Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Overt Racism

In my Ethnic Studies Social Science Methodologies class, one of my fellow classmates gave a presentation about how the Asian American pan-ethnic identity has transformed through the years. She acknowledged that "Asian American" was an identity that developed during the Asian American Movement of the late 1960s-early '70s, where Asian Americans united together through pan-ethnic lines in the fight for civil rights. Her research question centered around whether the "Asian American" identity could still be relevant today, and homegirl came to the conclusion that it was no longer needed because Asian Americans do not face "overt racism."

Wait, what?!

By "overt racism," she meant "institutional racism." You know, the type of racism that prohibits Asian Americans from sitting in the same section of a movie theater with whites, the racism that forced hundreds of Japanese Americans to leave their homes and become incarcerated in concentration camps. Just because there are no longer any laws that segregate and legalize the discrimination of Asian Americans, my classmate believes that Asian Americans no longer face "overt racism."

First of all, racism is racism. Whether openly shown or not, there's no denying that Asian Americans and other people of color are subject to violent and discriminatory actions everyday merely because of the color of our skin. Do y'all remember Alexandra Wallace? Some people argued that her video complaining about Asians in the library was not racist at all, that Asians are truly loud and there are too many of them in the university. Not only does this view reinforce and support Asian stereotypes, but it also promotes hate and condescending attitudes towards Asian/Asian American students and anti-Asian sentiments.

Secondly, institutional racism still exists today. For instance, if you were to disaggregate the Asian/Asian American category in university admissions, you would see that a number of minority Asian groups are marginalized and under represented. For instance, Pilipin@s only make up around 3% of UC Berkeley's undergraduate population, even though we are the second largest population of Asians in the United States. Even though there are no laws that explicitly say that Pilipin@s should not attend university, this country's refusal to establish affirmative action programs prevents Pilipin@s and other disadvantaged groups from pursuing higher education. This is institutional racism--the fact that institutions like the educational system do not support the recruitment of students of color into higher education.

Even though many Asian Americans have become successful in the United States, there's no denying the fact that racism is still a big issue in our community. Whether it's hidden under the guise of the model minority myth or openly visible like the racial slurs written on Jeremy Lin's Facebook page, racism is racism, and the more we deny our oppression, the more our tolerance for it grows.

No comments:

Post a Comment