We, the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) at UC Irvine wholly support the Black Student Union’s demand to abolish the police and any additional paramilitary forces on campus.
In response to an incident regarding the interrogation and endangerment of a Black student and continued anti-blackness, the Black Student Union (BSU) at UCI released a statement demanding the abolition of UCIPD and additional paramilitary forces on campus. APSA’s commitment to education, advocacy, and active political participation as a means of establishing equality compels us to interrogate the role of police in matters of safety and crime prevention. Police killings, assault, and harassment are increasingly brought into mainstream discussion due to a rise in civilian coverage including the events detailed in the BSU demand. This reality defies the popular notion that police are critical to crime prevention and people’s safety.
As an organization that values social justice, political equity, and student empowerment, APSA considers the safety of Black students to be imperative. We recognize the systemic racism that makes our campus unsafe for Black students. We support the BSU unconditionally in their demand beyond the abolition of UCIPD itself but to the “anti-Black paradigm of policing” which enacts violence on Black people.
The implications of police violence extend beyond Black students and the Black community. Historically, the different forms of systematic oppression against non-Black people of color, trans and queer people, undocumented immigrants derive from the template of anti-Black violence. Structural violence against non-Black people of color does not occur in the same degree or systematicness as anti-black violence, but police violence against AAPI communities exists and comes from a foundation of anti-blackness.
In Orange County, the Cal-Gang database collected data racially profiling the Vietnamese community. Photos of Vietnamese youth were taken without their consent so police could further identify “gang symbols” based on the hairstyles, clothes, and tattoos they wore. The criminalization of gangs and racial profiling, derived from anti-Blackness, criminalized and victimized Vietnamese youth.
From 1942-46, the American government ordered Japanese American internment, or the incarceration of American people of Japanese descent in internment camps. Despite having determined that Japanese Americans posed no military threat, American military forces criminalized and punished Japanese Americans. The prison system, designed for the dehumanization and “othering” of Black people was used to deprive Japanese Americans of their human rights.
These incidents demonstrate that anti-Black violence also manifests in violence against Asian Americans. However, there is a need to acknowledge anti-blackness within Asian American communities. The support of and protests for NYPD officer Peter Liang makes this clear. Liang, unlike white police officers Darren Wilson and Brian Encinia, was indicted and convicted of manslaughter for the death of a black man Akai Gurley. This difference in sentencing reflects anti-Asian racism in the criminal justice system. However, Chinese-American support for Liang reflects an Asian American desire to gain impunity for participating in police brutality against Black people rather than eliminate the structure that creates that violence and allows white police officers to kill. We condemn Asian American participation in anti-blackness and oppressive structures.
Abolishing the police means abolishing myth of Black criminality that justifies all kinds of police violence, harassment, and sexual assault. It means ending the myth that policing leads to safety and crime prevention. The demand to abolish the police is to understand that police murders of Black people in the past and present are not being brought “to justice.” It is to understand that Asian American communities suffer violence as a result of anti-Black policing.
We support BSU’s demand to abolish the police, choosing to support the demands of our Black peers. We recognize anti-Blackness in Asian American communities even in the way we perpetrate antiblackness not only through incidents/events but also through everyday experiences and interactions, such as using the “n” word in conversation or on an album cover and appropriating black culture and black bodies while disregarding black lives.We support this petition as a step towards creating a safe system for Black students at UCI and a safer world without the institution of policing.
We strongly urge Asian Americans and folks of Asian descent to support the BSU demand by reading their open letter and signing their petition (https://www.change.org/p/howard-gillman-uc-irvine-administration-university-of-california-uc-irvine-demands-to-abolish-the-police). We also urge allies and accomplices to sign on to APSA’s support of the BSU demand to abolish the police.
To Legislative Council of ASUCI and UCI Administration,
We, the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) at University of California, Irvine, fully supports the six Legislative Council members (Khaalidah Sidney, Matthew Guevara, John Salazar, Naty Rico, Matthew Tsai, and Negar Fatahi) who voted to remove all flags from the ASUCI office. The resolution was intended to create a more welcoming and inclusive space for students of all nationalities by addressing the effects of U.S. nationalism, of which includes imperialism and other structural injustices that the country was founded upon and that the American flag symbolizes.
The point that we would like to address and denounce is that over the weekend, while these students have been personally targeted and attacked by nationalistic groups and students on- and off-campus, the UCI administration did nothing to protect these students. In fact, Chancellor Howard Gillman himself issued a statement affirming his patriotism and nationalism to the American flag and its democratic values, and additionally indicated that the six Legislative Council students were responsible for tarnishing the university's reputation as a democratic institution.
We as APSA Board condemn Chancellor Gillman’s actions for not only publicly denouncing the six students but also for failing to protect these students from receiving death threats, xenophobic and racist comments, and violent remarks stemming from both student populations and social media. We condemn the UCI administration for ignoring the students' safety in an institution that promises and claims to uphold diversity and democratic values of freedom of speech and expression. We also condemn the UCI administration for prioritizing the University's reputation and public profile over the students' needs and demands to have a safe and inclusive space for students of all identities and nationalities, and to have their voices and opinions heard without fearing severe and violent hate from the community.
APSA strives towards achieving equality throughout diverse and multicultural communities and believe that no student should experience intimidation and spiteful attacks regardless of their voting records. We denounce Chancellor Gillman’s statement and actions that jeopardize these students’ safety and well-being and we fully support Khaalidah Sidney, Matthew Guevara, John Salazar, Naty Rico, Matthew Tsai, and Negar Fatahi unconditionally based on the following demands:
We demand Chancellor Gillman to retract his statement in which he subjects the six students to public harassment and maintains University prestige and reputation over students' concerns and needs
We demand Chancellor Gillman or ASUCI to provide a safe and inclusive space where students of all nationalities can feel welcomed and protected
We demand UCI administration to offer protection to ensure the physical and mental well-being of the six students
The Asian Pacific Student Association Board
We, the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) Board at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) wholly support the nine demands put forth by the Black Student Union (BSU).
As an organization that values social justice and equity for students on campus and in the general community, APSA Board supports the prioritization of fulfilling Black students’ needs for resources on campus. Although Black students do receive institutional support in some sectors of campus, such as the BSU space in the Cross-Cultural Center, Black students are still underserved in housing, counseling, and adequate programming staff who can address the specific issues faced by the Black community.
We acknowledge the reality of institutional and systemic racism that Black students face, including but not limited to the examples listed in the petition, while navigating systems of higher education. These forms of inequity manifest in low retention rates, a lack of representation among staff and faculty members, as well as a lack of institutionalized resources.
Although UCI is home to faculty who are at the forefront of theorizing internationally recognized Black scholarship, the Program in African-American Studies has faced budget cuts, in addition to not being granted with the privileges and funding that come with full departmental status. As an organization who has the privilege to be supported by a Department of Asian American Studies, we believe that it is an injustice and discriminatory to delay the creation of an African-American Studies Department.
Additionally, it is imperative that Asian American students support the demands of their Black peers. There is an extensive amount of anti-Black racism within our community that we must still address every day, especially since there is constantly a lacking response received by UCI administration and the Asian American community, as evident in the blackface incident demonstrated by the Lambda Theta Delta fraternity in 2013. Conversely, the African-American Studies faculty has been vital in raising consciousness among progressive Asian American students on campus as well as teaching the general campus and greater community about social justice issues. Support of this petition from Asian Americans is only a first step towards addressing the larger issue of anti-Blackness within our community and creating a more responsive system of support for Black students at UCI.
We have only listed a few examples that BSU has identified as priorities in their demands for institutional change. Please read and sign the unabridged list here: https://www.change.org/p/howard-gillman-implement-institutional-resources-for-black-students
We urge Chancellor Howard Gilman to respond to the demands on BSU’s petition by no later than 5 p.m. on January 30, 2015.
The Board of the Asian Pacific Student Association
To Phi Gamma Delta @ UCI, UCI Interfraternity Council, UCI Panhellenic Association, UCI Multicultural Greek Council, UCI undergraduate communities, UCI faculty, staff, and administration:
The Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) at the University of California, Irvine condemns the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity for hosting another iteration of its annual “FIJI Islander” themed party on May 15th, 2014.
We, the Asian Pacific Student Association Executive Board, echo and fully support Save Gasaiwai’s statement (attached below) regarding the Phi Gamma Delta event.
Save, in his statement, brings up important issues that are lived realities for Fijian communities. We are disappointed by the extensiveness of cultural stereotyping/appropriation as it continues to pervade people of color communities. These issues greatly concern APSA at UCI and should concern UCI communities as well.
We strongly urge you all to read Save’s statement as he articulates concerns regarding the problematics of the event theme and Phi Gamma Delta’s nickname:
“I raised my concerns about the internationally recognized Greek fraternity Phi Gamma Delta which uses the nickname "Fiji" (and apparently has been known by that name since 1894) about their use of cultural caricatures and props of Fijians and Islanders in general. According to them, the reason they require a nickname is because they hold their Greek name to the utmost respect and deem it as a sacred thing, so "Fiji" was adopted as their organization's pseudonym to preserve the sacredness of their fraternity.
They've been conducting an annual philanthropy event that's called "Fiji Islander" which is a party where they raise funds for several causes and these events usually consists of "large festivities with tropical themes often using banana and palm trees as decoration, although they can vary widely from chapter to chapter." I saw pictures of their past events where attendees were wearing traditional/cultural Fijian attires and just Islander attire in general with stereotypical props and caricatures of Islanders.
I usually do not get up in arms with these sorts of things but the fact that an institution of learning and an organization that claims to promote " high ethical standards and values" is tacitly committing an act of cultural appropriation and publicly projecting their ethnographic ignorance should be a cause for concern for everyone. This is not any different from other cultural appropriation incidents that have occurred in other university campuses across the nation and right here at UCI. This brings up another related issue of the grave need for more ethnic studies classes and group/cultural consciousness to prevent people from blatantly using insensitive themes that is of paramount importance to other people.”
It is too often that fraternities and sororities choose racist themes for their parties and events. APSA at UCI will not tolerate, be silent, nor be complicit in acts of cultural appropriation that hurt marginalized People of Color communities because they maintain and fortify white male hegemonic structures.
APSA at UCI is extremely disappointed in Justin’s lackluster response and in intoxicated fraternity members’ explicitly racist, ignorant, and rude reactions to peaceful confrontations regarding their offensive behaviors, attire, and accessories.
We also fully support Save’s demands that were sent to the Phi Gamma Delta President Justin Huang more than 24 hours before the “FIJI Islander” event took place. The demands were as follows:
1) Take off the name “FIJI Islander” from your event
2) Stop using coconut trees and other stereotypical displays of Fiji Islanders and Islanders in general
3) Do some extensive research before you conduct these sorts of events especially when doing it under the banner of “FIJI Islander”
4) Tell members of your organization to stop wearing our traditional/cultural attires, they don’t know jack shit about its cultural significance
In addition to these demands from prior to the event, APSA also urges the following steps:
1) Phi Gamma Delta at UCI end the use of “FIJI” as a name for their fraternity
2) Phi Gamma Delta end the annual “FIJI Islander” social and philanthropic events so as they are not to be “Fiji” or “tropical” themed. It is possible to host social and philanthropic events without appropriating a people’s name and culture
3) Phi Gamma Delta issue a public apology demonstrating that they acknowledge the racist nature of both their appropriation of the “Fiji” name and their conduct at the “FIJI Islander” party
Asian Pacific Student Association at the University of California, Irvine
The following UCI campus student organizations have signed on in support of this statement:
DREAMS @ UCI
Hmong Student Association
An extended statement by Save Gasaiwai may be found on Facebook and is attached below: https://www.facebook.com/notes/save-gasaiwai/phi-gamma-delta-appropriation-of-fijian-culture-please-share/797035360320210
Evidence of the cultural appropriation at the event can be found here:
To the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community and Community Members:
We the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) at the University of California, Irvine support the spirit and intent of the California Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA5) as it stood in early 2014. We are a student organization dedicated to advocating in the framework of social justice in a multicultural society on behalf of Asian American and Pacific Islanders not only on the UC Irvine campus but in communities beyond. We believe that SCA5 aligns with the values and interests of the communities that we serve.
SCA5 has been referred back to the California Senate and awaits the results of the official bipartisan taskforce that will inquire on the accessibility and diversity of California’s public higher education system. Though this development allows stakeholders, such as APSA, to more comprehensively educate the community, we must address several issues. Primarily, the gravely misleading campaign of ahistorical information disseminated in the weeks leading to SCA5’s withdrawal; and, its shameful distortion of Asian America’s diverse constituencies.
The most blatant lie about SCA5 is that it would allow the introduction of so called “racial quotas” or negative action that would exclude Asian Americans due to perceived overrepresentation. We firstly point to the federal Supreme Court’s 1978 decision in University of California v. Bakke, which outlawed the use of racial quotas in all public university admissions policies. Bakke set legal precedent that SCA5 does not seek to disturb. This means that the passage of SCA5 would still disallow the use of racial quotas.
Furthermore, we stress that not all of “Asian America” is “overrepresented” in California’s public higher education system (the University of California system, the California State University system, and California Community Colleges). Many Asian Americans, especially those with working class, refugee, or colonization- and imperialism-related immigration backgrounds, have significantly lower rates of higher education attainment and accessibility. Moreover, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians, among other disadvantaged Asian American subgroups such as working class East Asians, are not overrepresented and could be beneficiaries of affirmative action or race-conscious admissions policies.
Another claim made against SCA5 reflects the racial prejudices and discriminatory practices within our own Asian American communities. Many arguments, exemplified by signatories of the Change.org petition and outspoken Asian American politicians and special interests, contain widespread implied assumptions that African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians are inherently and “culturally” less hardworking, diligent, motivated, than Asian Americans. This is simply and objectively not true. For example, research has shown that when class and other structural conditions are controlled for, African American and Latino families spend just as much time supporting their children’s educational development as Asian American families. Similarly, African Americans and Asian Americans of comparable class backgrounds are documented to be comparable in educational achievement. This is not to say that a class-conscious affirmative action is a better solution than race-conscious affirmative action Rather, race, ethnicity, and class are closely intertwined and must all be addressed as a few of many factors in the college admissions process.
The rhetoric of “lazy Blacks taking my hardworking Asian child’s spot” reflects deeper anti-Black and anti-Latino sentiments held by many in the Asian American community, especially in the more privileged quarters. Acclaimed writer Toni Morrison once wrote of a phenomenon affecting all immigrants: “A hostile posture towards resident Blacks must be struck at the Americanizing door before it will open”. As Asian Americans invested in constructing a socially just world not only for our own communities but for all oppressed people’s, we must interrogate the racist roots of this assumption that Black, Latino, and Native Americans who could benefit from race-conscious admissions are any less qualified or capable than Asian Americans. The rhetoric is ironic when considering it was the African American led Civil Rights Movement that produced the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act that brought down the racist and exclusionary ban on immigration from most of Asia. The primary beneficiaries of this Act were highly educated and skilled East Asians who received preferential treatment to immigrate to the US; and now they are people most vocal and influential in preventing SCA5’s potential of expanding access to higher education for the communities who made these East Asian Americans’ success in the US possible in the first place.
We the Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine demand and assert the following:
● Student voices must heard, acknowledged, and considered in this conversation and decision making process, because we are closest to the issue of higher education and the ones who are living the struggles of higher education attainment and accessibility.
● The inclusion of student voices must specifically occur in the bipartisan taskforce being put together by the California Legislature
● We condemn the use of lies, misrepresentations, and blatant racism to manipulate our Asian American communities’ understanding of SCA5 and affirmative action
● The lack of representation of many groups such as African Americans, Southeast Asians, Latinos, American Indians, West Asians, and others negatively impacts our campus climate and the learning experience of all students
● Race-conscious admissions policies that would have been made possible by SCA5 could have benefitted many still-disadvantaged Asian American students
● Asian Americans must stand with affirmative action’s goals of justice and equity for all people of color because it is the ethical response to a history of oppression
In closing, we as the Asian Pacific Student Association at UC Irvine maintain our support for a vision of social and racial justice through proactive, affirmative policies to right both the wrongs of the past and those continuing in the present.
Asian Pacific Student Association at the University of California, Irvine
“Finally, APAs must be mindful of their own blindspot: We possess a “simultaneity” in which we can be both victim and perpetrator of racial oppression. We must reject a self-congratulatory embrace of the model minority myth and reject policies justified only by the narrowest self-concern. Most importantly, we must denounce the prejudice within our own communities, which allow us to care less about social justice and more about individual self-interest.
The affirmative action debate affords APAs a unique opportunity to re-envision a multiracial democracy. In an era of global corporate restructuring and downsizing, APAs should do more than scramble for a piece of a constantly shrinking pie. We should do more than aspire to be “model minority” managers of increasingly scarce resources. In coalition with all those genuinely committed to social justice, we can together pursue a transformative program of social and economic expansion informed by the sort of deep democratic inclusion that places those least privileged at the forefront.”
- Beyond Self-Interest: Asian Pacific Americans toward a Community of Justice, 1996
To: Cross Cultural Center Administration
We, as the Asian Pacific Student Association (APSA) at the University of California, Irvine, believe that Wong Fu Productions is not a good representation of Asian Pacific Islanders (API) for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival (formerly known as the Rainbow Festival). We acknowledge that they were chosen by a student committee of the Cross-Cultural Center Festival. However, as keynote speakers for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival, they do not fulfill the mission of the festival, which is a “celebration of cultural and ethnic diversity and also a look into social justice issues.”
Wong Fu Productions are Youtube stars and is popular among young APIs. However, their work generally focuses on a socioeconomically privileged and ethnically narrow portrayal of APIs that fails to acknowledge the full spectrum of API identities. Also, we as APSA want to address the problematic stereotypes that they perpetuate.
We as APSA do not feel Wong Fu Productions is an accurate representation of the API community, and should not be a keynote representation of people of color in media for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival. Instead, they contribute to the development of various stereotypes that have provided a very inaccurate portrayal of the API community. Their work supports the existence of the model minority myth because their videos often feature middle/upper class, hetero-normative East Asians.
The Cross-Cultural Center has brought in keynote speakers that represent the API community through their activism and efforts towards social justice such as Helen Zia and Vijay Prashad. Past keynote speakers for the Cross-Cultural Center Festival truly fulfilled the Cross-Cultural Center’s mission statement by “fostering cultural identities within their communities and providing opportunities for intellectual exchange, student leadership development, and community engagement.”
Although there have been videos where Wong Fu Productions have brought to light API stereotypes, these productions only scratch the surface regarding social justice and pressing issues impacting the community. Members of their audience have commented that they identify along with these stereotypes, but Wong Fu Productions has not gone further to educate about these stereotypes or to present an educational discussion regarding how these stereotypes harm the API community.
The issues we want to address in Wong Fu Productions’ selection are:
(1) The lack of critical awareness and activism in keynote selection.
We understand that Wong Fu Productions will be speaking at UC Irvine as the keynote for the Cross-Cultural Center. Although Wong Fu Productions may allow the Cross-Cultural Center Festival to be a successful and well attended event, their position as a keynote speaker does not align with the missions and values of the festival itself. But we must emphasize as APSA that more inclusive decisions and communication with community members in the decision-making process could have been made.
We as APSA demand for:
Asian Pacific Student Association at the University of California, Irvine