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APASA Events

Deconstructing the Model Minority Myth

“While many people may be familiar with the Model Minority Myth, we rarely consider how the Model Minority Myth creates barriers to educational access for many different communities within the APA umbrella. Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander students in particular face high school dropout rates that reach up to 40%, but they are often made invisible under the Model Minority Myth.” - Sophia Li, USC APASA Diversity USG Delegate DeconstructED: Breaking Down the Model Minority Myth was a special collaboration event that was part of USC APASA’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Festival and the Academic Culture Assembly’s EdMonth. DeconstructED was a panel event moderated by our very own Sophia Li, APASA’s USG Diversity Delegate, and featured three incredible panelists who offered their unique insights regarding a prevalent issue in the Asian American Pacific Islander Community.

 

THE PANELISTS

Calvin Chang is the Policy Director for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, a national organization whose mission is to promote social justice by engaging Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities through culturally relevant advocacy, research, and development.

Mike Hoa Nguyen is a Research Associate with the National Commission on AAPI Research in Education and a doctoral student in the Division of Higher Education and Organizational Change at UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. His research is primarily concerned with issues of diversity, Minority Serving Institutions, AAPIs in education, and federal/state policy.

Jonathan Wang serves as the Director for USC Asian Pacific American Student Services. Jonathan graduated in 2012, with a Master’s in Education in Post-secondary Administration and Student Affairs from the USC Rossier School of Education. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Education from Rossier.

 

THE MODEL MINORITY MYTH

The term “Model Minority”, we learned, was first coined by President Ronald Reagan following the dark era of Japanese Internment, and has consistently been used by many individuals-- primarily the white community-- as a means of comparison in order to drive a wedge between the AAPI community and other underprivileged minority groups. Despite the attraction of being considered a “model minority”, this unfounded stereotype does more to damage both the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in different ways.

Often, the idea of the Model Minority is attributed as an umbrella term to the entire AAPI community. Just as the term “Asian American” encompasses a wide variety of ethnic groups from one large continent, those who buy-in to the Model Minority stereotype fail to acknowledge that the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are actually very different in terms of their culture, history, and current challenges. The Pacific Islander community is among the most underrepresented in terms of education and often have lower socioeconomic statuses than many of the groups found within the Asian American umbrella; therefore, by being included under the AAPI umbrella, the struggles faced by the Pacific Islander community are largely forgotten, as the metrics reported to the government and aid organizations fail to demonstrate the reality of this underrepresented group.

The Model Minority Myth affects the Asian American Community in a different way. With many Asian Americans, there is a belief that being a model minority somehow legitimizes your identity as an American; as a result, this provides a sort of incentive for those who benefit from the myth to perpetuate this wedge between them and other minority groups. Many Asian Americans who buy-in to the idea of the model minority are as a result placated by those in power by this “honorary white” label; however, what they don’t understand is that, by accepting this stereotype placed upon us, we as a community lose the opportunity to choose when we ourselves have privilege.

 

BREAKING DOWN THE MYTH

Several organizations have begun working to repair the damage done by the Model Minority Myth by working to disaggregate census data to distinguish between Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in order to demonstrate the differences between the two communities. Other organizations are attempting to reframe affirmative action to base admissions not necessarily on race, but on other characteristics as well, such as low income, population of foster children, and number of ESL students.

Even for those of us who are not a part of these organizations, we can contribute to the cause as well. By advocating for our classmates, friends, and family members and explaining to them the importance of data disaggregation and of rejecting the idea of the model minority, we can help to minimize the negative effects of the myth. 

Amy Chau External Community Chair

 

APASA'S Got Talent 2016 feat. Sorah Yang, DANakaDAN and Dumbfoundead!

Hi everyone! Susana here! On Friday February 26th, was one of APASA’s signature event that featured our very own student contestants showcasing their many talents. APASA’s Got Talent seeks to highlight APA artists in our community and creates a platform for these students to be recognized. To top it off, we had 3 celebrity judges: Sorah Yang, DANakaDAN, and Dumbfoundead! They provided positive feedback to all our contestants and even gave some lively performances as well.

The first performers were CJ Productions, which consisted of Casey Huang, Holly Liu, and CASA’s president, Calvin Huang. Their group chemistry was outstanding, and best of all, they reminded us that what mattered most, was to just have fun and enjoy performing.

Dean Huang and Kaiti Liu performed a duet with a hit love song from Meghan Trainor and John Legend, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” Their melodic voices were so in sync and you could just see the ease and confidence they portrayed by just being up on stage. And like Sorah said, the song is not easy to master but they both did so wonderfully! They are also part of USC Trogons, which is the first and only East Asian A Cappella at USC. So keep an eye out for their amazing performances on campus!

Leo Xia performed a song he composed himself about his future when he becomes a father. The song, titled “Shaky Arms,” alludes to the relationship between a father and son; confused about his identity as Asian American, his father is there throughout the journey to help guide him. I’ve heard this song a couple times already and I don’t think I could get tired of it. It touches on so many experiences I think many of us can relate to.

Another duet, Max Lim and Andrew Liu sang the song titled “6 months, 8 days, 12 hours,” by Brian McKnight. Their soulful voices complemented each other and you could just see how they immersed themselves in this song. Playing the piano made it extra heartfelt.

Also, SoCal Mutiyaaran Bhangra, USC’s only all girls bhangra team, performed a traditional Indian dance. Their vibrant costumes of red and yellow as well as their dances were all beautiful!

In addition, a talented duo whom mixed in comedy and break dancing also entered the stage! Jaeho Joshua Lee and Leo Shon, best known as Winnerschnitzel, awed the crowd with their choreographed performance. They are so fun to watch on and off-stage.

The second place winner, Isaac Chien, also known through his stage name as Doji, mixed in singing and drums. Visit his page to listen to his song “Foreign Fields.” I promise you won’t regret it!

https://soundcloud.com/dojimusic#_=_

 

And lastly, our first place winner went to Jacqueline Faye! It is already rare to see a female APA rapper and Jackie has impressed us and left us wanting more. Her rapping skills were off the charts! Watch out Nicki Minaj, we have a rising APA female artist here!

After announcing the winners, the judges themselves gave a performance. They were very engaging with the crowd and got us all to stand up and dance! Afterwards, they stayed for a Meet and Greet with everyone.

It was my first time at Got Talent, and at Ground Zero for that matter, and I was just blown away by the student performances and delicious milkshakes. By the end of it, it felt like I had just stepped out of a concert. Surrounded by such an encouraging and supportive crowd, I hope these contestants continue to pursue their passions. We have seen their potential and I can definitely say, stars were made that night.

 

For more information on our guest judges visit here:

 

  • dumbfoundead(https://www.youtube.com/user/dumbfoundead)
  • DANakaDAN (Dan Matthews) (https://www.youtube.com/user/DANakaDANtv)
  • Sorah Yang (https://www.youtube.com/user/sorahyang)

Let’s help support APA artists!

 

Susana Chan

Advocacy Chair

Keeping it Fresh: A Conversation with Constance Wu

USC APASA held their signature speaker event for APAHF  this year on February 16th. This year we brought the lovely Constance Wu, best known for her role as Jessica Huang from the ABC hit comedy “Fresh Off the Boat” to the campus. With over 400 RSVPs, even an hour before the event, people were lining up outside of Bovard Auditorium - anxious and excited to meet one of the entertainment’s leading Asian American women.  

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Wu talked about her experience in the entertainment business as minority and her journey in learning about her own Asian American identity. She discussed her struggles towards her aspirations from attending in Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the Conservatory for Theatre Arts at S.U.N.Y. Purchase to acting in commercials for McDonalds to finally making it big. Passionate about her acting craft and having studied much of drama, Constance couldn’t help but find it tragic that her claim to fame was through comedy. The event was conducted in a interview style as she responded to questions from MCs Lorna Xu and Jonathan Wang. Audience members even got their chance to ask their own questions. After the event, lucky attendees were given the opportunity for a meet-and-greet with Constance Wu at TCC!

 

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One of Wu’s themes throughout the night was systematic racism and diversity, particularly in the arts. When asked whether she believed the reason there was a lack of Asian American artists was because of a lack of support from the culture, she rejected the thought.

"Creativity can mean so many things and to say the Asian American community doesn't foster creativity, that's false and not fair to say," said Wu.

The "Fresh Off the Boat" actress also took the opportunity to criticize the culture of entertainment business and the those that run the system. She questioned why in romantic movies such as “The Notebook” that the female lead is always sweet and beautiful, rather than overweight and with acne. Addressing the issue of stereotypes and breaking away from them, she acknowledged that in races there will always be the “dweeb” and the “hunk” but neither should make us cringe. This brought up the issue of ignorance of diversity within the director and producer community. In one of the most powerful statements that night, Wu said, “Creators need to have an awareness of what they’re creating and to not use ignorance as an excuse.”

Constance Wu is truly an inspiration and advocate for the APA community. As she continues to tell our story through her time on “Fresh Off the Boat”, she also hopes to eventually bring to light the many other stories of our community. Many students were ecstatic to meet her and expressed their gratitude towards her for being a positive role model. On behalf of USC, we would like to thank Constance Wu for joining us and inspiring many of us in our individual journeys as members of the APA community.

 

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Stefanie Kuizon

APASA Intern

API Activism: Where Do We Fit in the Black Lives Matter Movement?

Hi everyone! I’m Michelle Su, one of the APASA interns for this year. Last Wednesday, February 10 was our first APASA-sponsored APAHF event, “API Activism: Where do we fit in the Black Lives Matter movement?” Since February is Black History Month, we decided to incorporate API solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement into our original discussion topics of the history and current issues in API activism. The event featured a short presentation on the history of API activism, followed by a panel discussion with various API activist leaders in the community.

 

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The panelists talked about a variety of topics, ranging from their work in activism and the API communities, their politicization, their involvement with Black Lives Matter, and how they address anti-blackness in their lives. Ren-Yo Hwang spoke on their work with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and how by talking with the prisoners, they were able to see firsthand the injustices that arise from stereotypes and biases. One story Ren-Yo shared involved a woman who had served much longer time in prison than her Asian friend who had actually planned the theft. This difference of rulings was related to racial stereotypes and the friend’s connections that allowed her to get a lighter sentence. Ren-Yo also discussed the discrimination that queer and transgender people face in dealing with the law.

When asked about how they became politicized in the first place, the panelists told stories about their life experiences and the activist work they have done. Calvin Chang spoke about how where he worked, a police officer mistook the Asian Pacific Islander man as the offender they had reported instead of the white man, pinned him against the wall, and threatened to use his gun. Calvin had to explain that the white man was the person he should have been arresting, and that instance showed him how ingrained racial stereotypes are in society and the law enforcement in particular.

In discussing their involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement, all panelists spoke on the importance of the API community showing solidarity with the Black community. Many of them also mentioned how being in those communities has also allowed them to make lifelong friends and create bonds that reach beyond activist work. Sasha Wijeyeratne spoke about their experiences specifically with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance and the connections they have made within the Queer People of Color, Asian Pacific Islander, and South Asian communities.

All panelists emphasized the importance of getting involved in social justice issues in any way possible and addressing anti-blackness in daily life. Referring to what students can do to get involved now, Andy Su talked about his work with API Equality-LA that actually started from his time at USC.

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After an interesting panel discussion, various student participants asked engaging questions about the panelists’ work and what students can do to combat injustice at this point in their lives. In general, the event was extremely informative and gave new perspectives on what role APIs play in social justice movements.

 

Michelle Su

APASA Intern