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USC APIFSA Allyship Resource Guide

The Asian Pacific Islander Faculty and Staff Association (APIFSA) was formed in April 2021 in response to the increase in anti-API hatred and violence reported around the country. Our mission is to create a safe space and a strong voice to advocate for API faculty and staff across the USC community.
March 9, 2022

In March 2021, a lone gunman harboring Anti-Asian hate sentiments went on a rampage in Atlanta, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Just weeks prior, an 84-year-old Thai grandfather, Vichar Ratanapakdee, was on his daily walk in San Francisco when he was brutally shoved and killed. In Brooklyn, a 61-year-old Filipino American man, Noel Quintana, was on the L train to Harlem, where he works as an administrative assistant, only to be slashed by a box cutter from ear-to-ear. In San Jose, a 64-year-old Vietnamese grandmother was assaulted and robbed of $1,000 that she had withdrawn for Lunar New Year. Spurred by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the list of violent attacks on our API community is long.

Since March 2020, Stop AAPI Hate has recorded more than 6,600 hate incidents against AsianAmericans in the United States. This includes physical assault, verbal harassment, civil rights violations, refusal of service from business establishments, and murder. But API immigrants have also faced a centuries-long history of discrimination and violence. The Chinese Exclusion Act, the incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II, the hateful anti-South Asian bias in the wake of 9/11 are just a few examples of how anti-API racism and discrimination go beyond these inpidual attacks.

In the years that saw the closing of businesses, skyrocketing unemployment and an ongoingpublic health crisis, the severity of the API struggle has been minimized or gone unnoticed by many.

More than ever, there is a growing need for communities to find safe spaces to discuss these emotional and difficult topics. There is also a growing need for communities to band together as allies, in solidarity to help combat hate, prejudice and discriminatory practices against any marginalized groups.

At its core, this is why USC APIFSA was formed. And our resource guide will hopefully help frame discussions around ALLYSHIP.

Combating Hate

The Psychology of Hate

Hatred is an emotion of extreme dislike, intense hostility and aversion. It is based on our perceptions of others, but is grounded in our relationship with ourselves and our own personal history. These can affect our personality, feelings, ideas, beliefs and identities.

Hate over a long period of time can breed more negative emotions, and extreme hatred can inspire violence. It falsely inflates the ego and makes one feel very superior and self-righteous against the thing or person who is hated.

Understanding API Stereotypes

A good place to begin is for APIs and their allies to acknowledge anti-Asian racism.

Some academics have pointed to the model minority myth as playing a role. Many characterize the racial group as compliant, hard-working, law-abiding, successful inpiduals, and such qualities have led to their success over other racial groups. Coupled with being the racial group least likely to reach out for help, these themes have exacerbated problems for the community.

For many API, asking for help can feel like a mentally insurmountable barrier due to the pressures and expectations that the model minority myth has set.

Historical Context

Asians in America

In 1869, after the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, two of the largest Los Angeles newspapers began running editorials condemning Chinese immigration and attacking the Chinese as “inferior and immoral.” In the wake of these editorials, there was an uptick in racially motivated attacks against Asians. Many were Chinese immigrants brought to the United States to build our railroad infrastructure.

Between 1882 and 1924, U.S. Congress passed a series of laws that banned Asians from immigrating to this country.

  • The first was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which barred Chinese workers from entering the U.S. This also declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization.
  • The immigration acts of 1917 and 1924 created a Barred Zone from the Middle East to Southeast Asia.
  • Asians were not allowed to immigrate to the U.S. until the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act was passed.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, government suspicion rose around all persons of Japanese descent, both issei (foreign born) or nisei (American citizens). From the end of March 1942 to August 1942, approximately 112,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in “relocation camps”. This sparked constitutional and political debate.

Cross-Racial Relations in America

The dynamic of communities of color being pitted against one another has existed throughout history, but this has sparked a variety of initiatives aimed at building crossracial unity.

The history of Black and Asian relations in America is fraught. Anti-Black racism has existed in the Asian community, and anti-Asian racism has existed in the Black community.

  • Societal structures exist with the intention of trying to punish Black people -- from the history of policing in the U.S. to the history of mass incarceration in the country. API have experienced racial violence, but are not the basis of how people organize punishment through society in general.

There were notable moments and figures in history who advocated for unity.

  • From 1765-1880, Filipino sailors known as Manilamen, established the first Filipino American communities in the bayous of Louisiana. The Manilamen fought along the United States in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
  • In 1869, Frederick Douglass advocated for Chinese and Japanese immigration.
  • During the Philippine-American War (1899-1902), Black leaders and soldiers opposed U.S. colonization. Many rejected the idea of subjugating another group of non-White people on behalf of the same country that oppressed and exploited them. Henry M. Turner and Ida B. Wells empathized with the Filipino freedom fighters.
  • From 1965-1970, Filipino farmworkers led the Delano Grape Strike, to protest being barred from citizenship, owning land, living in white neighborhoods and marrying white women, despite filling a massive labor shortage on the West Coast. One of the leaders, Larry Itliong, led members of the Agriculture Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), a predominantly Filipino union, to go on strike against Delano grape growers. He then called Cesar Chavez to ask him if his organization, the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), made up primarily of Mexican American farmworker families, would join AWOC in the strike. NFWA and AWOC united to create the United Farm Workers (UFW), which eventually won the global campaign of the strike.
  • African Americans protested against the Vietnam War (1965-1975). Leaders like Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the racial injustices.
  • The Emergency Detention Act (1967-1971) was repealed due to joint Black and Japanese American activism.
  • Yuri Kochiyama was a Japanese American civil rights activist who befriended Malcolm X and joined his group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. (1963-1965)
  • Grace Lee Boggs was a Chinese American woman who married Black activist James Boggs. She dedicated 70 years of her life advocating and fighting for the Black Power movement.
  • Kiyoshi Kuromiya was a Japanese American author and civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation and HIV/AIDS activist. He was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front Philadelphia. (1943-2000)
  • After Vincent Chin’s murder, Jesse Jackson joined forces with Asian American activists to demand justice. (1982)
  • Asian Americans support Black Lives Matter. (2020)

Why Allies Are Important

Allies are important because they recognize that though they are not a member of the oppressed communities they support, they make a concerted effort to better understand the struggle, every single day.

Because they might have more privilege and recognize this, they are powerful voices alongside the oppressed ones.

Defining Allyship

ALLYSHIP is a lifelong learning process of building trustworthy, consistent and accountable relationships with marginalized inpiduals and groups of people.

An ALLY is any person who actively promotes and aspires to advance the culture of inclusion through intentional, positive and conscious efforts that benefit people as a whole. Everyone has the ability to be an ally -- white people can be actionable allies to people of color, men can be allies to women, cis people can be allies to members of the LGBTQ+ community, economically privileged people can be allies to those less fortunate -- and so on. Words and action must be in sync.

An ally acknowledges the limits of their knowledge about oppressed people’s experiences, but doesn’t use that as a reason to not think and/or act.

An ally does not remain silent but confronts oppression, as it comes up daily, and seeks to deconstruct it institutionally and live in a way that challenges systemic oppression.

An ally doesn’t have it all figured out, but is committed to non-complacency.

Unpacking Privilege and Implicit Bias

Privilege refers to certain social advantages, benefits or degrees of prestige and respect that an inpidual has by virtue of belonging to certain social identity groups. There is a wide range of

consideration for what defines privilege, including gender, race (API and non-API included), and socioeconomic status.

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which can be both favorable and unfavorable

assessments, are activated involuntarily, without an inpidual’s awareness or intentional control.

Both privilege and implicit bias are formed by our socialization, including family, friends, school, media exposure, experiences and work culture. Over a person’s lifetime, both can contribute a

negative impact on education, work and economic opportunities, and perpetuates a cycle of oppression.

Allyship in Action

Non-API friends and colleagues can show support by checking in with API peers, showing they are aware of the news, demonstrating care for their wellbeing and offering specific forms of help.

How to be an effective ally:

As a friend, you might offer your time if they want to talk or extend a nice gesture like sending over food delivery.

Learn to be a better bystander.

  • When you witness someone being targeted, learn to stand up with them.
  • Call out and report racism when you see it.

Lifting others up through advocacy efforts.

  • Amplify content about Anti-API racism and discrimination, through sharing stories and news.
  • Contact your local elected official as a concerned community member and let them know that racism and hate in our communities is not acceptable. Demand action.

Support API-owned businesses or organizations that help the community.

  • Sharing opportunities for growth.
  • In the workplace, for example, by championing someone from an underrepresented community, you can aid in someone’s career progression.

Recognize systematic inequalities and the impact of microaggressions.

  • If you are in a privileged position of power, you have the ability to call out inappropriate behavior towards underrepresented people and be heard.
  • Understand that underrepresented people may feel uncomfortable raising issues due to a fear of retaliation, backlash or risk of jeopardizing professional relationships.
  • Regularly rolling out unconscious bias training can help combat unchecked bias in organizations and institutions. This is a process that takes time for growth and learning in this space.

Believe the lived experiences of underrepresented people.

  • Greater education about the experiences of API in America is crucial to bridging the gaps to end anti-Asian racism.

And most importantly, constructively listen, support, self-reflect and change.

  • Using inclusive language can go a long way to make everyone feel equally accepted, respected and appreciated.
  • Owning your own mistakes and de-centering yourself.
  • Not expecting to be taught or shown.
  • Having uncomfortable conversations with yourself about your own implicit biases and learning to grow beyond them, helps to put you in a position to amplify the voices of those who do not have the ability to speak up.

USC Library Resources

American Race Relations: A Global Perspective: (1941-1996) Reports, publications, and news broadcasts covering America's fight for racial justice, with firsthand analysis of race relations in Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Other Resources to Consider

PBS Series: Asian Americans. This five-part documentary series covers the history of identity, contributions and challenges experienced by Asian Americans.

Teaching Race and Racism in Buddhist Studies: This site offers a top-notch, high quality series of interviews, list of resources, and syllabi for readers who are interested in either educating themselves or teaching others on how Asian American Buddhists had been made an eternal alien in America and what to do about this continual racist culture.

An Excerpt from Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto This is a short article that exposes the racist history and continual presence of racial structure in the academic discipline of philosophy. Bryan Van Norden also provides an extensive but manageable list of resources for readers interested in non-Western philosophies, including but are not limited to Chinese philosophy, Japanese philosophy, African philosophy, indigenous philosophy.

Project Implicit: A series of topic-driven Implicit Association Tests to help you gain a deeper understanding of your own implicit bias.

Advocacy Groups

PDF icon APIFSA Resource Guide on Allyship166.59 KB