Over the past fall and winter quarters, students in Stanford’s Graphic Novel Project course have worked together to create a new graphic novel titled, American Heathen. The novel is the end product of a lengthy creative process and tells the unusual life story of 19th century Asian-American civil rights activist, Wong Chin Foo.
Annual Asian American issues conference Listen to the Silence (LTS) saw an increased number of attendees this past Saturday. This event is the largest event of the year hosted by Stanford Asian American Students’ Association (AASA). This year, the theme of LTS was “Towards Healing: Letting Go, Lifting Up,” centralized around “anger as a process of healing,” according to this year’s mission statement.
The importance of dismantling the “model minority” Asian stereotype is clear. Convenient and unrepresentative aspects of the Asian identity are exalted to demean other minority groups and justify racially oppressive structures. Moreover, the “model minority” myth renders the discrimination and struggle within Asian American communities invisible. As the Stanford campus continues to organize around Ferguson, it is crucial that we reject an ideology designed to pit minorities against each other and immobilize a movement for racial equality.
Stanford’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program is one such service-learning course, and the one through which I have learned the most. ASB is a student-led program housed at the Haas Center that introduces students to complex social and cultural issues through community visits, experiential learning, direct service, group discussions, readings, and reflective activities.
Even as the treatment of student mental health and wellness continues to evolve at Stanford, for many communities on campus such dialogue goes beyond the typical referral to Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) or The Bridge Peer Counseling Center.
I have recently come to this jarring realization — I don’t know any Asian transmen or very many transmen of color. I have several transgender friends at Stanford — we are a tight-knit community. They are people whom I treasure and who I know care for me. I have also reached out to other transgender communities in the area. But in my adventures both inside and outside of the Stanford bubble, I haven’t met any Asian transmen. And as I live in an area that has a large Asian population, it’s really strange.
Two years ago, a friend and I made a documentary for a film class about multiracial students and their experiences at Stanford. One, who was half Chinese, mentioned in her interview how she had never felt attracted to the Asian-American community at Stanford, saying, “I feel like at times they do become very stereotyped, just to be very honest. They become about getting boba, or about eating Asian food, or about other things like that, which to me are cultural elements, but that’s not what it’s really about.”
When I first came to Stanford from a predominantly Caucasian suburb, I was terrified by the sheer number of Asian Americans. This discomfort stemmed from having not been comfortable with my own Asian-American identity. I am half Japanese and half Chinese, speak English at home and hold my chopsticks incorrectly. I joined the Japanese and Vietnamese cultural societies to find my inner Asian but quickly dropped out, feeling out of place.