A Statement from a Collective of AAPI Students

For further context, please see the bluestockings editors statement.

INTRODUCTION

We, a collective of Asian/Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students at Brown University, write this statement out of deep concern for the recent decisions of the Brown Daily Herald (The Herald) to publish egregiously offensive and racist content.

The Herald’s staff privileges writers who continue in the legacy of white supremacy, further marginalizing students already systemically oppressed by the University. In an effort to recenter and stand in solidarity with Native and Indigenous students, we call attention to The Herald’s errors and their history of racism. Due to the racist underpinnings of this incident, we also call AAPI community members to interrogate the ways in which we are complicit in the erasure of Native and Indigenous people. Moreover, we cannot view AAPI and Indigenous identity as separate—there are AAPI people who hold Indigenous identity. We, as a community that experiences a continued history of racism and colonization, must evaluate, address, and decolonize our own actions. Finally, we aim to hold both the The Herald’s staff and the University accountable for the violences they perpetuate against Native and Indigenous peoples, and broader communities of color at and around the University since its inception.

ON THE HERALD

On October 5th and 6th, two columns were posted in the Opinions section of The Herald. These columns were entitled “The White Privilege of Cows” and “Columbian Exchange Day,” both were written by the same author, and both were, at their core, racist and non-factual. Among the many offensive claims made by the columns was a direct invalidation of Native and Indigenous students’ planned action to hold a demonstration on October 12th demanding that the University rename Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “Columbian Exchange Day” in particular called for Native students to be thankful for colonization and the Columbian Exchange. Immediate backlash over the columns ensued, largely led by student leaders of color on this campus.

The Herald responded by blaming their decisions on an “internal error,” a reprehensible effort to distract students from the avenues through which the pieces had to be revised and edited by The Herald’s staff before publication. By no means is this an isolated incident for The Herald, which has a long history of providing an elitist platform for racist and discriminatory content under a guise of seeking “controversial material;” nor is it an isolated incident on this campus.

We denounce The Herald for their utter senselessness and negligence in the editorial process. We condemn The Herald for their lack of accountability, responsibility, and any substantial reparations following the publishings. We also acknowledge that no apology can sufficiently rectify the violence enacted by The Herald in silencing, speaking for, and erasing Native and Indigenous students. A publication of such prominence and prestige is obligated to maintain a certain quality that includes, at minimum, factual accuracy and a meticulous editorial process. The Herald is obligated to amplify the voices of marginalized students, and obligated to ensure it does not provide a platform for ableist, classist, cissexist, heterosexist, imperialist, racist, and sexist content.

The “Joint Statement to the Brown Daily Herald,” written and signed by the leaders of various Black student organizations and individual Black students, outlines the wrongdoings of The Herald and issues demands for structural changes within The Herald. We support the demands listed within the statement and share the sentiments expressed within it. In particular, we wish to highlight this section:

“The impact of this article cannot be retracted. We urge BDH’s Editors to realize how this publication has defaced Native Americans at Brown’s event and shifted the discourse surrounding Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The BDH must ensure that egregious and avoidable “mistakes” such as these do not occur again. It is only in doing this that the BDH can hope to regain the trust of its readers and the undergraduate community who it has notably harmed over the last two days.

The Brown Daily Herald is at fault. The entire organization should reflect on its offenses and reform its editorial processes which allow such “internal errors” to take place. We refuse to be silent. We deserve and demand better from this organization. We hold the Brown Daily Herald accountable.

—Black Organizations, Leaders, and Students at Brown University

 

In addition, we support any statements or demands towards The Herald that may be issued by Native and Indigenous students in response to these grievances. If these demands are not met in a timely and empathetic manner, the University must actively discourage alumni from financially supporting The Herald.

ON AAPI COMPLICITY

On Facebook, the writer of the columns argued that she, as “an East Asian girl,” could not be a “white supremacist.” As people of color, we want to make it explicitly clear that we too can be invested in white supremacy, especially when it provides us with privileges at the expense of other people of color. Asian American students are direct participants in settler colonialism. In order for Asian Americans to exist as (im)migrants and the children of (im)migrants with access to this institution, Native people were violently removed from lands that enslaved Black people were then forced to build upon. These violences and patterns cannot be relegated to the past, as their legacies continue to affect Native and Black people.

In weaponizing the model minority myth, white supremacy broadcasts the economic success of a narrow subset of Asian Americans in the United States to justify the oppression of Native and Black communities. AAPI complicity and active participation in white supremacy can and does happen. This complicity upholds the systemic oppression of all communities of color. As AAPI people, our own shared histories of imperialism are connected to those of other people of color. Histories of imperial violence influenced voluntary and forced Asian American migration to the United States, and distinct histories of colonialism dispossessed Pacific Islanders from their lands. However, our identification with other people of color does not absolve us from the potential damage we can cause. Rather, we must be even more thoughtful and compassionate in the ways we build coalition with communities of color whose oppression we have historically benefited from.

Additionally, the University is a settler-colonial project that we, as AAPI students, participate in. The University’s campus stands upon the land of Wampanoag and Narragansett Nations. Although The Herald has a long history of publishing racist content, in this case, we must pay attention to the way the author’s column specifically perpetuates and enacts anti-Indigenous violence. We must examine our positions and take responsibility as AAPI peoples on Native and Indigenous peoples’ lands for upholding the colonial-settler state.

A CALL TO ACTION FOR THE AAPI COMMUNITY

It is not enough to discuss. We must act. In responding to Native Americans at Brown and Native American Heritage Series’ call for “other POCs on campus to demonstrate our solidarity of experiencing various oppressions that are a result from colonization in the Americas,” we call on AAPI students to participate in the upcoming demonstrations and to continue working in solidarity with Native and Indigenous students.

The die-in on Friday, October 9th, is a pre-demonstration action “to raise awareness of the indigenous genocide that Columbus Day celebrates and to show the Brown community why the name change is important. It will be 52 minutes and 30 seconds to signify the 523 years of indigenous resistance since Columbus.” The protest on Monday, October 12th, is a demonstration to “petition the University to change the name of Fall Weekend to Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” an action we wholeheartedly support.

CONCLUSION

We condemn The Herald for its continued history of providing an institutional platform for racist and exclusionary hate speech. We hold The Herald accountable for its erasure and neglect of Native and Indigenous people through the publication of these opinions columns. As the oldest publication of Brown University, The Herald is privileged as one of the most visible student newspapers to the general public, and their articles and columns carry an immense amount of power. It is time for all of us to look at our roles in allowing content like this to be legitimized through campus journalism, and more broadly at our roles in erasing the stories of Native and Indigenous students at the University and peoples in Providence and beyond.

To the Herald, AAPI students, the broader student body, and Brown University: you are being held responsible. The world is watching, and we will make sure you are too.

 

In solidarity with Native and Indigenous students and other students of color at Brown,

On behalf of Archipelag-a,

Mae-Richelle Verano ’17 & Marielle Bugayong ’17, Co-Coordinators

 

On behalf of Asian/Asian American Heritage Series,

Jieyi Cai ’17 & Kristine Mar ’18, Co-Coordinators

 

On behalf of Asian American Students Association,

Fue Vue ’17, Co-Chair & Kota Mizutani ’17, Treasurer

 

On behalf of Brown Asian Sisters Empowered,

Jea Yun Sim ’17 & Vi Mai ’17, Co-Coordinators

 

On behalf of Brown Campaign for Burma,

Khin Su ’16, Co-President

 

On behalf of Brown’s Organization of Multiracial/Biracial Students,

Paxon Chang 18, Representative

 

On behalf of Brown Taiwan Society,

Claire Su ’17, President

 

On behalf of Brown University Hmong and Miao Association,

Aimee Vue ’18 & Brian Yang ’18, Co-Coordinators

 

On behalf of Brown South Asian Students Association,

Soham Rege ’16, President

 

On behalf of Brown Vietnamese Students Association

An Truong ’17 & Tung Nguyen ’17, Co-Presidents

 

On behalf of Ethnic Studies Departmental Undergraduate Group,

Aanchal Saraf  ’16, DUG Leader

 

On behalf of Filipino Alliance,

Danielle Peterson ’17 & Michelle Zabat ’18, Co-Chairs

 

On behalf of First-Gens@Brown,

Viet Nguyen ’17, Co-President

 

On behalf of Hapa Club,

Jesamine Dyus ’16, Co-President

 

On behalf of Hindu Students Association,

Sohum Chokshi ’18 & Sarita Shaku ’17, Co-Coordinators


On behalf of Jews of Mixed Identity Group,
Hannah Liu ’16, President

 

On behalf of Pan Asian Council,

Jeron Impreso ’17 & Mary Nguyen ’17, Co-Coordinators

 

On behalf of Queer Alliance,

Chris Styles ’18, Head Chair

 

On behalf of Queer & Asian,

Thao Nguyen ’16, Head Coordinator

 

On behalf of VISIONS,

Lisa Lee ’17, Editor-in-Chief & Soyoon Kim ’18, Managing Editor

 

On behalf of the Women of Color Collective,

Annie Furuyama ’18, Co-Coordinator

 

Signing as individuals,

August Guang PhD ’18

 

Jennifer Tsai ’14 MD ’18

Amy LaCount ’13 MD ’19

Radhika Rajan ’15 MD ’19

 

Anna Byon ’15 UEP ’16

Clare Kim ’15 MAT ’16

Jenny Li ’14 MAT ’16

Sarah Day Dayon ’15 MAT ’16

Victor Ha ’15 MAT ’16

 

Alissa Rhee ’16

Darius Chyou ’16

Dora Chu ’16

Eric Nguyen ’16

Frances Anne Aquino ’16

Glenys Ong ’16

Hannah Liu ’16

Heather Jue-Wong ’16

Heidi Chang ’16

Hochan “Sonny” Kim ’16

Isabella Alyssia Betita ’16

Jeannie Le ’16

Johnathan Bui ’16

Liying Zhu ’16

Melanie Abeygunawardana ’16

Phuc Anh Tran ’16

Sana Teramoto ’16

Wonho Rhee ’16

 

Aditya Kumar ’17

Andy Li ’17

Chrysanthemum Tran ’17

Claire Su ’17

Fatima Husain ’17

Gareth Chen ’17

Hye In Sarah Lee ’17

Jackie Gu ’17

Joy Yamaguchi ’17

Nancy Truong ’17

Regine Rosas ’17

Ryan Lee ’17

Siddharth Marthi ’17

Soumitri Barua ’17

Sovijja Pou ’17

Sung Hee Han ’17

Viet Nguyen ’17

 

Aarish Rojiani ’18

Amy Wang ’18

Animesh Mahapatra ’18

Arria Lakha ’18

Basundhara Mukherjee ’18

Christina Chu ’18

Christine Lee ’18

Devanshi Nishar ’18

Emily Sun ’18

Erica Oh ’18

Grace Zhang ’18

Karine Liu ’18

Kenji Endo ’18

Kevin Do ’18

Koko Nakajima ’18

Megan Ly ’18

Miranda Chao ’18

Shanti Mechery ’18

Sheena Raza Faisal ’18

Shivam Agarwal ’18

Sonia Mittal ’18

Trisha Jain ’18

Yuri Iwahara ’18

Yuzuka Akasaka ’18

Yvonne Fong ’18

 

An Zhou ’19

Andrew Park ’19

Andy Pham ’19

Angela Zhuo ’19

Cassey Cha ’19

Daniel Cho ’19

Janine Goetzen ’19

Julian Gau ’19

Kathy Thach ’19

Kim Pham ’19

Penmai Chongtoua ’19

Sydney Gang ’19

Valerie Santos ’19

Victoria Huynh ’19

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