Loving Our Asian, Desi, and Pacific Islander American Brothers and Sisters As We Love Ourselves

A popular racist myth is that Asian Americans are the “model minority”, rising above the prejudice and discrimination that is baked into American history and contemporary life. Yet, recent spikes in anti-Asian violence -- including the recent tragic murder of six Asian-American women-- call for fresh eyes to see the familiar, but often unacknowledged story in America's ongoing drama of hate, coupled with the violence that it begets. Love, indeed, is a proven antidote to darkness and the brazen racial hatred that threaten to unravel our society.

In this instance, love looks like raising awareness and unburdening ourselves of anti-Asian stereotypes, prejudice and violence, including historical fetishization of Asian-American women, microaggressions and outright violence.

UO campus resources offered through LinkedIn Learning, the L.A.C.E. framework, and the newly-launched Courageous Conversations series provide readily available opportunities for personal development. Asian American faculty including Krista Chronister, Tara Fickle, Lynn Fujiwara, Sharon Luk and recently-retired Gordon Hall*, to name a few, provide access to excellent scholarship that chronicles the history and impact of discrimination in America, while also elevating a diversity of voices in our Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander (ADPI) communities.  

In the words of Grace Lee Boggs, “We never know how our small activities will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. In this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of ‘critical mass’. It’s always about critical connections.” In that spirit, we encourage you to check in with students, colleagues and staff members, who identify as Asian , Desi and Pacific Islander American and Asian, in order to take steps to build deeper relationships that are mutually supportive, beneficial and life giving. Lend your support and resources to Rose Chavez in CMAE and Jamar Bean in the MCC, who are leading teams that support Asian Desi and Pacific Islander American and Asian students, along with students who identify as Black, Latino/a, Native and biracial. Support the work and activities of the ADPI Strategies Group.

Genuine love and empathy are also about creating a just and peaceful society. Grace Lee Boggs advises that, “Love isn’t about what we did yesterday; it’s about what we do today and tomorrow and the day after.” Therefore, love calls us to dismantle anti-Asian racism in our work as faculty, staff, students and administrators by:

  • recognizing the diversity of Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander American identities and experiences;
  • educating our students and ourselves about the harm of using biased language (i.e. Wuhan flu/Chinese virus);
  • incorporating diverse Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander American voices in classroom curriculum as bona fide American voices;
  • ensuring that Asian Desi and Pacific Islander  Americans are included in the highest levels of institutional leadership and well as decision-making;
  • intervening in practices that normalize invisibility, harassment and tokenization of Asian Desi and Pacific Islander Americans.
  • dismantling the “model minority” myth that uses Asian Desi and Pacific Islander Americans to downplay racism against Blacks, Natives and Latino communities, just to name a few.

In the words of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in the inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Our work begins and ends with love.

* See Gordon Hall’s TV interview “Atlanta killings reverberate in PNW Asian community” on KOIN 6 in Portland here