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Hey all! This is former co-editor David back from the dead.

This week, I started the Microaggressions tumblr with former Blaaager Vivian. We originally wanted to collect the little incidents and anecdotes in our lives that make our Asian American and intersected experiences marginalized. Then we had the idea to put it up on tumblr and collect submissions.

An email and a Twitter account later, this was born. We've had shoutouts on Jezebel and Racialicious. And now, our very own Asian American Alliance blog.

Please send it to your friends and loved ones! Submit posts you have encountered yourself!

Who is Steve Li?
Steve Li is currently being detained in Arizona for immediate deportation. On September 15, 2010, ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement) raided Steve’s home and arrested his family. Steve is ethnically Chinese but was born in Peru and was brought to the United States when he was just 11 years old. Steve was not even aware of his immigration situation until the raid. Now he has been detained for over a month and is set for deportation to Peru any day now. He has no family or friends in Peru and would be homeless upon arrival. He is a warm and loving person and all he wants to do is finish school at the City College of San Francisco and pursue nursing. He qualifies as a DREAM Act student.
For more information, read this article.

What can you do to help Steve?
Call: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, John Morton
ICE Office: (202) 282-8495, if voicemail box full, call live line (202) 732-3000Script: “Hi, I’m calling to leave a message of support for Shing Ma “Steve” Li A#076-143-010 who is scheduled to be deported on Monday. Steve is pursuing a degree in nursing and he is an asset to our community. I ask that John Morton please step in and defer his deportation, thank you.”

We, the concerned members of UC Berkeley’s Asian American student community, condemn the isolation, detention and potential deportation of City College of San Francisco student Steve Li and urge elected officials to amend this injustice.On September 15, 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials apprehended Steve Li, a 20 year-old nursing student at City College. Li, who was born in Peru, is currently being held alone in Arizona and awaiting deportation to his birth country. His parents were since released and are awaiting potential deportation to China; however, ICE officials have neglected to explicate why Li was separated from his family. Li’s story is simply one of the expected 400,000 deportations that will be occurring this fiscal year, almost 10 percent over the Bush administration’s 2008 total.
While it is legally correct that the Li family broke the law in illicitly staying in San Francisco, their story illustrates that the law itself is inherently broken. Until his arrest, Li was unaware of his illegal status and simply attempting to live the tale of hard work and perseverance indoctrinated into every American. Li’s family did in fact previously attempt to gain documentation, but their petition for political asylum was denied in 2003 and in 2004. This case is a testament to the fractured immigration system that, on a quotidian basis, deals out inhumane treatment to a racialized underclass–including the prized “model minority” of stratified American society.
As Asian Americans and students at Berkeley, however, we do not aim to advocate for Li because he is a disempowered individual. Our outrage is predicated by the fact that Li is a student just like us and could have been anyone in our communities. According to a report by the University of California Office of the President, Asian/Pacific Islander students constitute 40-44% of undocumented students in the UC system. For obvious reasons, undocumented students of any race typically do not put their illegal statuses up for exhibition. Though we may not know who among our friends and classmates are next, we do know that unjust institutional factors constantly threaten members of our community whose struggles are most invisible.
It is imperative to recognize that Li’s case is not a historical juggernaut for our community. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred the immigration of Chinese nationals to the U.S., emerging as the first conspicuously racist exclusive immigration law in this nation’s history. The California Alien Land Act of 1913 prohibited Asians already in the country (referred to as “aliens ineligible for citizenship”) from owning property. Given that the first anti-immigrant laws targeted Asian Americans over a century ago and that we are about to deport an Asian American for a crime he didn’t even realize he committed, it is blatantly incorrect to say that we have learned from our past and that our history of facing discrimination is over. It is for this reason that we denounce the detention of Steve Li and urge elected officials to stand up against it, for our communities, and for our future.
[APAC] Asian Pacific American Coalition
[hb] hardboiled asian/pacific american newsmagazine
[PASS] Pilipino Academic Student Services
[REACH!] Asian/Pacific Islander Recruitment/Retention Center
[SASC] Southeast Asian Student Coalition
and in solidarity,
Columbia University Asian American Alliance
Why Columbia’s AAA is standing in solidarity with UC Berkeley Asian American student groups?
This is simply because UC Berkeley responded a bit urgently than Columbia AAA did and it is necessary that this statement is released as soon as possible. Columbia AAA is also currently in the process of writing a statement in hopes to have other student groups on campus and on the East Coast to sign on it.
(Compiled and edited by Belle Yan)

Reaction Post

Not that you should ever read Bwog comments, since they are as informative and placating as SFGate comments, but here is one on the Town Hall on Barnard's recognition of sororities:


Two arguments:

Clearly, IGC shouldn’t get money or be allowed to distribute money for members of sororities who are Barnard students and do not pay the appropriate fees.

If this means that sororities stop allowing Barnard students, so be it.
If this means Barnard starts charging students more for the fund, so be it.

As a male CC student, I would only be okay with my money funding Barnard girls if I had received my quota of drunk Barnard-sorority sister sex. But I haven’t. So see above.

Sad, Sad, Sad Asian

Without passing judgment on the first comment, sarcasm or not, why must every guy who cannot get a girl be Asian? It was unprovoked, there was no conversation about race on the whole page, it's simply a comment that came out of nowhere.

Uh. WTF?

September has failed to pass the Dream Act in Congress. The Dream Act is legislation that would have enabled children who were brought to the United States by their illegal parents to gain a path to citizenship if they entered college or the military after high school. Many of these children have grown up accustomed to calling the U.S their home. It just doesn't make any sense to deport 'Americans' out to a country foreign to them, losing valuable contributing citizens of our society. As an immigrant myself, I am disappointed at the turn out of this long awaited legislation.

Why is there such a bitter anti-immigrant sentiment amongst our legislative sectors? Have we forgotten that even the Forefathers that carved the backbones of the American Constitution were descendants of immigrants? Have we forgotten that outside of the rightful Native Americans that are wrongfully quarantined in reservations we are all descendants of immigrants? Immigrants work backbreaking hours day in and day out, tending to crop fields, cleaning your toilets, working in unruly conditions for meager wages, at jobs Americans find dirty and degrading. How are they taking YOUR jobs.

Has America gone insane?

Dear reader(s),

I hope your summers have been well. Amidst the sunshines, Moscow heat waves, and flood in Pakistan, I want to thank you again for tuning in with us here at theblaaag. So the question still remains, 'Where are our editors?' As the previous update mentioned, David and Marilla were seniors the last time this editor's corner was updated. And one-plus year later, the two founders have graduated from the Columbia undergraduate community and are probably doing something to better the world. A few months ago, both submitted Blaaag Senior Wisdom pieces, which I hope you will be interested in reading. (Marilla's, David's). As your new moderators, Annie and I hope to keep the site updated while still maintaining the original styles and formatting our previous editors created. Please check out our new staff page and see who's posting today!

Stay tuned.

Link Roundup

Judge Blocks Parts of Arizona's Immigration Law (NY Times)
The big news of the day. Any celebrating is of course, a bit premature - what is horrible about SB 1070 is not just its content but that it merely formalizes a lot of practices and anti-immigrant, anti-Latino/a sentiment that has been ongoing and will continue for quite some time.

Afghan War Diary, 2004 - 2010 (WikiLeaks)
An overwhelming amount of classified information relating to the current war in Afghanistan. The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel all have their own features analyzing the leak. If you are generally terribly pessimistic about US military operations there won't be a whole lot to surprise you but it's still a fascinating read. Just as fascinating is WikiLeaks as an organization itself - the New Yorker has an excellent profile on its founder Julian Assange. This is also a good companion to the domestically focused Top Secret America feature over at the Washington Post from last week.

Essence Hires White Fashion Director, Leaves Loyal Readers Asking Why (Clutch Magazine)
I don't have much to add, other than that it's depressing that I should even have to say that the idea of a "post-racial" America is ridiculous, but here we are again.

Court's Leniency Ruling Is Too Late for Deportees (NY Times)
Given AAA's involvement with the Qing Wu case (big what up to Annie and Belle!) this article sounds pretty familiar. This quote struck me in particular though - "the Obama administration...is on track to deport a record 400,000 people this fiscal year."

There's been a lot of things to get angry, upset, and disturbed by recently (actually, always), but I figured I'd ease into blogging with a slightly more accessible topic.

APA media representation increasingly seems to be the defining cause for mainstream, neoliberal APA youth activism; a development that I'm not exactly thrilled by. Yes, yes, the whitewashing of The Last Airbender is frustrating, but when the battle lines are drawn this narrowly it becomes easy to slip into highly problematic positive/negative, good/bad image binaries that tend to exclude just as much as they include. It causes victories to be as narrowly defined as the kid in Up and the latest role John Cho is cast in. There's a lot more to be said about this, but I'll save that for a more lengthy, theoretical post later on.

Despite all of my serious misgivings with media representation politics, I still can't help but smile at this quote from a recent post by Atlantic blogger and Vassar professor Hua Hsu on basketball player Jeremy Lin and the upcoming reality show K-Town:

As someone who grew up seeing very few Asian Americans on television, I still find myself mystified, even thrilled, whenever I come across one, even if my views on media representation have softened. There's something irrationally and inexplicably bemusing about these moments.
I really couldn't put it more perfectly. Sometimes it's easy for me to forget that when I was a Chinese kid growing up in an overwhelmingly white, Midwestern suburb, I was the yellow Power Ranger for Halloween (seriously) and Shelby Woo, not Nancy Drew, was my hero. And it's easy for me to gloss over my brief but strange obsession with the children's show Ni Hao Kai-Lan, where I'd camp out on the couch, utterly fascinated that there was someone on Nick Jr. speaking Mandarin and eating noodles. Of course, this isn't to say that my viewing practices are in spite of politics or separate from them (the show isn't so much targeted at APA children as it is a response to the increasing "utility" of Mandarin proficiency, Kai-Lan lives with her stoic yeye because...obviously), but that the combination makes for a surreal, complicated, and yet highly enthralling experience.

All of this is to say - I am so fucking excited for K-Town.

I was at the bank today when a woman barged through the doors wailing. Be it that I live in a Chinese bubble, everyone in the bank, the tellers, managers, customers, were all Chinese [American]. The woman had apparently withdrawn 2300 dollars in cash from Chase bank and wanted to transfer it to another bank. She left the vicinity and returned thereafter because the teller at the other bank claimed that the bills in her hands were counterfeit. The woman was frantic and threatening the teller at Chase that she'd call the police. The teller, oblivious to the woman in front of her, continued with her work and pointed her towards the manager. The customers on the line, including myself, were shaken. How can a big brand name bank give out fake bills? The woman approached the bank manager, and was ignored. The manager continued with her phone call and did not move from her seat even after she had hung up, completely ignoring the woman waiting in front of her desk. The woman began to scream, yelling injustices in two Chinese dialects. Go ahead, call the cops, the manager said, not once raising her voice.

I was appalled and stared at the scenario before leaving the bank. I forget sometimes how different things function in Brooklyn, compared to the comfortable Upper West Side (Manhattan) services that I've grown to spoil myself with while away at school. I obviously do not know the whole story, and my portrayal of the events may or may not have been accurate, but it reminds me of how differently we treat one another because of our shared heritage, or lack thereof. In this case, it seems in my neighborhood at least, Asians treat "Americans" much more respectfully than their fellow Asians. In restaurants, banks, bookstores, and all kinds of shops, I've witness the odd tendencies and injustices that Asians commit against one another. The bank manager knew the customer could not speak English, and regardless of her incessant threats that she'll dial 911, we all know the woman would not have been able to communicate her woes to the operator. The manager was right that nothing can be done about the bills. The woman had left the bank and no one knew if she could have swapped the fifties before returning. However, the complete lack of professionalism the manager displayed makes my head drop in agony. Had this woman been an "American," would the manager have acted differently? Had this woman known English, would the manager at least have the decency to glance at the complaint. Why is it that when Asian Americans provide service to fellow Asian(s) [Americans], we observe such a discrepancy? Why do we kiss-ass whites while downplaying others?

I've always hated it when people tell me that Asian Americans lack the unity that is necessary for a movement. I resented it because a part of me knew it was true. Behind the model minority myths, and the stereotypes, we're so torn between those [Asian Americans] who believe that we can rise in American society as we are now, and others who realize that we need the political empowerment to justify our existence as just Americans. While we do boast high percentages of our population in professional careers, (e.g, doctors, lawyers, etc), I feel we are a long way from social progress in that sense. While many professionals acknowledge, embrace, and attributes parts of their success their backgrounds, many do not.

Recently, I've also become quite angry about the 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' casting issue. Many have called us racists for opposing an all white cast when the producers and the director have stated repeatedly that they only picked the best persons for the job. However, they fail to see the real issue. There are so many talented Asian American actors out there, and rarely do we see an opportunity open up for them on the big screen. Most of the scripts written in Hollywood do not call for an Asian lead, but I feel Avatar had that potential. The discussion then becomes an argument over whether the main protagonist of the series was indeed Asian. Many feel because of the ambiguity of anime, the characters can be anything. Well then, my argument still holds. Never can an ethnic minority play a white man's role, so when an ambiguous role comes along, why won't you give the Asian man a chance?

Well in the end, the movie was a flop and I'm quite tired from bickering with people on these forums. Why are we targeting a single movie? Why do we not put more Asian Americans in power in the movie industry to increase our own representation?... But as it turns out, Asian Americans hold a good number of seats in the industry.

Quoting from Hollywood and Asians: Do we really need more Asian Americans In Positions of Power?:
"We're our own worst enemies....We're taught to assimilate, to not make waves, to be followers. Maybe once we're allowed into that exclusive club, we wait to fit in so badly that we don't want to give the impression that we're favoring "our own," sometimes to the point of going in the opposite direction and making an effort to reject our community."

Maybe I'm going too far with this, but it does set up for quite a bit of discussion.

Oh, the Grand Old Party. They have provided me with so many great hours of pure entertainment. Recently, they have launched a new site titled 'America's Speaking Out' intended to 'connect' the public with congress so that the national law makers can understand what America truly wants. Obviously, the republicans have no concept of internet trolls and forum gunners. The website has been getting tens of thousands of views within hours, showing us that America is definitely speaking out. So what do Americans really want?

1. "Sometimes when I get to the bottom of the yogurt cup, the shape makes it harder to get the last bites. I tried using both a spoon and a fork, with some luck. I think Yoplait should redesign their package so it's easier to get to the bottom of the yogurt."

2. “We should make english the official language of the US and stop spending tax dollars on translations for mexicans! if english is good enough for baby jesus, its good enough for Americans”

3. "Make iPhones available through Verizon! AT&T has fairly poor service and coverage, and a lot of Americans would love to own an iPhone but would not sign up with AT&T."

4. “eliminating minimum wage laws will allow companies to hire many more Americans for just a fraction of the price. If Mexicans can work for 2$ an hour, so can we.”

5. “I'm so sick of evolutionists peddling their anti christ agenda. Leading Christian scientists have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the Jews buried the dinosaur fossils back in the 1920s.


And now, without further ado, I would like to share with you all a website presented to us by the GOP. ENJOY!!


Happy Summer!

1. Name
Marilla Li

2. Plans after graduation
Concrete goals include: Full-time gig doing Health Education at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center down in Chinatown; film production and outreach for THE LINE campaign (www.whereisyourline.org); submitting a short fiction piece that never seems to get done, will never get funded, and may not even see a single film festival.

Loftier, less attainable goals include: Studying for the GREs, implementing better sex and health ed programs in schools, obtaining an MPH and an MA in film, blogging (with David?), and generally continuing to spread awareness on all issues concerned with gender, sexuality, and health.

3. Favorite hang out spot(s) on campus
Zanny's, Max Soha, SIPA Lehman Library, the Columbia University Equipment Room (no one ever notices it's there until they have to go), the Well-Woman Office (119 Reid Hall), all parts of the Diana (Despite the uproar about the APAAM flyers, you should know that Barnard students--maybe not faculty and administrators--embrace it as "the Vag" too), and finally, the recesses of my questionable sanity.

4. Things you wish you knew earlier in your college career
That coalition building is one of the most difficult and necessary things to implement in a college campus; that every peer and authority deserves more credit than received; that it's your own choice to produce commitment and consistency in your work; that our identities exist in a "multiplicity"; that it's better to communicate frustration and anxiety than to feign normalcy; and that despite being validated by esteemed institutions like Barnard or Columbia, one can't ever lay claim to knowing or understanding anything.

5. If you had the power, how would you remedy the current oil 'spill'?
First, I would educate myself on what is happening over at the Gulf. Second, I would try to educate others about what is happening through different media outlets, while simultaneously spreading consciousness about the positions of power that these different outlets have (e.g. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/o/oil_spills/gulf_of_mexico_2010/). Third, I would build an archive of these different resources and critically examine the ways that the information is being transmitted. Rather than accept information as it is, readers and viewers should always be critical. Who is transmitting this information? What stake do they have in discussing the oil spill? What other countries have experienced or are currently experiencing a similar situation? Have we heard about those other incidents or not, and why? This unfolds not only the networks of power that underpin the incidents leading up to the oil spill, but also what media is doing to negotiate and mediate those networks.

6. Additional comments
You always have the power.

1. Name: David Zhou
2. Plans after graduation: Flying places, biking places, workin' on my knowledgez! Aka traveling and more school.
3. Favorite hang out spot(s) on campus: Any room in which you can see the sunset over New Jersey. Any kitchen where friends convene to cook.
4. Things you wish you knew earlier in your college career: How incredible the consent orientation training + program is, how to use student power effectively, and the glory of Beyoncé Knowles.
5. If you had the power, how would you remedy the current oil 'spill'? That's a big "if". I want to bankrupt BP, but I want a lot of things.
6. Additional comments: (1) Listen to people, critically. (2) Be open to ideas, but never take them for granted. (3) Lastly, while there is no substitute for being a kind human being, you don't have to be nice to do good. Trouble the water. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was short, sweet and - hey - written in a student magazine: "Pick fights. Those are my two words of advice to future generations... (1) Pick (2) Fights."

Dear Readers,

It is May 12th, 3:15am. I want to take this moment to congratulate all the seniors that will be completing their undergraduate careers. I want to thank all of you for making a difference on and off campus during your time in college. No one can ever sum up the memories you all have helped us create in mere words. For this, thank you.

However, before you graduate, I hope you'll also take some time to give us some words of wisdom.

The questions are as follows:

1. Name
2. Plans after graduation
3. Favorite hang out spot(s) on campus
4. Things you wish you knew earlier in your college career
5. If you had the power, how would you remedy the current oil 'spill'?
6. Additional comments


Hey everyone! I just wanted to say a quick shout-out about an event that's coming up: an Asian American Health Disparities Panel! Hosted by AAA, the event's happening next Friday, the 12th, at 7:30pm in the Satow Room in Lerner! As posted on the Facebook event page (linked here):

Health disparities are NEVER on the Asian American agenda, even though the average American household spends over 15% of its income on health care.

We will grow to comprise over 5% of the American population in the upcoming years and yet the Asian American voice is one of the most neglected minority voices in the United States. Health disparities are a hush-hush topic that households try to avoid, and the lack of sufficient national research studies done to support the present Asian American population is a cause for concern. Our main goal with the panel is to try to stir that sentiment, that voice!, to hope and encourage more studies done in this field.

The panelists include Ms. Alexandra Belcher, Dr. Ming-Der Chang, Dr. Shobha Krishnan, Dr. Dennis Yi-Shin Kuo, and Director Rebecca Sze.
Everyone on the board is really excited about this: we'll be exploring issues like cervical cancer and Hep-B rates, mental health, health care access, and stereotypes that may perpetuate these issues. Come on over, and bring your friends! This should be very interesting.

=) Annie

Hey, loyal readers of the blog! I know I'm late (two weeks late now, to be precise) to call out the New Year, but just wanted to say that as a new semester approaches, we at the BLAAAG and on the Asian American Alliance surely want to wish you all a good year! We will be quite busy, and with a whole lot of resolutions for 2010 (blogging more, anyone?). We will be getting ready for ECAASU soon, holding different panels such as an Asian American Health Disparities panel, holding our second Crossroads conference for Asian American high-schoolers, and much more! And I'm back from Hong Kong, ready to start a fresh semester at Columbia, as will other contributors to the site. Keep it moving! (And soon, we'll be able to say Happy New Year once again: the Lunar New Year, that is! It falls on Valentine's Day this year.)


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