Ellen Wu 吳迪安 Profile picture
Jun 20, 2018 15 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Insightful @AAPIData @karthickr @ProfJanelleWong survey findings on #AsianAmericans & #affirmative action. The big takeaway? AsianAms have consistently supported AfAc w/key exception ChineseAms in recent yrs > aapidata.com/blog/asianam-a…
Which leads me back to fundamental Q: Who are "AsianAms," & how do we understand, live w/ its tensions (origins as a radical-left political ID w/origins in 1960s social mvmts, evolution into demographic ID category used by gov't policy, law, higher ed, marketing etc) >
There's a deep irony to fact that AsianAms began life as "Asian Americans" in 1960s-70s by seeking inclusion in emerging affirmative action programs as a way to counter the problem of invisibility in US society >
As AsianAms sought to clarify their standing in post-1960s racial/social order, they claimed a kinship w/other POC, saw themselves as sharing in historical traumas of white supremacy & also entitled to accessing resources, opps made newly available via affirmative action >
But here they confronted problem of trying to shoehorn themselves into a project intended to address longstanding, deep-rooted inequalities endured by AfricanAms, inequalities rooted in slavery, Jim Crow etc--akin too but of course not equivalent to Asian exclusion >
Given that model minority stereotype already racial commonsense by 1960s, new waves of educated/skilled immigrants, lack of political clout, AsianAms encountered difficulties proving themselves to be "minorities" for purposes of compensatory justice. >
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it in 1965, #AsianAmericans had "ceased to be colored" >
Ultimately, AsianAms efforts to be recognized as "minorities" 4 #affirmativeaction purposes ( to address an old prob of being "invisible") ran up against new prob being considered "overrepresented"; so another tension here of being inconsequential/hypervisible simultaneously >
Fast forward 40-50 yrs to current contestation over Harvard etc.; ironically, the ChineseAms (remember, a minority among all AsianAms) who have vocally, actively, effectively mobilized in opposition to AfAC have achieved one of goals AsianAms originally sought: visibility >
They are the ones who are getting the attention, making headlines as "Asian Americans" in #affirmativeaction debate > nytimes.com/2018/06/16/us/…
Bringing us back to fundamental Qs (applicable to "minority" groups in particular): Who gets counted as "Asian American" or "Chinese American? Who gets to speak for "us"? Why do we get lumped together in ways often not of our own making? What are consequences of this lumping? >
I'm often struck (& sympathetic) by responses of AsianAms who support #affirmativeaction in face of growing momentum of anti-AFAC Asian Ams: "They don't represent us" or "They don't speak for us," Which is true in a quantitative AND political sense (aapidata.com) >
But I also worry/wonder about limits of this type of response. Does it keep us trapped in endless cycle of jockeying for position of community/minority/POC spokesperson, spokesorganization, "expert" (& here I acknowledge my own stake in claiming authority/expertise) >
Obviously this is a long-running problem in US (little room 4 diversity, variation among POC in white imagination). But I hope that those in positions of authority, influence as spokespersons/experts will use their power for the greater good--esp equity, justice for African Ams >
Anyways, here are some researchers/observers who have been thinking/studying deeply about #AsianAms & #affirmativeaction: @ProfJanelleWong @spamfriedrice @reappropriate @JLeeSoc @karthickr Sharon S. Lee, & Dana Takagi's OG book *The Retreat from Race* (@RutgersUPress, 1992) >

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