The Asian American & Pacific Islander experience is paradoxical. It is one of simultaneous action and inaction where survival and silencing pervade existence. Even as the AAPI category indicates, we are vaguely represented within this vast racial category, further diluting the reality of circumstances for over 40 ethnic groups – and for our contexts of higher education, this results in AAPI students being vaguely represented within our own institutional data, rendering us as ‘invisible’.
The short story we chose, A Flawless Silence by Yiyun Li, is a story of “enough is enough”. It is a story of living under a veil of presumed
silence as a shield of protection and as a weapon against various symbols of oppression. As our book club participants indicated, this silence was of no help for “Min” who struggled to hang on to her own dignity throughout her life. Caught
between oppressive and dangerous circumstances, Min represents the reality of quieted voices -- a phenomenon all too common for many marginalized groups.
Min’s story is unfortunately a familiar one for many. It is tied directly to the Model Minority Myth which continues to haunt and violate ALL of our communities. This is why we included additional resources to expose what our communities have historically
internalized as damaging stereotypes about AAPI groups. We are also not taught enough about how the Model Minority Myth was created in order to actively perpetuate
a systemic cycle of racial wedge politics to maintain systems of anti-Black racism and white supremacy. Creating a false impression of a ‘good’
or model minority has divisively worked to distance the AAPI voice from other disenfranchised groups while at the same time diminishing our realities from being recognized.
Such systemic racial and epistemic violence lead towards a begging call to action and allyship to continually join in solidarity with our Black colleagues. The Black Lives Matter movement calls out a system of racist policies and brutal practices that
treat Black lives as less deserving of protection and opportunity to live with freedom and dignity. It is also a critical time to have difficult conversations within our own AAPI circles and families about anti-Blackness and how we can fight against it.
Enough is enough.
Our racialized realities are all intertwined and inextricably linked to one another. This is why I am deeply grateful for AACRAO’s Book Club to allow such an opportunity for the API Caucus to host May’s book club discussion and to highlight
a space to voice our unique perspectives. Thank you for providing an initiating space to ignite such critical conversations to take place.
Tricia Ryan, chair of AACRAO’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus, serves as the Director of Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations at San José State University. She is currently completing her Doctor of Education dissertation on Filipinx leadership epistemologies with research interests in how to create spaces to carryout continued conversations about issues affecting the voiceless and unheard; including leaders in higher education experiencing the phenomenon of invisibility in their social, professional, and personal lives.
View the discussion recording