Monday, January 19, 2015

Loose Lips Sink Ships.....

......Asian Privilege And Self-Sabotage.

Over the past three years or so, a new hope has emerged amongst Asian advocates of a way to wedge the community into the race dialogue without going to the trouble of first formulating a bothersome autonomous narrative of an Asian racial experience. Whisperings and rumors began to swirl of a powerful new entity whose emergence from the light would propel Asians out of the darkness of the facts of their own experiences to morph into a vestigial appendage, like a bubo under the armpit of, anti-blackness. Its name was.....Asian Privilege.

I first became aware of the idea of Asian Privilege back in 2012 from a post in Hyphen Magazine that asked the question; Is There Privilege in Being Asian American? Written by Bruce Reyes Chow, the piece says this......
As Asian Americans, if we are going to stand in solidarity with our African American brothers and sisters, we must not only acknowledge our forms of privilege, but leverage the influence that comes with that privilege in order to serve as allies to Black communities as well as other marginalized groups. There is privilege for many Asian Americans in not generally being perceived as threatening, which allows us to move about public spaces without eliciting suspicion.
My first thought is to wonder why it is so important to "acknowledge our privilege" but seemingly not so important to acknowledge that as beings with agency who make moral choices and utilize reason and rational thinking, that we might have a more sophisticated set of reasons to stand in solidarity with anyone suffering injustice. My sense of justice or altruism alone would surely be enough to warrant a moral decision in favor of standing with any oppressed group against injustice? Aside from that, my sense of compassion, empathy, sympathy, or simple good-will should impel me to side with the cause of justice and fairness.

Privilege - particularly the idea of owning it - simply is not a part of the equation. My second thought on the quote above is how bizarre it is that not being seen as threatening can be conceived of as a privilege. In the context of the Asian-American racial experience a more accurate statement would be to say that Asians are simply not seen, threatening or not - and that is a function of anti-Asian stereotyping. Most interesting, though, is this idea of leveraging this privilege to serve allies and other oppressed groups, particularly when that privilege consists of invisibility. How can a disadvantage - like invisibility - be leveraged to influence anything?

On the whole, the article actually does a fair job of highlighting some of the ways that racism impacts Asian-Americans but never really provides a clear illustration or definition of what Asian privilege is. Mention is made of immigration and academic privileges, but being allowed to immigrate in the same manner as other groups is far from being a privilege, and it is merely conjecture (bordering on inflammatory) to claim that Asians have access to academic settings merely because of assumptions.

This is the general problem that I have with the narrative of Asian privilege; no-one seems able to quite pin down what it means or even give reasonable examples of it in action. Even more importantly, since it is such a vague notion, and little more than a value judgment, the assertion of Asian privilege exists merely as one more sweeping generalization about Asian-Americans.

Since the Hyphen piece was published there have been several articles in the Asian-American media where the existence and notion of Asian privilege has been further referenced, asserted or discussed. Most of the ones I have read take the existence of Asian privilege as a given, although there is still much vagueness about how it manifests, or even why these manifestations should even be thought of as privilege. The basis for this assertion of Asian Privilege seems to lie in various stats that show high Asian college achievement and a healthy income level that, for some Asian groups, surpasses that of even the white community.

But none of these statistical analyses come even remotely close to showing that privileges are somehow imparted to Asians from the white establishment in order to help keep blacks in their place, or even that there is such a conveyance of privilege at all. There is simply no reason to believe that Asians are the recipients of any advantageous treatment at all. In fact, the possibility that Asians are even outperforming whites actually is a point against the notion of Asian privilege since it seems absurd to think that Asians would be given advantages by a racist white establishment that would result in what is fundamentally a disadvantage for whites. In other words, I am being asked to believe that a racist white establishment is driven to undermine blacks so much that they are willing to privilege Asians even over whites to achieve it? That is known as cutting off your nose to spite your face and the mere suggestion of it is worthy only of derision.

Even worse, though, is the possibility that by claiming privilege, Asians have hurt the black struggle for justice. The co-opting of the idea of Asian Privilege by Adam Carolla and Bill O'Reilly last year shows just why Asians shoot themselves in the foot every time they come up with one of these convoluted schemes that attempt to frame the Asian experience of race in the context of anti-blackness. No conservative even thought to think of Asians as having privilege until, that is, Asian-Americans themselves came up with the bright idea of interpreting the various data points of Asian "success" as some kind indication of imparted privilege. Of course, I cannot possibly know whether Carolla and O'Reilly were influenced by Asian-American musings on Asian privilege, but there is little doubt that Asian-Americans themselves bear the brunt of the responsibility for formulating and propagating an idea that has been picked up on and utilized by the very race-baiters they abhor.

The problem is that if Asian Privilege is real, then devoid of comprehensive evidence for it, O'Reilly's inferences are as valid as anyone's. If you can infer Asian privilege from a group of stats, then you can with equal validity infer black dysfunction from the same data set. Even worse, if we infer that the white establishment does indeed proffer privileged treatment to one minority, it is equally valid to infer that such an offer is a meritorious consideration - a clear point in favor of the notion that blacks aren't trying hard enough. In other words, the idea of Asian Privilege undermines the argument that blacks are held back by racism since there is no logical reason for one minority to be elevated over another to the degree that they apparently outperform whites. Again, we have to ask the question; does it make sense that a racist white establishment would privilege a visible racial minority to the extent that they would disadvantage whites?

If Asian Privilege is real, it undermines even the whole notion of a racist white establishment since, if it was somehow privileging Asians it would be unlikely to do so at the expense of whites if the motivation was to maintain white supremacy. If you believe in a racist white establishment then you cannot possibly believe that such an establishment would privilege a racial minority at the expense of its own race. Thus, to believe in Asian privilege undermines the case for racially motivated social injustices since no racist establishment would privilege another race over its own.

Clearly, the notion of Asian Privilege is a piss-poor heuristic that does little to advance understanding of Asian-Americans and even less to understand the propagation of injustices against African-Americans. As a poorly examined, but hysterically embraced, ontology, it obscures both the Asian-American experience, but also over complicates the conversation on race by needlessly making Asian guilt an issue in the race conversation. Worse still, by undermining the case for white racism it implicitly undermines the case for all racially derived injustices - even, funnily enough,  anti-blackness. Good one.

This and my previous two posts have highlighted what I perceive to be a reluctance and even fierce opposition amongst Asian-American commentators to embrace an autonomous Asian-American racial experience, even to the extent that any efforts to focus on Asians are discredited or even derided by Asian-American "advocates". As I hope to have shown, not only does this tendency further marginalize Asian-Americans, the vague and flimsily established notions of the model minority and Asian Privilege that Asians have embraced as the basis for their anti-anti-blackness sensibilities could actually have the potential to harm the cause of anti-racism far more than it could possibly help.

On a final note, I could not have planned it better myself but it says a lot about this supposed Asian privilege that the most widely disseminated discussion on Bill O'Reilly's screed took place between none other than two white men. Yeah, not an Asian in sight to offer an Asian perspective on a subject that supposedly defines our community.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mytholigising The Model Minority Myth.

Why We Need To Think Twice.....

In my previous post I discussed a Times article written by Jack Linshi in which he made the point that questions, discussions, and considerations of diversity almost always exclude Asian-Americans. A pompous rebuttal piece in the Toast criticized Linshi's article for focusing too much on Asian-Americans in an article about Asian-Americans - go figure. One particular criticism was that Linshi failed to point out how the model minority stereotype is used as a "weapon against both black and brown people" which is also a criticism echoed in a critique of Linshi's article by Julianne Hing at Colorlines which rants.......
People who shape the dominant political narrative in this country—politicians, pundits, media—have little use for substantive conversation about any group of non-white people unless it’s to uphold, in stark terms, notions of black inferiority and white supremacy. To that end, Asians have actually been the subject of quite a lot of public fascination, mainly as props used to denigrate blacks and Latinos and programs designed to support them and other people of color—including segments of the Asian-American population. All too often, Asians are willing to play along.
My first reaction to this is that I fail to see why the possibility that white racists might use Asians and the model minority narrative to "denigrate" people of color should in any way preclude Asians from writing articles that specify the Asian racial experience and focus a little attention on it. Surely, writing about the Asian experience of white supremacist structures is itself a critique of that system and, hence, in no way "plays along" with it? This idea and self-righteous proclamation that "all too often, Asians are willing to play along" is troubling in itself, simply because it sometimes seems to be merely a rhetorical tool utilized by Asian-American advocates to point out how different they are from all the other Asians who just don't get it as opposed to a means of shedding a nuanced light on the attitudes and socio-political stances of Asian-Americans.

Actually, we rarely know just what Asian-Americans are thinking or believing about politics or social issues, largely because we are excluded from the enquiry into diversity, race, and many other aspects of American life. But it always helps one's advocacy cred to make vague and unsupported claims that there must be some Asians out there who are bastards and you're not like them. Of course, the irony here is that in order to make such a sweeping statement about Asians and to have it stick with any kind of rhetorical power, one must be implicitly participating in a process that marginalizes Asian's opportunities to speak for themselves and, thus, take advantage of the racist structures that accomplish the very invisibility that enables the media to engineer an identity for an entire minority. I find it hard to take anyone seriously who so unconsciously appropriates the trappings and benefits of white supremacy whilst believing themselves to be speaking out against it.

A subsequent Times article by Linshi actually seems to heed - or it may be mere coincidence - these criticisms and addresses the issue of the apparent role that the model minority stereotype plays in America's racial discourse. Writing about the significance of Ferguson to Asian-Americans he says this about the model minority stereotype........
One possible answer could be found in the model minority myth. The myth, a decades-old stereotype, casts Asian-Americans as universally successful, and discourages others — even Asian-Americans themselves — from believing in the validity of their struggles. But as protests over Ferguson continue, it’s increasingly important to remember the purpose of the model minority narrative’s construction. The doctored portrayal, which dates to 1966, was intended to shame African-American activists whose demands for equal civil rights threatened a centuries-old white society. (The original story in the New York Times thrust forward an image of Japanese-Americans quietly rising to economic successes despite the racial prejudice responsible for their unjust internment during World War II.)
So, Linshi (as is the case with many other Asian-American commentators) is suggesting that the model minority stereotype owes its existence to the exigency of white supremacist structures to somehow affect the civil rights struggle by shaming, denigrating, or embarrassing African-American activists. Although seemingly an axiom amongst Asian-Americans in general and a fundamental ontological pillar of Asian-American reactivism in particular, I think that it is an overly simplistic conception of the stereotype. Furthermore, this conception of the stereotype itself betrays the danger and immense damage that this custom of relegating the Asian experience to a mere side-note of anti-blackness can present.

It is generally accepted that the term "model-minority" first appeared in a 1966 article in the New York Times Magazine written by sociologist, William Petersen, (a subsequent article that same year in the conservative-leaning U.S News and World Report described the self-sufficiency of New York's Chinese-Americans) in which he described the phenomenon of how Japanese-Americans had overcome extreme racial prejudice and incarceration in internment camps to become a successful demographic. He termed this community the "model-minority". Upon reading the piece, it is difficult to reconcile the charge that the model-minority stereotype was specifically designed to shame and hinder black civil rights activism with the content of the article itself.

Certainly, the NYT piece makes references to the black experience - minor allusions consisting of a bare few sentences - but to my reading, it more significantly provides a wealth of information about the unique history of anti-Asian racism and exclusion with very little indication that blacks are being targeted in any way. In fact, there are just as many, perhaps more, references to how Japanese-Americans outperform whites, yet, no-one has suggested that the piece tries to denigrate or shame whites. It requires an extremely sensitive reading of the piece to even remotely conclude that it is anything other than an expose - extremely unusual for its time, and hardly typical now, five decades later - that focuses on Asian-Americans. In short, the piece does the one thing that Asian-American reactivists seem to hate more than anything; it focused specifically on Asians and anti-Asian racism as significant subjects in and of themselves.

If one steps back from the subject to assess the claim objectively it seems somewhat absurd to believe that this 1966 article served as some kind of anti-civil rights effort. Bear in mind that the FBI was actively gathering intelligence on individuals associated with the civil rights movement through a campaign of surveillance and infiltration, such that they most probably were aware of any facts that could incriminate and discredit the movement and its leaders. Thus, I am being asked to believe that even though there was probably a wealth of intelligence gathered information on the civil rights leadership that could have been, at least, manipulated to make it look unsavory in order to shackle them, the tactic of writing passive-aggressive articles with sometimes vague or passing mention of blacks was utilized to stymie the movement. I hope that sounds as far-fetched to you as it does to me. Quite frankly, it sounds absurd.

What is being said is that the people and culture that inflicted injustices on black people came up with a passive-aggressive ploy - that amounts to name-calling - that they presumed would work on a community who had endured and survived some of the worst treatment ever inflicted on an oppressed people all in order to maintain the unequal social order. Name-calling as a means to undermine the emotional well-being of, and a movement driven by, a group of people who had endured extremes of abuse and not been broken by it? The only shock here is why such an inane idea has flowered and endured amongst Asian-Americans. But, if the piece was not written to denigrate blacks, why was it written?

To answer this question we have to understand that in the mid-nineteen-sixties there was little love lost for Asian people in America. It was only twenty years after a brutal and savage war with Japan in which western prisoners of war had been subject to severe maltreatment, and the war itself had been conducted on the home front with an explicitly racist tone by utilizing existing stereotypes of Asians that had developed since the first Asian immigrants arrived on the West Coast to galvanize the will and antipathy of the American public. A mere few years after the Pacific War, America again was at war in Asia in the Korean peninsula, and once again, the war on the home front was conducted with an explicit tone of racist xenophobia as Chinese-Americans were placed under surveillance by America's intelligence communities.

During this period, the US considered using nuclear weapons against both the Chinese and North Koreans, but also apparently considered a French plan to nuke the anti-colonial insurgents in Vietnam during the nineteen-fifties. Plus, from the mid-nineteen-fifties onwards, the US began to slowly increase its involvement in the Vietnam war - an involvement that utilized strategies of mass-destruction like Agent Orange and carpet bombing, but was also characterized by personal animosity resulting in countless and commonplace atrocities against the local population. In short, Asians were largely viewed as enemies devoted to destroying America's way of life that few Americans would have preferred over blacks. The reason that there were so few Asians in the US was that Asians were simply not liked, and it was the passing of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act - that would allow unimpeded migration from Asia - that brought Asians closer to the forefront of America's race dialogue.

America, by the mid-nineteen sixties, was a global power that, through a series of alliances, was striving to stem the advance of communism by pushing its own ideology of freedom, democracy, and equality. The problem was that the whole world could see what nonsense that was. Jim Crow (4th section, "Engaging with Africa") and racist immigration policies undermined America's credibility in the very countries of Asia (page 10) and Africa where the fight against communism was taking place. Thus, doing away with racist immigration policy was essential to maintain America's standing with its allies in Asia. The only obstacle was that Americans were largely against immigration reform that would permit unhindered migration of Asians into the country.

Thus, Asian-America's focus on America's social anxieties at the passing of civil rights legislation ignores the - perhaps equally - anxiety-inducing legislation that dramatically altered America's immigration policies. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed all of the barriers that up until that point had severely restricted immigration from Asian countries. Given that for decades Americans had been comfortable with immigration and social policies that excluded Asian people, it is not hard to see why the new legislation that would permit a group of people who were largely viewed as enemies to migrate en-masse might have been received with no small degree of trepidation. A Harris Poll of the time found that almost two-thirds of Americans opposed the act, and another 18% were undecided. America just was not happy with the idea of Asian immigration.

In light of this anti-Asian racism of the time, as well as the overwhelming opposition to the 1965 Immigration act, it seems even more far-fetched to suggest that Asians could possibly have been used as foil in some way to undermine black rights in the American mind. What is more likely is that the New York Times piece was merely an attempt by a liberal-leaning news publication to assuage anxieties about, and shape public opinion in favour of, a very unpopular , but politically necessary, piece of immigration legislation by painting Asian immigrants as a non-threatening and industrious group who make positive contributions to society. That's all it was. Even the US News piece seems to make no attempt to denigrate blacks and even quotes a social worker who explicitly states that the Chinese would exhibit very similar problems to blacks if they were placed under the same circumstances.

To fully understand the scope of American society's opposition to Asian immigration it is worth noting that more than a decade after the 1965 Immigration act, Americans were still voicing misgivings and hostility towards the prospect of Asian immigrants. As these two Harris Poll records show that Americans were in favor of closing the door to Vietnamese refugees, feared that they would take jobs from Americans, and widely believed that they would not be able to integrate. That hardly sounds like a resounding belief in the idea of Asians as a model minority that other minorities should emulate. Even today, some in white America are still smarting about the 1965 Immigration act. Articles like these show clearly that there are some Americans who continue to feel cheated out of their demographic privilege by the 1965 legislation.

By belaboring the dubious assertion that there was, and is, some kind of conspiracy of passive-aggression to embarrass blacks into submission - when several centuries of brutal slavery and decades of Jim Crow failed to do just that - Asian-Americans are not only obscuring history, they are contributing to Asian-American invisibility by deflecting attention away from the Asian-specific racial experiences described above and in so doing deny Asians a deserved autonomous racial perspective.

But, what of the idea that the model minority stereotype continues to be used to "browbeat" other minorities and justify discrimination against those groups? Most recently, public figures like Adam Carolla and Bill O'Reilly utilized the stereotype and its most trendy incarnation, Asian Privilege, to deny that racism is the inhibiting force that minorities say it is. I will discuss the Carolla and O'Reilly use of "Asian privilege" rhetoric in my next post, but for now, I ask the question; is there evidence that those who believe the model minority stereotype also exhibit racist attitudes towards blacks that are justified by, and derived from, it? Unfortunately, the answer is not as straight-forward as the examples of Carolla and O'Reilly would make it seem to be.

A study by the Northwestern University of Law found a tenuous correlation between those whites who adhere to the model minority stereotype and a corresponding adherence to anti-black attitudes. Even where a correlation was present, there was no reason to believe that the model minority stereotype was a causative factor in forming anti-black attitudes, merely that there was a pattern or correlation. Do Asian-Americans really believe that white racism requires an Asian intercessory justification to legitimize its existence in the minds of those who adhere to it? From the study....
..generally non- Hispanic whites who believe that Asian Americans work harder than whites are not less sympathetic to blacks’ need for greater government assistance (see Table 1). Put slightly differently, the belief that some Asian Americans have “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps” does not necessarily accompany the view that all groups should do the same.
More significantly, the study found a strong correlation between the belief that Asians are hard-working and successful and a belief that Asians experience no discrimination. In other words, the model minority stereotypes  hurts Asians, by obscuring the fact of anti-Asian racism, more than it informs negative attitudes towards other minority groups.
The Model Minority Hypothesis would predict that those who consider Asians smart, hard working, or wealthy tend to think that Asian Americans are not discriminated against..........Among non-Hispanic whites, the belief in most of the five positive model minority stereotypes correlated very strongly with the perception that Asian Americans faced little or no discrimination in the job market or government assistance for other minority groups.......Similarly, those non-Hispanic white respondents who believe that Asian Americans are wealthier or harder working than other minorities also tend to be more likely to believe that Asian Americans face little or no housing discrimination.
The study's conclusions?
Overall, there is no relationship between positive views of Asian Americans and negative views of African Americans. Where significant relationships exist, they usually tend to undercut the Model Minority Hypothesis, rather than support it. ....On balance, we found no significant support for the concern that those who espouse model-minority-like beliefs are more likely to oppose affirmative action for African Americans in employment or college aid, to believe that blacks have too much government influence, or to believe that we spend too much money on schools in black neighborhoods (see Tables 1 and 2).
In other words, it is particularly those who hold the stereotype of Asian Americans as hard working compared to whites who show intermittent favoritism for immigration, immigrants, Asian Americans, African Americans, and government programs to help them—no “Yellow Peril” here.
The data showed no general pattern of correlations between beliefs that Asian Americans are smarter, harder working, or richer than other minorities and hostility to immigrants, Asian Americans, or African Americans.
Ouch. There is no reason to believe that whites who hold to the model minority stereotype also exhibit a corresponding antipathy to other minorities. In fact, those who view Asians as model minorities also view other minorities sympathetically. This suggests that despite conservative pundits' use of the model minority stereotype to race-troll, average Americans aren't buying it.

Although it is almost certainly true that politicians and media pundits make rhetorical plays on the stereotype, there is little reason to believe that there is widespread adoption of these attitudes in the general population. There is also reason to believe that the idea that Asians receive favorite status or some kind of special treatment from whites - the "Asian Privilege" theory - is little more than a concocted fantasy. After all, few believe that Asians experience discrimination such that it would warrant special treatment. Believing that Asians are more hard-working than other groups simply does not correlate with any notion that blacks and immigrants should be denied assistance, nor is there reason to believe that the model minority stereotype confers political or social benefits on Asians. I wonder if the entirely Asian-American created notion of Asian privilege has done more to generate resentment from other minority groups than the model minority stereotype.

What all of this suggests is that one of the foundational concepts in Asian-American thought is in dire need of revision. Primarily because focusing on how the model minority stereotype affects other groups - which seems to be not at all - we are implicitly obscuring the patterns of racism that have affected Asians for decades and further handicapping our credibility as deserving participants in the race dialogue.

Conservative politicians and pundits are able to use Asians as battering rams against other minorities precisely because Asians have little opportunity in the mainstream to present their own point of view. Asian-American commentators aid this marginalization by criticizing Asian-focused narratives for being Asian-focused.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The First Rule Of Asian-American Advocacy Is.....

.....You Don't Talk About Asian -American Advocacy.

Back in October of 2014, a guy by the name of Jack Linshi wrote what I thought was a refreshing article in Time magazine in which he discussed the place of Asian-Americans in society's dialogue on racial diversity. His thesis was simple; society's conceptualization and media-driven perceptions of Asian-Americans has resulted in their not being considered in the diversity equation. Significantly, he points out the damaging effect that the model minority stereotype has had on marginalizing the Asian-American voice, and hence, its consideration, from America's race dialogue. What Linshi did not know was that he had committed one of the cardinal sins of Asian-American politics.

As I lamented in this post - here - Asian-American activists and social commentators for some bizarre and inexplicable reason seem to have developed a negative knee-jerk reaction to any commentary written by Asian-Americans that have a specific focus on Asian-Americans. There is a bizarre tendency to be critical of Asian-American commentaries that don't also bring the issues of other demographics to the table. According to these folks, if you focus on Asian men, then your piece is flawed because you have not mentioned Asian women (although, the reverse scenario seems to be acceptable), if you talk about anti-Asian racism, then your piece is flawed because you didn't mention anti-black racism, if you focus on the detrimental effects of the Model Minority stereotype has on Asian-Americans, then your piece is flawed because it doesn't mention global warming (that one was jesty, but you get my point). In short, Asian-Americans are unreasonably critical of any commentaries on the community that are in any way presented as independently significant in their own right.

So, naturally, I was not surprised when a "response" to Linshi's piece was published in an online mag called "The Toast" that pretty much stayed true to the custom of diminishing the credibility of an autonomous Asian-focused racial experience. The Linshi piece shines a nuanced light on how the model minority stereotype has fundamentally worked to render Asians socially and politically invisible such that indications of discrimination against Asians in promotion in the tech industry - as well as the rich history of anti-Asian racism - are largely ignored as insignificant by the white majority, minority diversity advocates, and even Asian-Americans. By contrast, the Toast piece seems to want to constrict our conception of the Asian-American experience such that the notion itself has no meaning.

As Linshi points out....
Asians and Asian-Americans are smart and successful, so hiring or promoting them does not count as encouraging diversity. It says: there is no such thing as underrepresentation of Asians and Asian-Americans. The problem with this belief, historians and advocates assert, is that it not only obscures the sheer range of experiences within Asian and Asian-American populations, but also excludes them from conversations about diversity and inclusion in leadership and non-tech sectors..........Not that this exclusion is a new phenomenon. Historians agree that diversity has turned a blind eye to Asians and Asian Americans ever since the 1965 Immigration Act.
Overall, Linshi's piece sheds lights on the most destructive aspect of the model minority stereotype; that it excludes Asians from the dialogue on their own experiences. Because they are marginalized and rendered invisible, they have almost no part in setting, or even contributing to, the agenda on diversity and race - in part because Asian-Americans reactivists themselves seem to conceive of Asian issues as merely a parasitic addendum to other minorities' problems with little, or no, autonomous significance in their own right. I on the other hand, maintain that anti-Asian racism is both fundamental to, and is the very basis of, white supremacist philosophy. Although Linshi does not say it, the unspoken (and perhaps, unintended) implication is that marginalization of Asian-Americans via the model minority stereotype benefits both the white mainstream whose anti-Asian xenophobia means that it doesn't particularly want to see a politically and socially influential Asian minority, but also non-Asian minorities who seem to increasingly view Asians as a stumbling block to their own advancement as well as to diversity itself.

Another piece written in the Daily Beast by Tim Mak expands on  this notion. Mak is more direct about it though....
Paradoxically, Asian Americans are considered minorities when white activists seek to challenge affirmative action but not considered minorities or contributors to diversity when other activists seek to promote it. We’re objects used to prove a political point about other ethnic groups rather than a group whose successes and failures are judged on our own.
Unsurprisingly, this refreshingly straight-forward piece that hints at the uncomfortable possibility that Asians are used as both a foil by the white mainstream to obscure their own racism but are also viewed as the unwanted red-headed stepchildren of the diversity demagogues, has not been embraced -  or even discussed - by the online Asian-American reactivist network. This may also be partly because the piece implies that maintaining  the marginalization of Asian-Americans provides a useful tool for both white supremacy as well as its black/Latino nemesis.

The Toast rebuttal-esque piece epitomizes the kind of pompous and self-important, yet devoid of substance, content that seems to accompany any attempt to bring an autonomous Asian-American voice to the table. The piece is based on an e-mail exchange between two - I presume - Asian-American journalists, Sarah Jeong and Nicole Callahan. Although the whole piece reads like a manifesto of self-importance, these two points, in particular, stood out for me......
Sometimes we are “left out” because we don’t face the same racism. I think it’s rather disingenuous to claim to be “left out” of the black/white framing, and then conveniently ignore or not talk about the ways Asian Americans benefit from not being seen as black.
But it also doesn’t make much sense to talk about race or the model minority myth at all without acknowledging white supremacy and the anti-blackness at its root........Yes, talking about racism and discrimination against Asian Americans is extremely weird without broaching how the model minority myth has been used as a weapon against both black and brown people.
Quite frankly, I don't see how you can motivate Asians to want to fight white supremacy by telling them that their own racial experiences are irrelevant and that they have nothing unique to contribute to the process. Somehow, Asian-American social justice commentators seem to hold to the principle that Asian advocacy is about stifling an autonomous Asian voice and co-opting the black one, like parasites. Some inspiration.

Even worse, though, this self-disqualifying of Asians from having a voice in America's race dialogue is attained by misunderstanding Linshi's point.  By my reading, the gist of the Linshi piece is not to claim that Asians are left out of the black/white framing, but to suggest that the black/framing is a hopelessly inadequate framework to effectively describe America's diverse racial experience. Even if you accept with full uncritical faith - as many seem to do - the axiom that anti-Asian racism is rooted in anti-blackness (in fact, history suggests the opposite is true - that the racial thinking that made anti-blackness possible and legitimate is predated by, and rooted in, anti-Asianism), you will find yourself unable to adequately describe America's diverse racial experiences. All roads do not lead to anti-blackness and the insistence that they do contributes nothing meaningful to America's race dialogue, particularly where it concerns Asian-Americans.

Asians are left out of the race dialogue for one reason and one reason alone; we are marginalized and offered few opportunities to actually present our experiences in our own words and on our own terms. That is the real damage of the model minority stereotype; it diminishes the credibility of Asian-American claims to negative racial experiences and casts doubt on anti-Asian racism as a significant issue. Ironically, the Toast piece does pretty much the same thing.

Linshi writes.....
Yet the movement to push Asians and Asian-Americans into conversations of diversity and inclusion has fizzled out in recent years. Asian-American activism, historians believe, was at its peak following a national outcry after two white men escaped prosecution for their 1982 racially-charged murder of Chinese-American Vincent Chin. Nascent groups like American Citizens for Justice and the Coalition Against Anti-Asian Violence demanded equal treatment of Asian-Americans both under the law and in society. The fight for Asian-American equality may be less fierce today, but it is still there.
My take is that one possible reason why the "movement to push Asians and Asian-Americans into conversations of diversity and inclusion" might have fizzled out is that Asian-Americans - as the Toast piece illustrates - are stifling it. Asian-American "advocates" have created a hostile environment where those who want to actually focus their advocacy on Asians are deemed to be, or denounced as, anti-black, wicked model-minority embracers, or just not "down". In short, those historical efforts to  give Asians a voice in the diversity dialogue have been subverted by a new generation who seem to have run out of original things to say, so they co-opt anti-anti-blackness movement rhetoric and try to squeeze every possible scenario into some unfeasible manifestation of the black/white dichotomy.

One such scenario is the model minority stereotype, which - according to many Asian-Americans in the know - was created, and exists, solely as a means to embarrass other minorities, discredit welfare programs, and roll back civil rights gains achieved in the nineteen-sixties. I will expand on this conception of the stereotype in my next post, but for now it will suffice to say that there are plenty of reasons to think that the model minority stereotype is, and was, far more complex than simply a conspiracy to pit minorities against one another.

In summary, as long as Asian-Americans continue to diminish and stifle efforts to give our community its own voice and perspectives in the diversity conversation, we will continue to be marginalized, or worse still, not taken seriously. Borrowing the terminologies and rages of black activism - though ostensibly noble - just makes us parrots of someone else's experiences. In some ways there seems to be an element of abdication of responsibility in the sense that it is easier (but not braver) to appropriate the ready-made activist agenda of black advocacy than it is to create an Asian-American ontology from the rich history of anti-Asianism.

On a final note, another thing to consider is whether diversity and the credibility of one's input to the conversation on it must be - as the Toast piece seems to imply - correlated with the degree or severity of the experience of racism. It seems like even more abdication of responsibility to suggest that one has to experience harsher racism to earn the necessary credibility to deserve to give input to the diversity dialogue. Do I really need to have been severely beaten by skinheads, harassed by the police, or racially mocked on national broadcast television to be able to put forward a meaningful and legitimate contribution to the conversation? It seems silly and unhelpful to dismiss an entire community's input because of simplistic notions of who suffers more and harsher prejudice.