This blog is the first post in a series that will examine diversity in the legal field. The blogs will highlight diversity issues and efforts within the legal community. Click here for a list of Asian American ally resources.
I want to start off this blog post by honoring victims of hate and violence. Victims that were attacked, only because of their identity.
I am writing this as a Filipino American immigrant woman and as a law student. I am writing this from my perspective as I am processing the attacks against my community.
The Asian American community is mourning. In the past few months, there has been a rampant increase in Asian American hate and violence. As I hear about these attacks, I think of my family members. I think of my great uncles, great aunts, and my grandmothers as I hear about attacks on the elderly. I think of my mom and my aunts as I hear about attacks on Asian American women.
The McGeorge School of Law Asian Pacific American Law Student Association wrote a statement in response to these attacks:
“We are not a virus. We are not a model minority. We are not a monolith. We are not your punchline or your scapegoat. We need to stop normalizing complacency. We need to amplify the narratives of our Asian storytellers, victims, survivors, and family members. And in the process, we need to look unto ourselves, in striving for anti-racism for ALL communities, for we do not tolerate selective support or solidarity. Anti-racism does not work unless we remain in total solidarity, together.”
As I try to process the hate and violence against the Asian American community, I think about my personal background. I think about my parents’ struggles to come to America with a hope for a better life for their children. I think about how I want to make them proud and show that their hard work paid off. I think about how my life is easier because of their sacrifices.
However, I also think about how this country has unfairly treated them, just like so many other communities of color. It is important to recognize how laws justified racism against communities of color, from the Exclusion Act to Immigration Detention Centers today. Though each community’s experience is unique, the hate and violence are all deeply rooted in racism.
Growing up in the Philippines, I always heard America’s promise of the American “dream.” But that dream only works for a select few groups. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality is extremely damaging when institutional barriers continually prevent people from achieving upward mobility. Even if that “dream” is somewhat achieved, we are still haunted by racism through hate crimes. It is a reminder that maybe we do not belong here. We have become a scapegoat for America’s failures to their people.
It makes me angry. I am studying the laws that justified past discriminatory policies. Discriminatory policies that fuel and rationalize hate crimes that are currently happening against my community.
However, I want to be hopeful. I want to be hopeful that the legal field will be more accessible to underrepresented communities. I want to be hopeful that there will no longer be legal justifications for discriminatory policies. I want to be hopeful that my community’s differences will be recognized, not just as a monolithic identity. I want to be hopeful that media portrayals of these hate crimes will not be distorted to benefit the attacker, but instead recognizing the attacker’s hateful motivations against the victims. I want to be hopeful that my community will no longer be a scapegoat. And lastly, I want to be hopeful that my community, and other communities of color will no longer experience hate – and if hate ensues, there will be consequences and prosecution just like ones that disproportionately impact us.