Several hundred teachers have recently taken part in "Community Connection: Recent Incidents of Racially-Motivated Bias, Violence and Hate Against Asian Americans" produced by ACUHO-I (Association of College and University Housing Officers – International) and NADOHE (National Association of Diversity Officers in higher education).
Presenters Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur, a diversity, equality and inclusion strategist, and Dr. Kimberly A. Truong, Executive Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at MGH Institute of Health Professions, provided a historical context for recent acts of anti-Asian violence in the US and highlighted ways in which higher education can work to eradicate hatred.
Dr. Luis Inoa, associate dean of the college, housing and welfare at Vassar College led the discussion. "What has brought us together is tragedy and ongoing anti-Asian violence and hatred."
Participants were polled about a variety of questions, including what actions their institutions have taken to respond to the wave of anti-Asian violence.
“We have seen a sharp rise in violence against people perceived as Asian and Asian Americans since a year ago, especially the elderly, especially women, especially those on low incomes and vulnerable, those who collect from bins or bottles. cans, people already on the fringes, ”said Pendakur.
Pendakur said Asians and Asian Americans who experience the prejudice and do the work on campuses face double stress, noting that political scientist Dr. Jane Junn in 2007 & # 39; From Coolie to Model Minority & # 39; has published, which traces the evolution of Asian-American identity. in the US from the late 18th century to the 1970s.
Asian-American racial identity isn't just being Asian in America, the panelists noted. It's how that racial identity has been shaped by the two branches of US labor needs and US foreign policy interests.
"We need to disassemble how we are perceived as eternal foreigners, not real Americans, therefore prone to violence and violations, and at the same time how we are so fundamentally American that we have worked hard and made the American dream come true," said Pendakur.
"The emergence of this model minority myth has been detrimental to multiple communities," she added. “Harmful to black and brown communities competing against our community and very harmful to our community because it puts us in a performance box. If you don't conform to the Model Minority tropes, where do you fit in? "
Colleges and universities, she added, can do more to provide education.
"Explanations are not enough," said Pendakur. "If you don't have Asian-American studies on your campus, you have a hole and a chance."
Truong noted that when data is broken down, the portrayal of all Asian Americans as highly educated is largely incorrect. Asian Americans make up 5.4% of the US population, but the inter-ethnic differences are often invalidated. She noted that South Asians are often excluded from the discourse and more attention should be paid to discrimination against Muslims.
"Having that model minority myth turns into denial of our racial reality," Truong said. "Asian Americans are often treated as a monolithic group."
About one in two Asian Americans has a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the U.S. population as a whole, which is one in three. But some nationalities and ethnicities have very different numbers. Vietnamese, Burmese, Cambodians and Laotians, for example, have a much lower level of education. These populations mostly came to the US as refugees.
“It's very important for us to take data apart,” said Truong. “It is definitely related to (racial justice).
"No special attention is paid to the Southeast Asian population when it comes to admission, financial aid and conservation policies," she added. "When it comes to affirmative action, I think Southeast Asians should be involved in these talks."