetocheckwhogotuglyfromhighschool #watchtheshowandyoullknowwhatimean

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Youth Leadership Week: Reflections

Aug 05 2014
By: Cynthia
Categories: Blog
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Advocacy Coordinator Kathryn Quintin writes a thoughtful reflection on her experience at Youth Leadership Week, WHIAPIA’s Youth Forum, and National Board retreat.

The Preface

So I was in Washington DC this past week, and it was an journey to say the least. I had no clue what I was getting into, who I would meet, the experiences, connections, or the realizations I would have. It was a culture shock, to say the least. From my lack of basic knowledge of public transportation (AKA getting lost on the metro for over an hour), hailing down taxi cabs, bathrooms with keypads, or reading maps, my Floridian soul could not handle the big city life.

Besides all this, I was in DC for the ECAASU’s Youth Leadership Week in tandem with WHIAAPI’s Youth Forum, and ECAASU’s National Board Retreat.  All of these events had me reflecting and pushing my limits and knowledge of who I am now, who I want to be, and where can I go from here. I have learned three key things from my six days in Washington DC:

  1. I am not alone in the fight.
  2. One person can make a difference.
  3. Community can and will be the driving force for change.

These are the three common ideas that bridged the entire week together, at least for me. These ideas helped shaped my growth from who I was to who I want to be.

When I was first thrown down the rabbit hole of social justice, I naturally was angry.

Angry because of injustice.
Angry because no one understood myself and my struggles.
Angry because I felt my voice was silenced.
Angry because of apathy
Angry because everyone told me to be angry.

This internal battle has been a prevalent part of my life for the past year, and within the past few months I have been pushing myself to break my bonds of anger, which has not been easy. In a society that over glorifies being angry as the driving force for change. I felt that without my hatred for the privileged society I would fall into apathy and become what I despised the most, apathetic (which is another story in itself). There was no middle, just extremes. This week, I feel like I can finally say that I can close that door and start a new chapter in my life that is constructive instead of destructive. Building not burning.

The Week

Enough with the intangibles, onto the stories. For various reasons I started the week a day late, so my week started on Tuesday.  I felt that the moment I walked through the door, I belonged. I was thrown into a round table discussion (with a literal round table) about mental health and self care with the wonderful Dr. DJ Ida from NAAPIHMA. It was an uplifting and informal discussion that went into several avenues that lasted two hours longer than it was originally blocked for (so a total of four hours!!). Topics ranged from self care, to being the therapist friend, to harder subjects such as suicide. The dialogue was strongly built on individual stories and experiences, and it had pushed me to think about what I can do on a personal and professional level to promote mental health and self care awareness, as well as being an advocate for others. Without even knowing these people’s names, I learned about their personal struggles, I learned about their friends struggles, and it helped me come to terms with my personal demons.

The next day focused on policy. This was the more of the ‘running around meeting people’ type of day. The morning focused on voting rights, opportunities, and ways to have the APIA community be a collective voice. From there we went to meet Dr. Franklin Odo at the Japanese Memorial and we talked about the stories behind the creation of the memorial, rang gongs, and listened to Dr. Odo being unintentionally sassy. Afterwards we met with APIA leaders on the Hill and their personal stories of how they got to where they are, and what they are doing now. We ended our day at CAPAL with the topic of coalition building and how we can work together as a community.

Thursday was Youth Forum with WHIAAPI. Seeing so many APIA youth come together for a common event was uplifting and inspiring. Not only did we focus on different issues such as immigration, mental health, and education. (They also released their new program which can be found here).We also had dialogue about regional issues (i.e. What are problems the APIA community face in the south opposed to the west coast?), and what can we do to create a positive, sustainable change.

Lastly, Friday we went to the career fair briefly and wandered the town in the morning, and in the evening we as a collective met up again to talk about our personalities. This day, was one of the highlights of the entire week for me. My sense of self was in overdrive and if having an overwhelming sense of clarity was a thing, then that is what I felt. We had the chance to take a professional level personality test. Most of the time when I take these tests, I generally know what I’m going to get: a dominant, extroverted personality that has lots of vision and is way too sarcastic for her own health and needs to calm down. I used to hate personality tests, because they always focused on why I need to change to conform into the ‘perfect’ leader, rather than you are a leader this is your personality, now use what is said here to be more self aware of how your personality effects your decision making, and how it can shape your leadership and collaborative styles. Hearing others’ leadership styles opposed to mine and how they interlocked with each other, truly helped me grow as a leader in my own community.

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ECAASU Commends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s Decision to Reaffirm the University of Texas at Austin’s Undergraduate Admissions Policy

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) commends the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision to reaffirm the University of Texas at Austin’s he U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision to reaffirm the University of Texas at Austin’s undergraduate admissions policy that uses race as a factor. This decision ensures diversity, which is integral for the learning experience on college campuses.

In June 2008, a Texas student named Abigail Fisher, a white student, was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin and filed suit against the university. She filed suit because she felt that she had been a victim of racial discrimination due to students of color with less impressive credentials than hers had been admitted. Last summer, the Supreme Court voided the lower appellate court’s ruling in favor of the university and remanded the case, holding that the lower could did not apply the proper standard of strict scrutiny.

Since ECAASU was founded, we have stood in solidarity with traditionally underrepresented communities. In 2013, ECAASU signed on as amici to an amicus brief submitted by Asian Americans Advancing Justice in support of diversity and utilizing race as a factor in college admissions. A fitting explanation of why ECAASU is in favor of this ruling is best explained by the President of UT-Austin, Bill Powers. “This ruling ensures that our campus, our state and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events and in all aspects of campus life.

We hope to see continued strides in the direction of diversity and inclusion throughout all institutions of academia.

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Happy Father’s Day!

Jun 15 2014
By: Cynthia
Categories: Blog
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Introduction: This past week I saw a Buzzfeed article entitled “19 Things You Won’t See Dads Do in Public,” which made me think about my Dad (aka “Poppa Fink”) and how many of those things he’s actually done in public when I was growing up. I thought about how awesome/chill/amazing he was and had an idea to do highlight the Fathers of the ECAASU National Board members.

The Board of Directors recently just welcomed the 2014-2015 National Board. There is no way that of these 30 individuals, their fathers did not influence some of them to become the amazing activists that they all are. So in honor of our dads on Father’s Day, we want to share with you how our dads break the model minority myth.

-Nicole Fink, Board of Directors

As I sit here writing this post and eating a late breakfast, my dad has already been up for four hours shepherding around 11, yes, 11, middle school boys (my brother had a sleepover party last night), cleaning the pool and supervising the boys while they swim, and after they were all picked up, resuming his gardening as usual.

Needless to say, fathers do a lot, and often to little recognition. So today, we at ECAASU have rounded up a few stories about our fathers and the hard work they have put forth defying stereotypes, exceeding expectations, and all-in-all setting the standards that we strive to meet.

I hope that you all will enjoy these stories as much as we enjoyed sharing them. Happy Father’s Day!

——–

From Danny Qiao, Campus Ambassador Coordinator; the Practice What You Preach Dad:

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my dad. He instilled responsibility and provided the proper foundation for growth and leadership. He is also so humble about all his successes and ability, which encourages me to follow in his gentle footsteps. I can only wish to grow up to be half the man he is now, but he is the ideal that I strive to reach.

From Max Nikoolkan, Asian American Studies Initiative Manager; the Does His Own Thing Dad:

My father is a funny man. He has this large rotund beer belly, a lasting artifact proudly exhibiting his love for partying as he studied Fine Arts in Thailand. His broken English is endearing, more so when he laughs at how bad it is with room-resounding laughter. I know there’s a picture of him at home, showing off an Afro he grew out when he first came to America. Now, with his hair cut short and a slightly unkempt graying beard, he is practically Santa Claus’s ethnically Asian brother.

In Thailand, he is Surasak Neng Thitijumnong, the watercolor artist from Silpakorn University. In Virginia, he is a restaurant chef that makes Thai food. When at work he tells me the food he makes follows standards set by the head chef. At home, the food he cooks is strikingly beautiful, like he decided to paint every dish with a brushstroke matching every beat from his heart.

A painting by Max's father.

A painting by Max’s father.

After my mother passed away from kidney cancer while I was in college, he began wearing those T-shirts that teenagers buy with quirky slogans or witty comments. His favorite shirt is an XL shirt with cooking stains that reads, “I’m Naked Under this T-Shirt.” It’s embarrassing for me, though everyone else has found it endearing. Now a widower, my father is still a very funny man. More importantly, he is the father who has never given up. Entrenched in poverty as a child, he stole often from markets to feed his eight brothers and one sister. He moved to America on a whim and an art degree. But he has lived and loved every step of the journey, without regrets and without spite. The APIA community has this mythological image of Tiger Moms and Dragon Dads, strict parents that pressure their children in every facet possible so that they may succeed in all the ways the parents could not.

I have never felt such pressure from my father. He is, at the end of the day, just my Asian Santa Claus.

From Alice Tsui, Arts and Education Coordinator; the Happy As Can Be Dad:

My dad is the happiest person I know. Ever since I was a kid, he has always been laughing, smiling and being positive about life. When he talks about me to his friends, he tells them “my daughter does what she loves – music.” He never pressured me to pursue any typical APIA career path, and I have my dad’s support with me in all that I do. And that support, plus his amazing cooking, means the world to me.

From Nicole Fink, Board of Directors; the Cool As A Cucumber Dad:

Poppa Fink is pretty awesome. I’m not kidding. The man has more knowledge about popular culture and social media than I do (so embarrassing I know, my Dad is cooler than I am). The man takes selfies of his own accord. Seriously. He works a full-time job, but also does the cooking and cleaning when Momma Fink has to work at night or on the weekend.  He once danced Gangnam style in public (okay more than once, let’s be honest). But despite his silliness, this is the man who built me a farm bed for my very first apartment because all the bed frames were too big for my tiny room. The man who drags my mom up to Boston for the day to fix my printer because I broke it (normally around finals time) and then had a panic/anxiety attack about how much it’d cost me to print all my notes for finals to him on the phone.

Nicole and her father.

Nicole and her father.

But my dad is not your typical Asian dad. He’s no “tiger dad.” Poppa Fink actually is one-half of a team (the other half being Momma Fink) who encourages me to break the bamboo ceiling. He never pressured me to become a doctor and has embraced my future career in public interest. He has taught me to be assertive, and to not take “no” for an answer. He is not silent or obedient like traditional Asian American stereotypes. To be honest, Poppa Fink can raise some serious hell. And my dad can’t be the only Asian American dad who is a bad ass.

From Cynthia Luo, Blog Editor; the DIY Dad:

One thing I am incredibly grateful to my father for is the high expectations he has always set for me. From a young age to now, I have always been told and reminded that I am capable and independent. One of the stereotypes of APIA parents is pressure for their children to get married and have children, but this has never been an expectation for me. Instead, it was get a good education and a great career and do the best you can. He has always encouraged me to fix my own problems (though always offering help when needed) by setting the same examples. My dad fixes everything that’s needed around, outside, and inside the house, and it’s from him that I have my unrelenting stubbornness that with a bit of elbow grease and brainstorming, I can fix anything.

My father and I

My father and I

From Daniel Hoddinott, Advocacy Director: the Endless Encouragement Dad

One thing that I am extremely grateful for to my father for is that he gave me the opportunity to live the life that my biological mother wanted and for letting me make my own mistakes. As a Korean adoptee I was born into a single, high school mother that loved me more than anything. Unfortunately she was unable to care for me the way that she wanted because she was heading to college and my biological father left her after he found out about the pregnancy and she couldn’t tell her family. She made the hardest choice a parent can make and gave her first child away. My father (and mother) provided me with what my biological mother wanted. They provided me with happiness. He never pushed me to do something because it would impress others or look good on a college application but instead encouraged me do things because I wanted to. He never forced perfection onto me but instead encouraged me to do my best in everything and to always offer help to others. My father would let me make mistakes so that I could grow and one day become a man just like him. I celebrate Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) as a celebration for my parents. I have unmeasurable gratitude for all that they have sacrificed so that I would have the opportunity at the pursuit of happiness. Everything I do is for them and I hope one day I can somehow repay a fraction of everything that they have done for me. Love you dad!

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Remembering Yuri Kochiyama

Jun 09 2014
By: Cynthia
Categories: Blog
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“Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society.” – Yuri Kochiyama

The fact that I have had nearly twenty years of schooling is very disappointing when I consider that I had never heard of Yuri Kochiyama until my involvement with ECAASU. Despite several units dedicated to the civil rights movement, despite even teaching the civil rights movement, I had not realized the extent to which APIA liberation is tied to and involved with others’ liberations.

For those who don’t know, Kochiyama had a rich history and background in her dedication towards social justice. She is most well known for a photograph in the Times of her and Malcolm X, right after he was shot. But there’s much more to Kochiyama than just an image. Her actions were as great as any other civil rights leader.

What is the most incredible is how easily Kochiyama fell into social justice. Though she didn’t necessarily seek this out, it’s her sort of accidental foray into activism that really resonates with me.

“I didn’t wake up and decide to become an activist,” she told the Dallas Morning News in 2004. “But you couldn’t help notice the inequities, the injustices. It was all around you.” (Elaine Woo, for the LA Times)

I too, didn’t wake up one morning and decide to seek change. But every small moment of catcalling, or racial joke, or homophobic remark made me cringe, and wonder if that needed to be true. What I’ll remember the most is that all actions count, and that there is no limitation to doing the right thing.

There weren’t any limits to Kochiyama’s issues, either. What I loved the most was how she was willing to fight for any cause she deemed unjust, and her continued dedication to social justice even through her nineties.

Kochiyama’s death is a loss, but also a learning opportunity. We should actively seek out and recognize such crusaders when they’re alive, instead of waiting to memorialize them after their death.

Let’s ensure that Kochiyama’s legacy is never forgotten. When we talk about equality and movements, let’s remember that everybody can play a role, and that one of us cannot be free while another is oppressed.

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Sexual Assault and Our Communities

Apr 30 2014
By: Cynthia
Categories: Blog, Uncategorized
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April was Sexual Assault Awareness month, and as it draws to a close, it’s important for us all to remember that it’s an issue that needs discussion and attention all year long–not just April.

While certainly men can be victims of sexual assault (domestic and in general), women are predominantly the targets. In particular, this post will be about violence against women of color.

For APIA women, 40-60% of report having faced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. This is higher than any other races, according to a report published in 2007 by the API Institute on Domestic Violence and the APIA Health Forum. Within ethnicities, the numbers vary but are staggeringly high, especially among undocumented women of all races, due to their immigration status being often held against them. There are often cultural or language barriers regarding the reporting of intimate partner violence as well. Let this be a reminder that the only person responsible for violence is the perpetrator–not the victim.

For more information on how domestic violence in particular affects APIA women, check out this fact sheet compiled by ECAASU’s advocacy team.

Additionally, objectification and stereotypes play a huge role in the violence against women of color. From the “porcelain doll” stereotype of APIA women,  the “Indian princess” stereotype of Native women, or the “jungle fever,” animalistic stereotype of Black women, all women of color, at some point, have probably heard these stereotypes used against them. Racism and sexism intertwine to make violence against women of color an even more pressing issue.

As I began this post, there was also a lot of conversation surrounding attempts to combat these stereotypes, namely with the hashtags #NotYourAsianSidekick and #NotYourMascot. I mostly watched the streams of these hashtags and participated tangentially, as I have a tendency towards verbosity and am still working on making my writing Twitter friendly. Regardless of my own ability to use hashtags, I found a lot of great participation and insight with both hashtags, from people of all races and genders. And that reminded me that at the end of the day, it is important that we remember that issues don’t exist in isolation. We can’t remedy racism without addressing sexism.

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First let me take a #selfie

Apr 17 2014
By: Cynthia
Categories: Blog
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Check out ECAASU National Board members (including our social media expert from which I shamelessly stole this post title from, as well as yours truly :D) talking about why we are involved in APIA issues, and why YOU should be too!

 

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