Tag Archives: racism

Casual to Deadly: Anti-Asian American Racism from Racism Review

Private Danny Chen dead from anti-Asian racism military JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

Private Danny Chen

“Why are Asian Americans disproportionately targeted for abuse?

A harmonic convergence of factors. There’s the perception — and in some cases, the reality — of the “nerd” stereotype. The trinity of social awkwardness, physical frailty and academic overachievement has always served as a magnet for bullies.

There’s the rising tide of animosity toward immigrants, particularly those from predominantly countries that are seen as emerging rivals of the United States, like China and India.

There’s the plain old fact that those who are “different” in obvious ways — appearance, name, faith, accent — are often the focus of unwanted attention in environments where fitting in is prized, like high school. Or the military.

And especially among immigrants and the children of immigrants, there’s the reality that cultural and familial expectations push them to submit to bullying rather than being “disruptive” or succumbing to “distraction.” from CNN

 

My Twitter friend @CalvinHyj had retweeted this from Racism Review. I have to say that after I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about Private Danny Chen all day, and reading the article put a knot in my stomach. My husband just sent me this link to CNN by Jeff Yang:  Opinion: What the deaths of two soldiers say about anti-Asian bullying which gives further insight into this incident and another suicide from bullying to  Lance Corporal Harry Lew.

I grew up in a beach town in Southern California, with about a 9% Asian American population. Now, I live in a suburb of Boston, and again — deliberately — with about a 9% Asian population. Yet, I still experienced a few incidences of racism — in 7th grade someone called me a Jap. This probably coincided with studying WWII but I can’t really remember.  When I came to Boston in the late 1980s, I remember going to the Boston Public Library and a black kid yelled racial slurs at me. My boyfriend at the time was with me. He is also Asian American but from Queens and commuted to NYC every day for school. This was child’s play for him and it didn’t even phase him. I was angry but passive.

These days, I do not experience racism, and so this article really stunned me.

How about you? What do you make of this article and how does this fit into your world? Would you discourage your child from entering the military in general? How about after reading this article. Please share.

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By Jessie

From casual to pandering to deadly, there have been several disturbing reports about anti-Asian American racism in the news. In the more casual forms of racism, it seems that the whole using someone’s name as a way to retrieve an order at fast food places has gone horribly awry. About a month ago a Chick-Fil-A cashier at a store in Irvine, California assigned racist names to two customers and even typed them into the printed receipts (images here). And, just in the past few days, a woman went into a Papa John’s pizza chain in New York City and got called a racist name on her receipt (see that receipt here). Here’s an idea – maybe we could just go back to the “we’ll call your number when your order is ready?” system.

AngryAsianGrrlMN sums this up well when she writes:

This is the kind of casual racism that isn’t talked about, but that Asian people deal with on a regular basis.  We are the invisible minority, and we rarely get the kind of attention that other minorities do.

I’ll just state the obvious here and point out that these incidents didn’t happen in the distant past or some rural backwater, but in supposedly tolerant, cosmopolitan urban areas in the present, putatively post-racial era.

The pandering form of anti-Asian American racism is coming through, not surprisingly, the presidential campaign. John Huntsman, Republican candidate and former Ambassador to China, is fluent in Mandarin and, rather remarkably, spoke Chinese during the Republican presidential debate recently.  Huntsman and his wife have also adopted children from China and India.  All this “foreign-ness” has proven too tempting for some of his political opponents who are using these facts to pander to peoples’ racism and xenophobia.  As AngryAsianMan notes:

“It’s an election year, so you know what time it is. Racist campaign ads! This latest gem is from someone claiming to be a Ron Paul supporter, attacking Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman for his un-American” values. … Here we go with another round of equating China with all things evil. Complete with an extra Oriental soundtrack — never has Mandarin made to sound so sinister. [This video] is one of the most unabashedly racist attack ads we’ve seen in a while.

The ad asks whether Huntsman’s values are “American” values or Chinese?  And, then rather sinisterly photoshops Huntsman into a portrait of Chinese leader Mao Zedong while thoroughly mixing the fear-mongering metaphors and comparing him to the “Manchurian Candidate.” This kind of strategy is what some people refer to as “dog whistle racism,” in other words, political campaigning  that uses coded words and themes that appeal to conscious or unconscious racist concepts and frames. For example, the terms ‘welfare queen,’ ’states’ rights,’ ‘Islamic terrorist,’ ‘uppity,’ and ‘illegal alien’ all activate racist concepts that already exist within a broader white racial frame.

Among the most disturbing news are the details that are emerging surrounding the death of Private Danny Chen in October, 2011. Chen, 19, grew up in New York City’s Chinatown, and is thought to have committed suicide in Afghanistan after enduring racial taunts and bullying (although some now question whether it was suicide at all). A group of his superiors allegedly tormented Chen on an almost daily basis over the course of about six weeks in Afghanistan last fall. They singled him out, their only Chinese-American soldier, and spit racial slurs at him: “gook,” “chink,” “dragon lady.” They forced him to do sprints while carrying a sandbag. They ordered him to crawl along gravel-covered ground while they flung rocks at him. And one day, when his unit was assembling a tent, he was forced to wear a green hard-hat and shout out instructions to his fellow soldiers in Chinese.ethnic slurs. At other times, they forced him to do push-ups or hang upside down with his mouth full of water.

New York Magazine has an extensive piece about Chen’s experience, including his letters home from the military.  Here’s some of what he wrote to his parents:

“Everyone knows me because I just noticed, I’m the only chinese guy in the platoon,” he wrote home. His fellow recruits called him Chen Chen, Jackie Chan, and Ling Ling. But, he added, “Don’t worry, no one picks on me … I’m the skinniest guy and weigh the least here but … people respect me for not quitting.”

Four weeks later, the Asian jokes hadn’t stopped. “They ask if I’m from China like a few times day,” he wrote. “They also call out my name (chen) in a goat like voice sometimes for no reason. No idea how it started but now it’s just best to ignore it. I still respond though to amuse them. People crack jokes about Chinese people all the time, I’m running out of jokes to come back at them.”

The eight men later charged in connection with his death are all white and range in age from 24 to 35; they include one lieutenant, two staff sergeants, three sergeants, and two specialists. Danny’s parents, of course, are inconsolable at the loss of their only son.

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Asian Americans and Admissions at Brown University

Brown University Ivy League Discrimination against Asians Asian Americans JadeLuckClub http://JadeLuckClub.comThis is from the horse’s mouth. Ivy League college Brown University and their admissions policies with regard to Asian Americans. If you want to read more on why you shouldn’t identify as Asian American when applying to elite private colleges or grad schools, please go here.

Here are some key quotes:

Only two groups of people believe discrimination is a nuanced issue: racists and college admissions officers. But this characterization is unfair to racists—admissions officers are far worse.To compare, one group openly believes Asian-Americans are inferior. The other, more sinister group, proclaims their allegiance to the highest American ideals while systematically depriving Asians of future avenues for success.

…athletes applying to elite colleges gain 200 points on the (old) SAT, Hispanics gain 185 points, legacy candidates gain 160 points, and blacks have a staggering 230 point advantage.

An important 2004 study by Princeton researchers, Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, found that applying to America’s best universities as an Asian-American is equivalent to taking off 50 points from your SAT score.

Because they can’t touch the whites, a “merit tax” is levied on qualified Asian-Americans in order to benefit other, less qualified, minorities. 

 …the study’s finding that affirmative action has little impact on white admission rates comes as a surprise.

 

Asian-Americans in Admissions

By Jason Carr on July 7, 2009

Only two groups of people believe discrimination is a nuanced issue: racists and college admissions officers. But this characterization is unfair to racists—admissions officers are far worse. To compare, one group openly believes Asian-Americans are inferior. The other, more sinister group, proclaims their allegiance to the highest American ideals while systematically depriving Asians of future avenues for success.

Asians are doing too well for their own good, at least in the view of the gatekeepers of the Ivory Tower. Hard working, family oriented students whose ancestors hail from the East have been snapping up coveted spots at the country’s most elite universities at an increasing rate for the past two decades. According to Daniel Golden, author of The Price of Admission, “Asian-Americans constitute only about 4.5% of the U.S. population, they typically account for anywhere from 10% to 30% of students at many of the nation’s elite colleges.” Yet even these impressive numbers represent a deliberate attempt by the colleges to buttress their ivy-covered walls against an Asian Invasion. An important 2004 study by Princeton researchers, Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, found that applying to America’s best universities as an Asian-American is equivalent to taking off 50 points from your SAT score.

Why punish success? The guaranteed answer to be heard from admissions directors when asked this difficult question is either a “no comment” or an ambiguous regurgitation of the institution’s supposed anti-discrimination policy. The truth, that Asian-Americans are being used as fodder in an admissions process dogmatically focused on achieving its racist campus image goals, is too embarrassing for these bleeding-heart colleges to admit. The study mentioned above proved that athletes applying to elite colleges gain 200 points on the (old) SAT, Hispanics gain 185 points, legacy candidates gain 160 points, and blacks have a staggering 230 point advantage. The main problem for universities (and especially the Ivies) is that legacies and athletes, both desired admits for their financial benefits, are disproportionately white. Yet, these same universities would also like to make sure that proportionate numbers of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are in their classrooms. Because they can’t touch the whites, a “merit tax” is levied on qualified Asian-Americans in order to benefit other, less qualified, minorities. In the most terrifying perversion of “racial justice” seen yet, one minority is being plundered for the sake of another, but the true historical discrimination culprits, whites, remain untouched. Until you realize these underlying motivations, the study’s finding that affirmative action has little impact on white admission rates comes as a surprise.

When admissions officers aren’t making empty statements about their concern for diversity, they have a few other explanations to provide for the lower Asian admit rate. According to one former Brown admission officer:

One of the traits of incoming Asian-American applicant pools is uniformity. There’s a striking similarity from applicant to applicant in terms of the choices they make for extra-curricular activities, for example, or course loads, but most importantly, for intended majors.

There are countless reports of admission officers saying that Asians, due to their incredible academic dedication, are not able to contribute to university life in other ways. It appears that Asians are not trying hard enough to diversify their interests.” After all, according to Brown Dean of Admission James S. Miller, the University works to achieve, “selection by a personal estimate of character on the part of the Admission authorities, based on the probable value to the college and to the community of his admission.”

But the above quote is actually from 1926, and the speaker wasn’t James S. Miller. Rather, the individual who uttered these words was A. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard University, that rabidly anti-Semitic institution of yore. As Jerome Karabel, author of The Chosen reveals, Lowell limited the size of the freshman class and imposed new admission criteria of “leadership,” “public spirit,” and “fair play” in order to correct the “Jewish problem” to which Columbia had already succumbed. Jews, stereotyped as overly studious and socially uninterested, were thought not to exhibit any of these qualities (sound familiar?). Yale was even more up front in its battle against the Hebrews: they instituted legacy preferences in 1925 to favor the WASP students they were comfortable with. The Jews were limited so long as legacy preferences and the ambiguous admission criteria stayed, and other elite universities followed in lockstep.

It is a damnable irony that, after the eventual lifting of Jewish quotas, the same admissions preferences used to discriminate against them would be employed against the next most successful group, Asian-Americans. The new “Asian problem” is an especially tricky one for colleges, for they cannot be neatly filed into the “white” category. Colleges are being forced to employ their greatest skills in order to keep the Asians down: stereotyping, discrimination, and rejection.

While it appears that admissions directors believe Asians have a genetic predisposition to studiousness and unsociability, I have a more informed explanation. If Asian students know that they are already being discriminated against, at home and on their college applications, isn’t it rational for them to work that much harder to achieve success in a world biased against them? Asian parents drive their children to spend long hours studying because they know what they are up against. The results of this may be a small lack of social skills, but this is not a result of the student’s race, just his circumstances.

And what of this supposed uniformity in majors and extracurricular activities? Asian-Americans are often recent immigrants, and have a wide distribution of income. Immigrants seek the best ways to prove themselves in a new land; this naturally leads to intense interest in mathematics, physics, biology, and other sciences because these disciplines produce real, quantifiable results that members of an oppressed minority can point to as conclusive evidence of their success. Asian-Americans have excelled in more than just the sciences, however. They are over-represented (despite discrimination) at the nation’s top law and business schools — places that are often the destination of college liberal arts majors.

A case study in alleged uniformity across the Asian applicant pool is provided with UC Berkeley before and after racial preferences were lifted. Berkeley experienced a dramatic increase in the number of Asian-American students in its classrooms – at the moment they constitute 47 percent of the student body – soon after Proposition 209 outlawed affirmative action in California. As it is highly doubtful that Berkeley, the best public university in the United States, filled 47 percent of its class with (according to their racist stereotype) biology majors who play the piano, it can be inferred that many in this group have a passionate interest in history, classics, and other such disciplines, as well as wide extracurricular attainments. The Berkeley case illustrates that the only uniformity that can be seen in Asian-American applicants to colleges is academic excellence across all fields.

The great unspoken crime of Asian-American discrimination in college admissions is not just the obvious numerical limits on the group: American universities are joining a long line of individuals, companies, and governments who have deemed Asians subhuman for centuries. From the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad to Japanese internment camps, America’s Asian relations have not been honorable. Curtailing racist attitudes and stereotypical labeling of Asian-American applicants to college can only be the first step in a long process of atonement. Let us hope that the officers in our esteemed universities do not allow their greed to interfere with their duty as human beings.

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Anti Asian American Racism Perpetrated by Other Minority Groups: Black Racism by Ying Ma

Black African American Racism against Asian Americans JadeLuckClub Jade Luck Club

If you are a minority, can you be racist?

This is a thorny topic that Asian American activists don’t want to talk about: racism by African Americans in inner cities across America against Asian Americans. Because I grew up in a suburb of California, I personally am not familiar with this but I have to say that since I have been blogging about how Asian Americans are discriminated against by elite private colleges and universities, the most extreme responses from my alumni group (Harvard Alumni in LinkedIn) have come from the African Americans who find the success of Asian Americans to be very threatening in the college admissions arena.

Ying Ma’s article is very interesting in that it sums up what is most Asian about all of us: we Asian Americans are culturally raised to be  non-confrontational whether this means ignoring vicious bullying to not acknowledging racism from another minority group. Even our activists are intimated into silence, acceptance and/or denial that African Americans harbor resentment of Asian Americans which manifests into bullying, harassment and acts of violence. Could it be that African Americans prejudice stems from our “Model Minority” success that reflects back on them, making them look bad? Or just that a minority group that is successful is to be resented? Will Latino Americans also receive this same treatment as they continue to improve their economic status?

What do you think of this article? Have you been the target of black racism? Do you think this exists? Do you think it should be acknowledged and confronted? Do you find that this is subject that makes Asian American leaders very squirmy and uncomfortable? Is this idea that minorities unite against racism a pipe dream? Please comment!

 

Nov/Dec/1998 Fresh Thinking About Race in America

Black Racism
by Ying Ma

In what passes for discussions on race these days, small problems are often blown up large, while real traumas are completely ignored. For instance, despite what President Clinton’s “Race Initiative” panel has said, the very rawest racial conflicts in present-day America don’t even fit into the tidy mold of white-majority-oppressing-colored-minority that activists constantly promote. Though civil rights groups and most of the media studiously ignore this fact, the nations most fractious racial battles are now conflicts between minority populations. Particularly horrific is the animosity directed at Asian Americans by blacks in low-income areas of urban America .

At age ten, I immigrated from China to Oakland , California , a city filled with crime, poverty, and racial tension. In elementary school, I didn’t wear name-brand clothing or speak English. My name soon became “Ching Chong,” “Chinagirl,” and “Chow Mein.” Other children laughed at my language, my culture, my ethnicity, and my race. I said nothing.

After a few years, I began to speak English, but not well enough to trade racial insults. On rides home from school I avoided the back of the bus so as not to be beaten up. But even when I sat in the front, fire crackers, paper balls, small rocks, and profanity were thrown at me and the other “stupid Chinamen.” The label “Chinamen” was dished out indiscriminately to Vietnamese, Koreans, and other Asians. When I looked around, I saw that the other “Chinamen” tuned out the insults by eagerly discussing movies, friends, and school.

During my secondary school years, racism, and then the combination of outrage and bitterness that it fosters, accompanied me home on the bus every day. My English was by now more fluent than that of those who insulted me, but most of the time I still said nothing to avoid being beaten up. In addition to everything else thrown at me, a few times a week I was the target of sexual remarks vulgar enough to make Howard Stern blush. When I did respond to the insults, I immediately faced physical threats or attacks, along with the embarrassing fact that the other “Chinamen” around me simply continued their quiet personal conversations without intervening. The reality was that those who cursed my race and ethnicity were far bigger in size than most of the Asian children who sat silently.

The racial harassment wasn’t limited to bus rides. It surfaced in my high school cafeteria, where a middle-aged Chinese vendor who spoke broken English was told by rowdy students each day at lunch time to “Hurry up, you dumb Ching!” On the sidewalks, black teenagers and adults would creep up behind 80-year-old Asians and frighten them with sing-song nonsense: “Yee-ya, Ching-chong, ah-ee, un-yahhh!” At markets and in the streets of poor black neighborhoods, Asians would be told, “Why the hell don’t you just go back to where you came from!”

When it came time for college, I left this ugly world for a beautiful school far away. Finally, it was possible to pursue a life without racial harassment backed by the threat of violence. I chose not to return to my old neighborhood after college, but I am often reminded of the racial discrimination I endured there. On a bus not too long ago I saw a black woman curse at a Korean man, “You f—ing Chinese person! Didn’t you hear that I asked you to move yo ass? You too stupid to understand English or something?”

In poor neighborhoods across this country Asians endure daily racial hatred just as I did. Because of their language deficiencies, their small size, their fear of violent confrontations, they endure in silence. Unlike me, many of them will never depart for a new life in a beautiful place far, far away. So each day they grow more bitter against a group that much of America refuses to acknowledge to be capable of racism: African Americans.

In a fair and peaceful world, racial harassment will be decried without regard to its source. The problem today is that prominent black leaders rule out even the possibility of black racism. Activists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson intone that racism equals “prejudice plus power,” and that since blacks in America lack power, they are simply not capable of practicing racism against anyone. John Hope Franklin, chair of President Clinton’s race panel, angrily insists that racism is something suffered, not dished out, by blacks. Many black professors, writers, polemicists, and politicians repeat the same mantra. What might appear to be black racism, writes syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, actually boils down not to racism but to acts of crime and rudeness from the perpetrators, and tough luck for the recipients.

Rationalizers of black racism ignore the fact that identical actions inflicted by whites would be universally decried as intolerable. Ultimately, their arguments simply grease the skids for further traumatizing of “unlucky” victims. And to real-life casualties of racial animosity, motivation is not especially relevant. Loss is loss. Pain is pain.

Unfortunately, Asian Americans and especially their leaders have failed to speak out on this matter. Complaints from wounded individuals regularly boil into public view, however. In mid-August, I attended a crowded press conference held in New York’s Chinatown to discuss Indonesia s history of discrimination against ethnic Chinese (which peaked this May in a wave of bloody anti-Chinese riots). One woman at the event began to hysterically scream out her frustrations over black American racism against Asians. The woman, Mee Ying Lin, shouted, “Chinese suffer from racial discrimination by blacks every day. We should help persecuted Chinese overseas, but why is no one dealing with our own troubles in America ?”

Rose Tsai, head of the San Francisco Neighbors Association, and candidate for a seat on the citys Board of Supervisors, suggests that everyday Asians rarely defend themselves against ghetto racism because “Asian culture is just not that confrontational. Asians are unlike blacks who got to where they are in politics by being militant.”

Tsai explains that Asian involvement in politics is at a nascent stage, that it is difficult for her organization even to convince Asian immigrants to vote, let alone make a political stink against racial harassment. “Asians are just not used to standing up for our own rights,” says another Bay Area Chinese activist with frustration.

That might explain the quiescence of recent immigrants who speak imperfect English. But what about the growing cadre of Asian activists? They are far from passive or non-confrontational. In just the past two years, organizations like the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, the National Asian-Pacific American Legal Consortium, the Organization for Chinese Americans, and others have voiced loud condemnations of “racism” in American society. But they have focused on events like the recent investigation of Asian donors of illegal campaign funds, the Republican opposition in Congress to Bill Lann Lees nomination as director of the Office of Civil Rights, a cover drawing for National Review that showed the President, Vice President, and First Lady dressed in Manchurian garb, and even a recent cover photo for this magazine that showed a handsome Asian male scowling angrily at the camera.

If vocal Asian activists are able to work themselves into a frenzy attacking everyday political tussles and editorial cartoons for their alleged racist motivations, they are obviously capable of confrontation. Why then do we never hear these national activists condemning black racism against Asians in our inner cities?

Some Asian-American activists say the reason they have not confronted anti-Asian racism among blacks is because the tension does not exist on the national level, but is merely confined to some local areas. Karen Narasaki of the National Asian-Pacific American Legal Consortium claimed in a recent interview that black animosity is different in each city and ought to be handled differently in each case by local organizations. David Lee, executive director of one such local organization, the San Francisco Voters Education Committee, concurs: “There may be a few communities and a few areas where tensions existso it is better for community groups rather than a national organization like the Organization of Chinese Americans to deal with such problems.”

Representatives of national Asian organizations also cite resource constraints to explain their quiescence. They say black-Asian clashes are not a serious enough national issue to expend scarce time and money on.

There is a difference, however, between not being able to expend effort and not wanting to. Asian activists on the national level also matter-of-factly justify black racism in inner cities as a direct result of competition between Asians and their black neighbors over limited economic resources. Narasaki, while acknowledging she is not an inner city expert, insists that many black and Asian conflicts “have to do with the lack of economic opportunities” in cities. Echoing this refrain, Stanley Mark, program director of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, asserts that “we can’t talk about race without talking about economic disparities.”

In this vein, Asian activists consistently mention that racial problems occur when Asian merchants move into predominantly black neighborhoods and flourish. The vicious year-long black boycott of a Korean store in Brooklyn in 1990, and the looting and burning of Korean stores in south-central Los Angeles during the 1992 Rodney King riots serve as shining examples of conflicts linked to economic disparities.

The excuse of economic disparities fails miserably to justify violence and harassment, however. For some observers, it also brings up memories of Nazi persecution of Jews, African attacks on Indian merchants, and recent murders, rapes, and robberies of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia . All of these atrocities were committed against people deemed economically well off by larger masses facing difficult times.

In any case, the economic disparities rationale falls apart in the many instances where racism flourishes in the absence of class differences. At San Francisco’s Hunters Point public housing complex, for instance, low-income Southeast Asian residents, who are in the minority, have consistently encountered racial harassment from their black neighbors. Racial slurs, physical threats, violence, and destruction of property have festered for years. Philip Nguyen of the Southeast Asian Community Center, who has worked on the case for years, notes that there are no economic differences between the Asian and black families in the complex. The Asians, he says, are very quiet and have made every effort to befriend the black residents, yet serious friction has persisted for ten years.

Joe Hicks, executive director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission, painstakingly tried to bring blacks and Asians together after the Rodney King riots. He believes that “much of the hostilities are due to blacks jealousy of Asian economic success, a sense of alienation, and the self-perpetuating belief that blacks will always lose out in the racial equation in America .” He adds that “certainly economics gives a basis to many of the problems,” but asserts that “even if tomorrow we can have a level playing field for both racial groups, we would still have animosity and racial strife” because prejudices would still remain.

Asian activists who are not otherwise inclined to ignore prejudice are often strangely anxious to apologize for black racism. In interviews, they note that Asians harbor many prejudices against blacks too. This explanation, however, has no power to explain the kind of harassment I and many others like me experienced as young immigrant children beginning life with no animus toward anyone.

Asian prejudice toward blacks surely exists. But whatever biases might be harbored in the minds of Asian immigrants, many of whom had never seen a black person before arriving in the U.S., they certainly don’t rate at the level of destroying black people’s property, scaring their elderly folk, or threatening and assaulting their children the kinds of pressures Asians in many urban areas now endure routinely. Asian youths in particular typically start out with little or no inclination to distrust or dislike African Americans. Young Asians are usually far more willing than their parents to accept a new country and new friends, including black ones. In many cases, it was only after innumerable frightening chases, assaults, and humiliations that Asian attitudes toward blacks turned defensive. Those of us whose open minds were confronted with hostility and hatred will never accept the insulting assertion that our suffering resulted from our own prejudices.

It seems that leaders of the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, and related groups are disconnected from the real concerns of many of the Asians they claim to represent. David Lee, whose Bay Area organization is attempting to promote local dialogue among minority journalists, believes that a fundamental disconnection exists between the national Asian spokesmen and the new majority of Asians who are recent immigrants. The prominent Asian civil rights leaders, he notes, tend to be American born, to speak little of their ethnic languages, and to be unable to read the local ethnic newspapers. Many of them do not know or understand the problems in low income areas, because they live comfortable middle-class lives. And so “it is not surprising that they are silent about black-on-Asian discrimination,” Lee summarizes.

Bong Hwan Kim, executive director of the Korean Youth and Community Center in Los Angeles and an active member of the Black-Korean Alliance that attempted to bring African- and Korean-Americans together in the eight years before the south-central riots, describes a disconnection in the Korean community between first-generation immigrants and acculturated second generation residents with less familiarity with inner-city life. After the shops of Koreatown were looted or burned, he reports, the more suburbanized Koreans pushed inter-ethnic bridge-building efforts, while the first-generation immigrants who toiled in menial jobs, bridled at having to sit across the table from those who looted and burned their property. Meanwhile, few of the prominent national Asian organizations even condemned the violence perpetrated against Koreans in L.A.

Stanley Mark of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund argues in defense of the national Asian organizations that people hear less from the Asian leaders about black-on-Asian racism than white-on-Asian racism simply because there is less of the former than the latter. Mark insists he knows of no case where an Asian was seriously hurt or killed by a racist black American.

Underlining the disconnect between national and local perceptions, Liu Yu-xi, an organizer of the New York coalition of Chinese Americans that mobilized hundreds of thousands of normally politically apathetic Chinese to protest Indonesian violence against Chinese residents, chuckled at Stanley Marks ignorance of cases of black racism. Liu, who has known of many racially motivated physical attacks against Chinese in New York , observes, “Such crimes are reported often in the local Chinese papers, but the national Asian activists obviously do not know how to read Chinese.”

When asked why prominent Asians have said little about racial harassment by African Americans, Bill Tam of San Francisco s Chinese Family Alliance flatly stated, “I think they are afraid to say anything.” To him, it appears that Asian leaders are often fearful of the national black leadership. National Asian organizations generally follow the lead of black civil rights groups like the naacp so slavishly, another Bay Area activist told me, that even when the latters stances (for instance, on quotas and preferences) are opposed to the interests and beliefs of many Asian citizens, the Asian activists don’t challenge their allies.

Rose Tsai of the San Francisco Neighbors Association was a little more blunt: “Most Asian leaders do not wish to acknowledge that there exists a problem because they do not want the minorities to fight amongst themselves.” As a result, national Asian spokesmen speaking for their brethren are without any inkling of the real problems they face, or what kind of racism is dragging them down. Recognizing the complex issues between blacks and Asians, Philip Nguyen of the Southeast Asian Community Center has a simple proposal: “Fight, not against or for any group, but against racial discrimination.”

Ying Ma, who immigrated to the United States in 1985, is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York .

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