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May 2022: What Do You Know About AAPI Heritage?

The April CWC gatherings were filled with important conversations, reflections, and continued learning about the problematic ways U.S. immigration policy impacts Black and Brown refugees/asylum seekers. If you were able to join one or more of those conversations, thank you; and if not, we hope you’ll join us for a gathering this month!

In recognition of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we are going to focus the second half of our May gatherings on the history of racism and violence against the AAPI community. We will watch this video to ground ourselves in specific laws and attacks that targeted the AAPI community over the last 150 years. We will also read aloud this excerpt from page 35 of Cathy Park Hong’s book Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning: “When I hear the phrase ‘Asians are next in line to be white,’ I replace the word ‘white’ with ‘disappear.’ Asians are next in line to disappear. We are reputed to be so accomplished, and so law-abiding, we will disappear into this country’s amnesiac fog. We will not be the power but become absorbed by power, not share the power of whites but be stooges to a white ideology that exploited our ancestors. This country insists that our racial identity is beside the point, that it has nothing to do with being bullied, or passed over for promotion, or cut off every time we talk. Our race has nothing to do with this country, even, which is why we’re often listed as “Other” in polls and why we’re hard to find in racial breakdowns on reported rape or workplace discrimination or domestic abuse. It’s like being ghosted, I suppose, where, deprived of all social cues, I have no relational gauge for my own behavior. I ransack my mind for what I could have done, could have said. I stop trusting what I see, what I hear. My ego is in free fall while my superego is boundless, railing that my existence is not enough, never enough, so I become compulsive in my efforts to do better, be better, blindly following this country’s gospel of self-interest, proving my individual worth by expanding my net worth, until I vanish.” To help us focus our thoughts about the video and text above, feel free to think about these questions:

  1. What stood out to you in the video and/or book excerpt? What feelings, if any, came up for you?

  2. What, if anything, did you learn about racism against the AAPI community from the video and/or book excerpt?

  3. How do the video and book excerpt reinforce and/or contradict what you were socialized to believe about members of the AAPI community growing up?

  4. Have you ever witnessed racism against members of the AAPI community? If yes, what did/does it look like? If no, why do you think that is?

  5. What are ways that you are/can support the AAPI community?

As always, if this month’s prompt doesn’t inspire you, don’t let that keep you from joining a gathering. Feel free to come with whatever is on you mind.

“A single seed can turn into a forest. A single heart can transform a nation." Bryan Thao Worra, from Notes Regarding the Living Heart


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