N(our)ishing Community Spotlight: an AAPI Heritage Month Series

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Each and every one of us requires nourishment in order to survive. Nourishment can come in many different forms; from the food that we consume, from the support we receive from our friends and family, from the gratification of our accomplishments, and so on.

Likewise, to nourish our communities is to promote the growth of our communities, to furnish our communities with the resources necessary for change and empowerment through various different outlets. Thus, nourishment of our communities come in many different platforms. From providing in-language resources to ethnic communities to creating art pieces that break the silence on issues often overlooked, we all have different capacities and facilities that can nourish our communities in unique ways.

In celebration of the struggle and movement of Asian Americans, we will spotlight a few organizations and individuals who have nourished their respective communities in profound ways, who have built the foundations of change, who have sparked the fires of empowerment.

While the number of organizations and individuals we are able to spotlight for the rest of this month is minuscule compared to the countless number of people who sustain our communities on a day to day basis, we hope that, through our spotlighting articles, we will be able to recognize those who nourish our communities and which communities require nourishment.

On behalf of the Asian Pacific Coalition, we wish you all a happy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Letter to David Choe

To David Choe,

We, the Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), are a collective of twenty-five Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations. We are the official voice of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) community on campus. Through our Principles of Unity, a code by which our coalition organizes by, we affirm the positive and accurate portrayals of Asian Pacific peoples, women, and minorities.

In particular, we want to illuminate the problematic nature of your podcast that was aired March 10, 2014, in when you mention your actions and experiences in a massage parlor. You describe in great detail on your podcast your actions toward a particular masseuse and how you forced your masseuse to touch your genitals and forcibly perform actions in which we strongly believe is rape, not “rapey behavior.” Continually, women are seen as inferior to males, as we have seen in the past and as it still persists in different forms today. One in every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, a clear indicator that sexism is alive and real. Furthermore, Asian American and Pacific Islander women have historically been seen as mere objects, hyper-sexualized and used for sexual gratification and lewd fantasies for the patriarchy. This mentality of viewing women as subhuman will only continue the violence enacted against women and other peoples every two minutes in this country.

You mentioned that your actions were “rapey” but you assert that you are indeed “not a rapist”. However, your actions clearly fit the description of a rapist. When you involve someone else in sexual interactions without their consent, that is not “rapey behavior”; that is rape. Consent is defined as a clear and explicit verbal agreement, a spoken “yes, I would like that”. Eyes alone cannot express consent. Your actions and attitude contribute to the rape culture at large by silencing the voice of sexual assault victims by dismissing your abusive actions as just “rapey behavior.” “Rapey behavior” is rape.

Not only that, but you later claimed that the story was an extension of your art. However, “rape” should never be used for art. In doing so, you trivialize the experiences of violence that women face. Regardless of whether or not the story was true, your actions were unacceptable.

In light of April being National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we urge you to acknowledge the actions described as what they are–rape. As a notable API male, you must realize that you are a representative of your community and that you are accountable for your words and actions. With a broad following, you have the potential to educate your supporters on the subject of rape culture. Therefore we ask you to not only be honest about your behavior, but also to utilize your influence for constructive change. We believe in the power of art to convey a meaningful message, and we hope that yours will convey a more positive one in the future.

Sincerely,
The Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA
&
Savannah Badalich, Student Wellness Commissioner and Founder of 7,000 in Solidarity

Link to PDF: APCLettertoDavidChoe

Official Statement in Regards to SCA5

We, the Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), are a collective of twenty-four Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations. We are the official voice of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) community on campus. Through our Principles of Unity, a code by which our coalition organizes by, we affirm the right to higher education for all communities, especially those who have historically been denied full access.

In particular, we are writing in support of the formerly proposed California Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 5 – a legislation that asks voters to consider repealing Proposition 209’s ban on the use of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in California public education programs.

SCA 5 was introduced by California State Senator Edward Hernandez on December 3, 2012. After passing in the Senate and reaching the Assembly, it was recently referred back to the Senate for re-examination on March 17, 2014 because of pressure from several Chinese American lobbyists.

Recently, many news outlets have published reports regarding Asian American attitudes towards affirmative action and SCA 5. However, many of these have only depicted a narrative of stern opposition, when in fact, it is only a small population of highly privileged Chinese Americans that are attempting to speak on behalf of all API communities. It is extremely disappointing to witness this phenomenon while other API groups remain invisible and voiceless.

We seek to clarify that the mainstream narrative does not represent our communities and that we will not allow our voices to be rendered irrelevant. These reports perpetuate the model minority myth and continue to divide communities of color on crucial community issues.

As a coalition comprised of several ethnic API groups, APC emphasizes that affirmative action policies are, contrary to misconceptions, beneficial for APIs. Through the implementation of Proposition 209, race-blind admissions have been detrimental to all communities of color. Additionally, admission rates of APIs have actually decreased at five out of the eight UC campuses with race-blind admissions.

It is imperative to continually clarify that Southeast Asians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders – whom all fit under Asian American racial categorization – are groups that experience some of the lowest college attendance rates. In a report compiled by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, 40.3% of Southeast Asian and 50.2% of Pacific Islander students between the ages of 25-34 have not attended college. Some of the misconceptions of affirmative action are maintained by this lack of disaggregated data, which consequently masks these disparities.

Furthermore, the low representation of African American and Latina/o students at our higher education institutions is especially disturbing. As concluded by a 2012 study made by the Higher Education Research Institution at UCLA, under-representation of any community creates a detrimental effect on campus climate, which has salience in daily activities. At UCLA, we have experienced the consequences from a lack of diversity through the continuance of racialized hate crimes on campus.

In promoting unity and cooperative interaction amongst different communities, we stress the importance for members of the API community to work in solidarity with other communities of color. While affirmative action has been framed centrally as an African American and Latina/o issue, APIs are stakeholders in this issue as well. Nonetheless, we must utilize our voices and act beyond self-interest – in which case, to understand the oppressive histories that others have experienced.

While SCA 5 is currently halted, we have the responsibility to continue advocating for educational change through other initiatives. Rather than focusing solely on admissions, we must further demand change from the state, specifically with its larger disinvestment in California’s public education system.

To increase educational opportunity, the state must commit to promoting diversity and inclusion, sustaining retention and recruitment programs, providing visibility for underrepresented and underserved groups, and ensuring affordability for all students. These are all issues that California students grapple with, and in identifying them, we must advocate for larger efforts for equitable change.

Therefore, in recognizing the right to higher education for all students, we demand that our state legislators remain committed to enacting policies that reflect the diversity of California. Additionally, we affirm the student voice as one that must be acknowledged and included in the discussion of this legislation.

Thus we call upon members of our campus community – as well as those beyond – to advocate in solidarity for equitable educational opportunity. In working towards this vision, we are committed to cross-community building and supporting policies like SCA 5 that benefit all communities of color, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Signed,

The Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA

ATTACHED: Official Statement on Letterhead: APCStatementofSupportforSCA5

Letter to Washington R*dskins & NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

To the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell:

We, the Asian Pacific Coalition (APC) at University of California – Los Angeles, are a collective of twenty-four Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations. We serve as the official voice of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community on campus. As representatives of historically misrepresented and oppressed groups ourselves, we express solidarity with the American Indian community in their protest against the use of offensive and stereotypical mascots and racial slurs.

The Asian Pacific Coalition has a close relationship with the American Indian Student Association at UCLA. The Asian American Studies Center and the American Indian Studies Center share a space in the same hall on the UCLA campus. As such, we recognize the histories of struggle that both our communities have faced. According to the Asian Pacific Coalition’s Principles of Unity, we support the positive and accurate portrayals of Asian Pacific peoples, women, and minorities. We recognize how important it is for marginalized people to have a voice in how they are portrayed. We strongly believe that the use of American Indian stereotypes and racial slurs as mascots and team names is highly offensive and disrespectful to the history of genocide and continued racism against American Indian peoples.

Therefore we are in solidarity with the Native American community and support the Eradicate Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM) in their demand for the Washington Redsk*ns football team to end the use of the racial slur “redskins” as their mascot and name. We are calling upon the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell to support the changing of the Washington Redsk*n’s name and mascot and to end the fan practice of redface in their NFL games. The continued usage of this or any racial slur against the repeated demands of the American Indian community is damaging, hurtful, and ultimately unacceptable.

Signed,
The Asian Pacific Coalition at UCLA

 ATTACHED: Official Statement with Letterhead

APC_WashingtonFootballTeam

In Support of the Nikkei Student Union

The Asian Pacific Coalition supports and stands with the Nikkei Student Union at UCLA in the battle to preserve Manzanar Historic Site.

Below is a statement drafted by NSU.

To get involved with blocking the creation of a solar panel ranch on land that carries upmost importance and history to the JA and American Indian community, please see these link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/halt-ladwp-s-plan-to-build-a-1-200-acre-solar-energy-generating-station-adjacent-to-manzanar-national-historic-site

And also, please email your comments to inyoplanning@inyocounty.us to be read at the public hearing this Wednesday.

Letter of opposition_NSU

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