ECAASU Statement on Recent Safety Concerns in North Carolina

ECAASU is committed to protecting our conference attendees and creating an inclusive space for all identities. In recent months, North Carolina has become a battleground for marginalized communities and people may feel unsafe coming to our conference located in Raleigh. With issues ranging from HB-2 to voter restriction laws to talks about a Muslim registry, North Carolina has created a political climate aimed to suppress and silence our voices. Comprised of a diverse group of students within the state, the conference team has experienced and witnessed the oppression and discriminatory actions of the state government. With that understanding of concern for our fellow attendees, the conference team has implemented several safeguards and strategies.

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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 undergraduate admissions policy that uses race as a factor. This decision ensures diversity, which is integral for the learning experience on college campuses.

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"Kill All Chinese" Comment on Jimmy Kimmel

Written by Diane Wong

ECAASU commends ABC News for issuing a formal apology following the “Kill all the Chinese” comment aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live during its “Kid’s Table” skit on October 16th, 2013. The unscripted jab from a 6-year-old suggested that in the face of the recent government shutdown, we should “kill all the Chinese” to avoid paying our debt to China. The comment was repeated by Kimmel, and reiterated in a group discussion with other children parodying US politicians. This distasteful, offensive rhetoric has outraged numerous Asian-Americans, as well as Chinese communities around the world.

“We would never purposefully broadcast anything to upset the Chinese community, Asian community, anyone of Chinese descent or any community at large,” read a statement signed by ABC Entertainment executive vice-president Lisa Berger. Tim McNeal who is in charge of ABC’s talent and diversity branch made note that ABC has removed the particular section of the segment from all social media platforms and that the comment has been edited out for all future airings of the episode.

While publicly apologizing to 80/20 protestors in person and during his show on October 28th, Jimmy Kimmel made it clear that he did not intend to appear in agreement with the “Kill all the Chinese” comment. He apologized for any hurt feelings that were caused by the remark and expressed deep remorse for the incident. Although Kimmel and ABC Network apologized, we hope that going forward, the show will provide culturally sensitive material and take heed many of the sound suggestions that have been made from fellow organizations and individuals.

Justice for Trayvon Martin

Written by June Kao

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) stands in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, his family, and the many others who have called for his killer to be brought to justice. George Zimmerman’s acquittal is reflective of a system that, time and time again, has failed to protect the rights of individuals targeted as a result of discrimination. It is a reminder that we need to continue to work harder to ensure that prejudice has no place in our legal system and society.

While some have claimed that this case has nothing to do with race, we do not live in a post-racial society. Trayvon’s story plays into a larger narrative of discrimination and racial imbalance across the country today, as racial profiling is institutionalized through biased application of “stand your ground” and other laws. Trayvon’s death and the failure of the legal system to bring him justice are not isolated incidents, but symptoms of a pervasive problem in our society.

As advocates for the AAPI community, we are responsible for challenging prejudice and racial profiling within our society regardless of whom it is leveled against. We will not forget Trayvon Martin, and will do our best to ensure that his fight for justice is not over.

For the whitehouse.gov petition calling for prosecution of George Zimmerman by the Department of Justice, follow this link: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/civil-rights-prosecution-george-zimmerman-united-states-department-justice-death-trayvon-martin/LkGHz0VH

For the NAACP petition for the Department of Justice to file charges against George Zimmerman, follow the link below (Currently crashed due to heavy traffic, will update if it is back up): http://www.naacp.org/page/s/doj-civil-rights-petition

 

Voting Acts Rights Decision

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is deeply saddened by the Supreme Court Decision to strike down key a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In a 5-to-4 vote on Tuesday, the Supreme Court effectively invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act which now allows states and local governments to pass voting laws without federal approval.

As evidenced from the recent election cycles, a number of state and local governments have introduced restrictive voting laws that include mandatory photo identification procedures, massive voter purges, shortened early voting periods, proof of citizenship mandates, and other preventative measures veiled in an attempt to prevent voter fraud. It is undeniable that these restrictive voting laws disproportionately impact the elderly, minority, low-income, disabled, and other traditionally underrepresented groups. We encourage our advocates to continue to educate our communities to ensure that all voters are protected.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Decisions

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) applauds the Supreme Court’s historic decision on June 26, 2013 to strike down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to married same-sex couples who are legally married in states they reside. We also applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down California’s Prop 8 ban on gay marriage. Both of these decisions reverberates the dreams and promises of justice, civil rights, and equal treatment for all people to be treated the same–regardless of whom they choose to spend their lives with. ECAASU hopes that these decisions stand firm as a landmark precedent for continued support and recognition of same-sex marriage and couples and LGBTQ rights. Now is the time to stand in solidarity for marriage equality and to continue pushing forward this critical movement.

Supreme Court Decisions on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) applauds the Supreme Court’s decision to send the case Fisher v. University of Texas Austin back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In an nearly unanimous decision (7-1), the Court argues that the admissions policy of University were not assessed properly by the lower court, and therefore must be re-evaluated. ECAASU hopes that with this re-evaluation, the lower courts can deem this policy as being essential to promoting diversity, and breaking down social boundaries on campus. Since our founding, ECAASU has stood in solidarity with traditionally underrepresented communities to support affirmative action.

Official Statement on President Obama's Immigration Reform Proposal

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) applauds President Obama’s recent immigration reform proposal, which primarily aims to create a more efficient pathway to earned citizenship – especially for the student population.

Encouraging undocumented youth to gain citizenship, the proposal allows young DREAMers who serve two years in the Army or earn a college degree to go through an expedited citizenship process without punishment. Students with a STEM Master’s and PhD degrees who have found employment in the U.S. will also be granted green card status. President Obama also seeks to reward entrepreneurship by giving “startup visas” and the chance to remain permanently to create more jobs for the American economy.

Given that almost two-thirds of all AAPIs today are born outside of the United States, President Obama’s educationally focused pathways to citizenship rewards talented AAPI students who can help grow the U.S. economy, job market, and competence in STEM fields. President Obama also prioritizes the preservation of families through the recognition of same-sex marriage in the family-sponsored immigration system. However, those who knowingly entered the U.S. without documentation must pay a series of fines and undergo a series of background checks before they are legally allowed to work.Although President Obama’s plan does not specify the amount of penalty fees, paying them all before gaining legal provisional status to work can certainly prove difficult for many families, even outside the AAPI community. As a result, it is our continued responsibility to help the AAPI community overcome the hurdles the imperfect immigration system still poses.

See the fact sheet on President Obama’s immigration reform proposal.

ECAASU is committed to advancing the social equality of minorities by eliminating prejudice and discrimination, defending human and civil rights, and bringing awareness regarding issues affecting the AAPI community.

 

 

Danny Chen Trials

The courtroom itself wasn’t at all too special. The high paneled walls extended over our heads, six lamps curved like raindrops hung from the walls, and the spectator seats were packed with Asian Americans. There was one main difference though: there was no jury. Only a stoic judge who, in a soft but stern voice, presided over the course of Offutt vs. The United States, the second case prosecuting those who had contributed to the abuse, hazing, and finally, the suicide of Private Danny Chen who was only nineteen years old when he took his own life with his pistol while on guard duty, with the words “Tell my parents I’m sorry” hastily scribbled on his forearm.

Although the meticulously researched evidence stacked up against Specialist Ryan Offutt was beneficial for the prosecution’s argument, the tactics used in the trial were disconcerting. While the defense called upon five witnesses to testify how Specialist Ryan Offutt’s actions deviated from his character that had supposedly existed before his deployment to Afghanistan, to explain how Offutt had to pay child support for his ex-wife, and to elaborate on the less privileged background that he had grown up in, the prosecution focused mainly upon the fact that Chen’s punishments he served were abusive, excessive, and had “no real military purpose.” It was an apt summary of cruel actions which constituted as hazing, but there was no counter to the defense’s claims that Offutt had a life to lead—Private Danny Chen wasn’t even allowed to begin his life due to the actions of his superiors. The court used Danny like a prop, ignoring the human element haunting the entire trial: that a nineteen year old from Manhattan with his future clutched in his grasp had taken his own life. He was instead just another soldier, frequently bullied to the point of exhaustion by a group of men who deserved to be punished for their serious lack of leadership. But as the prosecution stated, in this specific instance Offutt had “add[ed] insult to injury” and “deserves the stigma of a dishonorable conduct discharge.”
Offutt was penalized for his crimes with six months in prison, reduction to E1 (which basically reduces his pay benefits), and a bad conduct discharge, which practically ends any hope of a future military career. In comparison Adam Holcomb, the first man sentenced for Private Danny Chen’s suicide, received only a miniscule fine of roughly one thousand dollars and a month of imprisonment for his more substantial involvement.

While this verdict might seem sufficient, it isn’t enough. It doesn’t reflect the justice that a negligent homicide deserves, but it’s an improvement from the previous trial. It represents a welcome shift in the opinions of both the courts and the media on the case, which gives me hope for the future treatment of Asian Americans in military service and beyond. I envision a world where malicious actions are treated as such, where men take an actively positive leadership role, where a Lord of the Flies-like situation in the military can be quickly and easily addressed with effect policies. But for today, we are left with the likes of Offutt, whose lack of initiative and emotional maturity led to him inflicting his rage upon a Chinese-American nineteen year old cast from home—a man barely older than a boy, lonely and out of his element in the foreign soils of Afghanistan’s most dangerous border.

Official Statement on Private Danny Chen Trials

The ECAASU: East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is beyond disbelief by the acquittal of Sgt. Adam Holcomb in relation to the Pvt. Danny Chen suicide case. During his deployment in Afghanistan, Chen allegedly shot himself to death on October 3, 2011 following a period of being taunted with racial slurs during training and being subjected to severe hazing from fellow soldiers. On the day Chen committed suicide, Holcomb was accused of dragging Chen over a gravel path while using racial slurs and hateful language such as “Dragon Lady”, “chink”, and “gook”. Holcomb was acquitted in a military trial of the most serious charges he faced, which included negligent homicide, reckless endangerment, communicating a threat, and hazing. The panel of ten service members recommended Holcomb’s sentence to 30 days confinement, a reduction in rank, and loss of a month’s worth of pay — totaling $1,181.55.It is disheartening to discover that the life of an Asian American soldier is worth only $1,181.55. Pvt. Danny Chen’s suicide case should serve to us all as an important reminder that racism, bigotry, and hazing in the military should not be tolerated. This is not justice, and ECAASU stands firmly in solidarity with Pvt. Danny Chen and his family.

In response to these recent developments, ECAASU is co-sponsoring a rally in New York City on August 11 along with OCA-NY at 2PM at Columbus Park. We have also asked our supporters to contribute a single word to describe what being Asian America(n) means today. From these responses, we have put together a Wordle, or word cloud of the most frequent responses, which we hope will help to transcend prevalent negative stereotypes of Asian Americans, and to illuminate the diversity of our community.

Sikh Temple Shooting

The East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU) is deeply saddened by the news of the shooting that occurred at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin today. We will be keeping the community of Oak Creek in our hearts and thoughts as further information about this heartbreaking act of violence, that claimed the lives of at least seven individuals, unfolds. Since the tragedy of 9/11, there has been reported over 700 bias-based attacks on Sikhs living in the United States. The resilience, kindness, and strength of the Sikh community reminds us all that as Asian Americans, we must stand together in solidarity and support throughout this time of sorrow.