“Asian Privilege”

White men fighting with
white men about things they don’t
understand or live

Though I give Jon Stewart props for challenging Bill O’Reilly to acknowledge white privilege on his show, this video is hard to watch because O’Reilly doesn’t care, and because Stewart doesn’t know anything about Asian Americans and the model minority myth. When O’Reilly says, “If there’s white privilege than there has to be Asian privilege…” and goes on to state what he calls facts about how Asians make more money and have higher degrees than white people. But that is not true, because the statistics that look at medium household income do not consider how many people in that household are working to contribute to the household income, which for many Asian households is higher than white households. This statement about Asian’s success also lumps together a very large group of people from various countries, of different citizenships statuses and economic backgrounds. And though there are Asians who are much “better off” than many Black, Latino, Indigenous (even white) folks, this should not be misconstrued to mean that Asians do not face racism. There are different kinds of racism, they are specific to each group, but they are all connected and rooted in the same system of white supremacy.

“As a hegemonic device, the model minority stereotype maintains dominance of white in the racial hierarchy by diverting attention away from racial inequity and by setting standards for how minorities should behave,” (Lee, 1996, p. 6).


What kind of Asian are you?


Asians are used as

a hegemonic tool to

maintain racism


I love this video of Alex Dang’s poem about Asian American identity. He breaks down anti-Asian racism on the institutional, interpersonal, and internalized levels. In our society, Asian Americans are projected as the “model minority” to manipulate the public to believe that if Blacks and Latinos were more like the Asians (“hard-working and submissive”), they would also succeed. But this myth not only blames Blacks and Latinos for their “failure” and keeps people of color divided, it also essentializes all Asians as the same, silencing our voices and hiding the fact that Asians also experience racism.  Asian Americans are a very diverse population, and the model minority myth ignores the fact that Southeast Asians are some of the poorest people in this country and that undocumented Asian American students often cannot access services because they are only offered in English or Spanish and that even well-educated Asian Americans continue to be passed over for senior or manager job positions by less qualified white male candidates.  Racism has many shades, and we must understand all of its complex workings in order to dismantle it.




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Ethnic Studies Haiku


Ethnic Studies is

just like therapy, but for

people of color.




On the first day of my Asian American Studies course this semester, I almost started to cry, because I was suddenly in a safe space.  Not only was I surrounded by other people who looked like me, but more importantly, by people who thought like me, who recognize white supremacy and racism in our society and want to end it.  Being allowed the space to name the trauma we deal with daily (racism), and to challenge it, can be healing and transformative, much like therapy.  Just like in traditional therapy, you get to know yourself better, you delve into the history and root causes of the pain you are feeling, and find language to name it, process it, and hopefully change it.  Being in an Ethnic Studies class makes me feel less crazy, because I know I am not alone in the struggle.  Though it can be painful to revisit the traumatic history of our country, it is ultimately a healing process.

In Arizona, Ethnic Studies was banned with HB 2281, and in many other schools, Ethnic Studies is being threatened.  Currently students at California State University are demanding that Ethnic Studies be a general education requirement for all students.  From my own personal experience, I know how powerful and life changing these courses are for people of color.  Furthermore, for students of all races, Ethnic Studies courses are essential in understanding this country.  We must fight to not only maintain to keep these programs, but to grow and spread them to high schools and beyond.

“Biking while Black”


Recently I was riding my bike and a police officer stopped me because I didn’t stop at the stop sign as I made a right turn.  I was startled by him yelling at me and didn’t know how to respond: I had never been yelled at by a police officer before.  I mumbled a confused “sorry,” he said, “be more careful next time,” and then he let me go.  As I rode away, I felt annoyed at the police officer because I had thought I was being safe enough as there were no people or cars around when I went through the stop sign.  I also felt embarrassed, angry, and violated.  But as I continued to ride, my emotions began to pass, and I realized what I was really feeling was entitled.  Because the fact is, I was completely guilty of breaking the rule, but I felt privileged and entitled enough to think “how dare that police officer yell at a nice girl like me?” The layers of privilege I have were revealed to me in this moment: it is a privilege to have never before been stopped by a police officer, it is a privilege to feel like the laws of the road don’t apply to me, it is a privilege to be stopped by a police officer and be merely “reprimanded” and then let go without a ticket (or worse), and it is a privilege to think that I had any right to argue with him about it.  Though I experience racism as a mixed race Asian person, my light skin protects me from the racism that black and brown people deal with everyday.

I have been thinking about this incident for the past few weeks, but today, as I was reading Colorlines magazine, I saw this article about a black man, named D’Paris Williams, who was brutally beat and arrested by the cops for biking on the sidewalk, just two blocks from my apartment.  I have ridden my bike on the sidewalk of my block many times, but have never had any repercussions.  This man was not simply yelled at, or ticketed, he was beaten down as if he were actually a threat; apparently in the police officer’s mind any young black man (even just riding a bicycle)  is always a threat.  Although I am half Chinese, this kind of racial profiling and dehumanizing police brutality will never happen to me because of my racial privilege and the incessant myth of the “dangerous black man” that allows this kind of injustice to happen.


You can see the upsetting footage of this incident here: http://colorlines.com/archives/2013/11/sf_batkid_festivities_turn_violent_when_cops_attack_black_cyclist.html

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Rethinking “Violence against Women”

To build off of my previous post, I offer this video from Jackson Katz (of the great film Tough Guise) which helps us rethink “violence against women” as a men’s issue.

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Patriarchy always wins

zimmerman grey


Men get away with

murder, violence, and abuse.

Patriarchy wins.

In understanding the Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander trials, gender, along with race and class must also be examined.  Marissa Alexander was a victim of domestic abuse by her husband Rico Gray, yet, she is going to jail for hurting NO ONE.  George Zimmerman killed a young man and is not receiving any consequences.  Almost all murders, abuse, and sexual violence are committed by men, but this detail is usually ignored, thus masculinity and patriarchy are overlooked as root causes in examining issues of violence and how the justice system responds to violent crimes.

Check out this great article looking at the intersection of racism and patriarchy in the Martin and Alexander trials:


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I am not Trayvon

But I stand with others in



Some folks, like the white woman in the video “I am not Trayvon Martin” are calling out white activists and their misuse of the “We are Trayvon Martin” phrase.  The slogan is meant to promote solidarity, but some white people are using the phrase to identify with the oppressed victim rather than admit their own white privilege, thus perpetuating the system of racism rather than fighting it.  We must not confuse guilt with solidarity, sympathy with empathy, or intention with reality.  We must critically examine ourselves and the system of racism in order to make change.





Justice means nothing

when a man can kill a boy

and get away free


But if a woman

stands her ground for her safety

she is thrown in jail


“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.



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Slick move



Wake up! Look closer:

Prop 8? DOMA? Don’t be fooled.

These are just distractions.


The Voting Rights Act;

destroyed.  White Supremacy –

hidden in plain sight.


They give us the right

to marry, but take away

the right to vote – slick.


Thank you to Sanjay Makhijani for contributing the first two haiku!



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