No Act is Too Small [June 2018]

SAPAAC member and Stanford alumna Mimi Gan ('79 Social Sciences) recently spent a weekend canvassing and registering voters in Wisconsin. Here are her reflections about getting involved in the political process and empowering everyday citizens to go out and vote. The reflection is written as a letter to friends.

Dear Friends,

Mimi Gan ('79, Social Studies)

Mimi Gan ('79, Social Studies)

I just came back from canvassing and registering voters in the "purple" state of Wisconsin with 15 Seattle volunteers. The entire experience was incredibly humbling and eye-opening, and I wanted to share what I observed and learned because it's given me a better understanding of Middle America—and myself.

Our group of volunteers was part of Common Purpose, a grassroots organization started up by University of Washington communications professor and social justice activist David Domke, to create community and mobilize voter engagement across Washington and nine other states prior to the 2018 mid-term elections. About 200 of us overall are participating in its activities.

Why me? After the 2016 election, I became so disillusioned by the new administration’s policies and politics that I turned into what the NY Times has coined an “MSNBC Mom” and Twitter-addict (to my husband's dismay). I decided that instead of simply grumbling about the news all day, I would turn my anger into activism. After researching various avenues of resistance, I decided to put my energies into fighting voter suppression and helping to GOTV—Get Out The Vote. Common Purpose offered the perfect opportunity.

Why Wisconsin? I had never been to the Badger state and found its racial, socio-economic demographics, politics and voting statistics both interesting and troubling. For example:

  • In Milwaukee, black/white population is essentially equal but segregated: 45% White; 40% African American; 15% Latino/Hispanic/Other
  • A quarter (25%) of WI citizens of voting age are NOT registered to vote (1.3 million potential voters)
  • Of those 25% unregistered, almost half are African American/Latino/Hispanic

Why the disenfranchisement? Possible reasons are a strict voter ID law, neighborhood segregation, income inequality, excessive incarceration, among other factors. Other notable points:

  • The cities of Milwaukee and Racine are in the "Top 5 of worst cities for African Americans (USA Today)
  • In Racine, African Americans earn 35 cents to every 1 dollar whites earn.
  • In Milwaukee County, almost HALF of all African American males in their 30’s and 40’s have been incarcerated at some point in their lives.

Our strategy: We worked alongside of and trained with the RIC (Racine Interfaith Coalition), a non-partisan group of 25 congregations/organizations working together for social justice. We registered voters across the city—in diverse neighborhoods, from laundromats to churches. While in Milwaukee, we also canvassed for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s re-election campaign. Her aunt, Sarah Baldwin of Seattle was part of our traveling WA Common Purpose group.

The experience was truly eye-opening: Milwaukee and Racine residents never hesitated to open their doors or voice their concerns about what matters to them -- from crime, healthcare to the border policy. Surprisingly, many of the unregistered voters we talked to understood the issues and had strong opinions about WI Governor Walker and President Trump. Yet, these same folks never felt compelled to vote. “It won’t make a difference,” said a few.

We were also taken aback by the number of felons we met who were very open about their status. In Wisconsin, felons are not eligible to vote unless they are "off paper"—they have served and fulfilled their obligations to the state. We met two "off paper" felons who did not think they could vote and we registered them on the spot. It was so gratifying.

Click for more images. All images courtesy Mimi Gan.

Click for more images. All images courtesy Mimi Gan.

Unexpected highlights of the experience: Getting to know 14 new Seattle compatriots and now friends; enjoying a delicious sloppy-joe lunch prepared by loving "church ladies" after a morning of canvassing, and attending a packed Town Hall featuring Parkland shooting survivors on their #RoadToChange tour, joined by Milwaukee/Chicago teens who expressed so passionately the need for better guns laws and young voter turnout. After hearing from them, I’m convinced the young people will win!

Gratitude: Huge thanks to our inspirational team leader Charles Douglas (a Starbucks Corporate manager and young leader to watch) for his organizing and patience and to my dear friend and role model, Virginia Anderson for connecting us to Racine. Special thanks to the folks at RIC, who were the most dedicated and organized group of peaceful activists I’ve ever met—all with big open hearts. We have a great deal to learn from them, including tolerance and compassion.

Reflecting on the event: I can happily report that our group registered dozens of new voters, including 18-year olds, African Americans, Latinos, retirees, "off paper" felons, and others. We used the state's new voter registration app, which had its hiccups, but we muscled through.

Our very civil one-on-one conversations were honest, open, and memorable. We listened. We learned. And hopefully, we helped convince a few that their vote/voice matters.

Traveling to Wisconsin also made me realize how fortunate we are to live in "the Seattle bubble." But I’m so glad I burst out, even for just five days. I learned so much about life in the Midwest, humanity and myself—including my own unconscious biases. Best of all, meeting Wisconsinites renewed my faith in the inherent goodness of people of all faiths, races, and ages, despite the divisions raging around us.

I remain hopeful, optimistic and even more engaged!

Friends—if you care about the future of our democracy, please consider taking action. I believe small acts make a big difference:

  • Call your legislator
  • Sign a petition
  • Donate $5 to a favorite politician or cause
  • Encourage a young millennial, friend or neighbor to VOTE

Or, get involved with Common Purpose for "Wave 2" this fall in Washington, in Wisconsin or in another state. Please join us!

In closing, we love these words of inspiration, courtesy of the Racine Interfaith Coalition:

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage and kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And, if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. For the future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."

—Howard Zinn, Historian & Writer

Here's to small, marvelous victories!


Note: Mimi also produced the video "History of Asians & Asian Americans at Stanford" video for the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Summit, which you can view here:

Asian American Issues [December 2017]

National API News Briefing

Ed Lee, the first Asian American mayor of San Francisco, passed away at the age 65. After being appointed a caretaker mayor, Lee, who was of Chinese descent, won election twice in a city known for its boisterous politics.

A survey by NPR (National Public Radio) finds that “large numbers of Asian-Americans experience and perceive discrimination in many areas of their daily lives. This happens despite their having average incomes that outpace other racial, ethnic and identity groups.” According to Harvard professor Robert Blendon, who co-directed the survey, “we are seeing again and again that income is not a shield from discrimination.”


Key findings from the survey include: “More than three in five Asian Americans (61%) believe discrimination exists against Asian Americans in the U.S. today, while about a third have experienced slurs and insensitive or offensive comments about their race or ethnicity. A quarter or more of Asian Americans reported being personally discriminated against because they're Asian when applying for jobs, seeking equal pay or being considered for promotions, or obtaining housing.”

It also shows “a wide gap between immigrant and nonimmigrant Asian-Americans in reporting discrimination experiences, including violence and harassment” with immigrants less likely to speak up than native-born Asian Americans. The study was a collaboration of NPR, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Download the full report here.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice launched an online hate tracker ( this year to defend “our democracy against rising hate, intolerance, and xenophobia.” The group has documented “close to 200 hate incidents against Asian Americans from personal accounts and media reports.” According to AAAJ, the accompanying video “shows that no matter how long we live in this country, or even if we were born here, Asian Americans are seen as the ‘perpetual foreigner.’ Our hate tracker is filled with incidents of being told to ‘go back to your country’ or ‘learn to assimilate.’”

The New York Times offers an online lesson plan on “Teaching Japanese-American Internment Using Primary Resources.” December 7, 1941 marked the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese military, and soon after, 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry would be rounded up and sent to internment camps. Parts of the Trump Administration’s “Muslim ban” went into effect this month, and an ACLU lawyer warns that the anti-Muslim prejudice today is the same kind that Japanese Americans faced in the 1940s. It also echoes the xenophobia against Chinese workers in the 1880s, including an infamous, violent expulsion of all Chinese persons from Tacoma, Washington on November 3, 1885.

"Children pledging allegiance to the American flag at San Francisco’s Raphael Weill Elementary School in 1942. Those whose families were of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps."  Dorothea Lange  captured a set of "rarely seen photos" on the subject of Japanese internment throughout the 1940s. Text from  The New York Times

"Children pledging allegiance to the American flag at San Francisco’s Raphael Weill Elementary School in 1942. Those whose families were of Japanese ancestry were sent to internment camps." Dorothea Lange captured a set of "rarely seen photos" on the subject of Japanese internment throughout the 1940s. Text from The New York Times

The Department of Justice “has opened an investigation into the use of race in Harvard University’s admissions practices” according to the Wall Street Journal, and “has accused the university of failing to cooperate with the probe.” As reported by The Independent, “in a 17 November letter, the department wrote that Harvard was being probed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to allegations that it was using race as a deciding factor in its admissions decisions…Title VI bars discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin for organizations that receive federal funding.” Facing this pressure, Harvard eventually agreed in December to “turn over years of confidential applicant and student records to the United States Justice Department, which has opened an aggressive investigation into whether the university has systematically discriminated against Asian-American applicants.”

 Stanford Activism Update (includes TO DO Action Items)

>> As Stanford plans for 2035, students and cities weigh in on equity, environment <<

Stanford University is in the midst of developing a new land and building plan—a once-every-two-decades process that will significantly influence the campus, surrounding cities and towns, and open spaces. The University is, after all, an entity with a daily population of over 35,000, which is projected to grow in coming years. After negotiations with the county conclude, a new 2018 permit is anticipated to last until 2035. Nearby municipalities, such as Palo Alto, have expressed interest and concern about Stanford’s proposals.

Stanford students are actively joining the discussion of how the University’s urban planning and development will impact communities in the Bay Area, as well as the commutes, housing, and livelihoods of future students and staff. The Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035) is a coalition of students with a vision for a more equitable Stanford, beginning with the General Use Permit (GUP) process. According to SCoPE 2035, the GUP is the agreement between Stanford University and Santa Clara County that will specify the limits and requirements on Stanford’s future land use, growth, and development. During Autumn Quarter, the group engaged 75 students in a workshop on the Bay Area housing crisis and how Stanford might contributes to/alleviate it. They also connected with other stakeholders including Stanford's SEIU Local Chapter 2007 and Santa Clara County Wage Theft Coalition.

John Zhao '18 (Environmental Systems Engineering) and Courtney Pal '18 (Earth Systems and CSRE) speak at the Human Cities Expo.

John Zhao '18 (Environmental Systems Engineering) and Courtney Pal '18 (Earth Systems and CSRE) speak at the Human Cities Expo.

At the recent Human Cities Expo at Stanford, SCoPE 2035 organizers John Zhao ‘18 and Courtney Pal ‘18 focused attention on key challenges related to Stanford’s GUP application. They suggested the proposal could be improved by addressing transportation options for those commuting hours from East Bay cities or even further; provide more on-site housing for many of the new employees who are supposed to service the university in coming decades; and developing a more ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan post-2018.

Earlier in the fall, the group reviewed the County's Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the GUP, and gained hands-on experience with local government processes. “We prepared a public comment that we submitted in-person at the County meeting on November 30,” SCoPE 2035 Member Erica Knox explained. “Among other things, we highlighted that Stanford's proposed Below Market Rate housing fee was substantially lower than what Stanford should reasonably pay, and that Stanford had yet to fulfill its promise from the 2000 GUP to determine an absolute maximum build-out boundary.” At that meeting, the County extended the public comment period for the DEIR to February 2.

According to Knox, “SCoPE 2035 will continue to engage students in this GUP process to ensure that the final agreement reflects our shared values of accessibility, community, and equity.”



>> Sexual assault at Stanford: alumni express concern over student welfare, encourage a more humane response <<

Stanford University has once again been thrust into the national spotlight over sexual assault allegations and the University’s handling of these cases. In November, yet another incident came to light, where a Korean-American graduate student was allegedly raped by a professor during her time at Stanford. At the time, the professor was investigated and put on leave, but returned to campus two years later and even had awards named after him. At this time, at least one other Stanford faculty member has been accused of sexual assault.

 The allegations stem from the 2000s or earlier, but only surfaced amid the #metoo movement, as more and more survivors have stood up and spoken out. Organizations around the country, including movie studios, Congress, and newsrooms, are reckoning with histories of harassment, sexual assault, and gender discrimination.

Current graduate students have been shaken by the latest allegations and have privately expressed outrage over what they feel is Stanford’s institutional silence in response. However, the power imbalance in academia—where faculty can make or break the careers of aspiring young scholars—has left them feeling unable to speak out publicly.

Andrea Lorei holds up a sign during the 125th Commencement ceremony at Stanford. (Image:&nbsp; Yahoo News ) Many students held aloft signs of protests to call attention to the University's handling of rape cases. ( Los Angeles Times )

Andrea Lorei holds up a sign during the 125th Commencement ceremony at Stanford. (Image: Yahoo News) Many students held aloft signs of protests to call attention to the University's handling of rape cases. (Los Angeles Times)

These incidents are only the latest to embroil the university, which has had a difficult track record in dealing with sexual assault and rape cases in recent years. A number of students have condemned the university’s responses as inadequate and founded a group, Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention (ASAP), to raise awareness and encourage the University leadership to respond to this challenge. Last year, the Washington Post quoted group co-founder Stephanie Pham ’18 as saying, “Stanford looks at sexual assault cases from the lens of protecting its brand … Maybe it’s this need to forge an image of a perfect university where sexual assault doesn’t happen.” Students have also protested about this issue during the Wacky Walk and graduation ceremony.

The latest incidents reported by campus and national publications this past month have once more shone light on the issue in the Stanford community.


  • As concerned alumni and representatives of the API community, a number of SAPAAC leaders and members have co-written a letter to Stanford asking the university administration to treat the issue with urgency. They express concern for victimized students and alumni, and ask for a more humane, less corporate, response to sexual assault that shows empathy and care for the survivors.
  • You are invited to read the letter and if you want to make a difference, we urge you to express your support and make clear to the Stanford administration that caring for students is a priority for alumni. You can sign the letter by adding your name here.


Many Asian American alumni from different generations gathered at Stanford in spring 2017 for the first-ever Asian American Alumni Summit.

Many Asian American alumni from different generations gathered at Stanford in spring 2017 for the first-ever Asian American Alumni Summit.

>> Voices Rising: Join the SAPAAC Issues & Advocacy Committee <<

After the first Asian American alumni summit at Stanford this spring, there was a surge of momentum in our community. During the summit and in its aftermath, we heard numerous requests for our API alumni organization, SAPAAC, to do more and take a stand on important issues affecting the API community. Alumni expressed concern about national issues, as well as those affecting the Stanford campus.

You are part of this alumni-driven movement! Members of I&A have already been active this year in forging a collective response by Asian American alumni. New upcoming issues include defending the Community Centers against budget cuts and supporting the hiring of more Asian American Studies faculty and Asian American university leaders.


You are this movement! Join in and take action to ensure that API voices are heard by joining our next Issues & Advocacy meeting at 6 PM on December 17. To get involved, visit the SAPAAC website for details and contact the Issues & Advocacy co-chairs.


Action Items Checklist:

  1. Sign a letter supporting Stanford students and urging the University to adopt a more empathetic approach to addressing sexual assault


  2. Learn more about Stanford’s new land and buildings plan and get updates from student activists about how to encourage more equitable housing, transportation and climate options in the university plan. (Santa Clara County residents can also comment on the draft Environmental Impact Report)


  3. Join the Issues & Advocacy meeting at 6 PM on December 17 California time. Visit the SAPAAC website for details.

Asian American Issues [March 2017]

Tune in to issues around the nation and get the scoop on Stanford activism! This monthly publication produced by the SAPAAC Issues & Advocacy committee highlights the latest developments in politics, current events, culture and entertainment of interest to the Asian American & Pacific Islander community. It includes specific actions you can do to be an advocate.

Articles from February 1-28 are included in this edition.


"Three Boys Behind Barbed Wire" 1942-45 by Toyo Miyatake. Source:  UC Riverside

"Three Boys Behind Barbed Wire" 1942-45 by Toyo Miyatake. Source: UC Riverside


As columnist Ryan Ko reminds us, “Democracy is not a spectator sport.” He has crafted a handy guide with easy, medium, and full-contact ways of getting involved. Here are a few other examples that are happening around the Bay Area.

Indivisible action group at UCSF: Alli Wong and Christina Fitzsimmons lead a group in San Francisco focused on turning the Indivisible Guide into action in their local community. The Guide is a document produced by former Congressional staffers to train everyday citizens to effectively impact Congress, stating “We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting … resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness.”

According to Wong, “Our group is based at UCSF. We have in-person meetings to strategize and take action together, but many others follow along online and take action, such as calling their representatives, as well. Since many of us are researchers and scientists, the group is loosely centered around science policy, but it is open to all.” No UCSF-affiliation required, just a commitment to democracy.

Their next action is to join a town hall with Senator Dianne Feinstein. Join Alli, Christina and the Indivisible SF group by visiting this link. Or start up your own Indivisible group!

Save Federal Climate Data: Scientists and engineers with knowledge of computer science and/or an interest in the environment are gathering for hackathons to save climate data, and other scientific knowledge many research use, before the Trump administration erases it. Events have taken place in UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Toronto and elsewhere. Regular citizens can participate: find out more here.

Mass Demonstrations this Spring (Day Without Women, Day Without Immigrants, March for Science & More): “Organizers across the US are riding the momentum of the post-inauguration march to mobilize in solidarity with scientists, immigrants, LGBT people” among others. Find out more here.

One example is the “Day Without Immigrants” protest to peacefully demonstrate how immigrants contribute to our economy. Another is the women’s strike on March 8, “A Day Without a Woman” where “women, including trans women, and all who support them” will take part in an “international day of struggle...striking, marching, blocking roads, bridges, and squares, abstaining from domestic, care and sex work, boycotting, calling out misogynistic politicians and companies, striking in educational institutions.” Groups in over 30 countries will participate. Find out more.

Support Racial Justice Movements: In the Bay Area, the SURJ Showing Up for Racial Justice is organizing a “Human Billboard” to aid Black Lives Matter.

Call your Representatives: “You can tweet into the void all you want” developer Nick O’Neill told Wired magazine, “but there’s something about just connecting with a human being who says, ‘Thank you for contacting us.'” O’Neill co-created an online tool called “5 Calls” that “helps people find their representatives’ phone numbers and speak out on important issues” and “provides a script designed to make the process easier for both callers and the staffers on the other side. It tells you what to mention, and in what order. It also reminds you, for example, to leave your address in a voicemail or else you won’t be counted as a constituent.”

For example, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security is counting calls before it decides whether to approve Steve Bannon's appointment to the National Security Council. The number is: 202-224-4751. If you disagree with Bannon’s appointment, you can call (no one will answer) and leave a message saying “Don't approve Steve Bannon's appointment to the NSC.” Or conversely, supporting his appointment if that is your political inclination.

Unfortunately, “millennials across the rich world are failing to vote” as The Economist reports. “Democracies are at risk if young people continue to shun the ballot box” yet “Millennials do not see voting as a duty.” Please don’t be one of them.

Befriend an International Student: Quartz reveals that “40% of foreign students in the US have no close friends on campus” calling it “the culture shock of loneliness.” A simple but meaningful gesture is to befriend one of them. Chinese students at Columbia University in New York took things a step further when “Earlier this month, a number of students with East Asian names reported having their name tags ripped off their doors in multiple residence halls on campus. In response, the students got together and produced a video talking about the stories behind their names, trying to stem the rising tide of racism, xenophobia and prejudice in the US.”

Get informed: No matter your political viewpoint, it is important to stay informed & to voice your opinion to your representatives. One SAPAAC alumni recommends two tools that make it easy to do both:

(1) Download "Countable" from the App Store to learn about proposed bills and orders from the federal government

(2) Text your zip code to 1-520-200-2223 and you'll get a return text with the names & telephone numbers of your federal and state representatives



Resigning from Trump’s Advisory Council: Ten members of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) submitted their resignation to President Donald Trump. SAPAAC member and Stanford alumnus Kathy Ko Chin was one of the commissioners who resigned.

According to NBC News: "The choice to stay on under the new administration was with the hopes that I would have a seat at the table to be able to bring up the issues that are important to our community based on the work that's happened over many years under this commission...It became very clear to me in the last month and a half that that voice at the table wasn't going to be able to be effective inside the administration the way that I hoped it would be,” said Maulik Pancholy. Read their letter here.

Chair of the Commission and UCSF professor Tung Thanh Nguyen said that the Trump administration's activities over the last month “have threatened the progress made by former President Barack Obama for AAPI communities,” which had previously “generated an unprecedented amount of connection" between AAPIs and the federal government.

The First-Ever Tracker of Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans is Launched: As reported by NPR, “After years of declining numbers, hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are rising.”



Fighting back against the Trump Administration’s Immigration Ban: Groups are filing lawsuits against the order claiming it commits religious discrimination. “The American Civil Liberties Union, in challenging the order, described it as a ‘Muslim ban wrapped in paper-thin national security rationale.’ Dan Siciliano, a law professor at Stanford, says it was ‘clearly a nationality ban and a de facto religion ban.’" (Bloomberg)

As an example of the impact of the ban and related political rhetoric, “US-born NASA scientist Sidd Bikkannavar was detained at the border until he unlocked his phone.” In a worrisome move, Trump has also suggested conducting social media checks on Chinese visitors.

Stanford University joins amicus brief opposing travel ban: A group of 17 American universities, including Stanford, has filed a court brief outlining the harm to the academic community from the Jan. 27 executive order. Read the amicus brief here.

A Stanford student and the ACLU sue Trump over immigration ban: "Hadil Al-Mowafak, a freshman studying at Stanford with an F-1 student visa, joined a UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate and a San Diego college student in filing the lawsuit Thursday through the ACLU." They are "suing President Donald Trump for ordering what they say is an unconstitutional immigration ban against seven Muslim-majority countries ... Al-Mowafak alleges that she is unable to visit her husband in Yemen because of an executive order Trump signed Jan. 27 ... The California students’ lawsuit, and similar lawsuits filed across the country, say that Trump’s order is an 'unlawful attempt to discriminate against Muslims and to establish a preference for one religion over another.'" (San Jose Mercury News, Stanford Daily, Palo Alto Weekly)

The Stanford Faculty Senate weighs in on the issue here. Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne rejected a student-initiated Stanford “Sanctuary Campus” proposal, but affirms “shared values.” Find out more details about Stanford’s response to immigration issues in SAPAAC’s previous coverage.


Immigration Ban & Chinese Exclusion

Chinese American Exclusion: In “A Chinese American Lesson for Trump,” Al Jazeera highlights how the “Muslim ban” is actually a new iteration of an old problem. Chinese Americans faced “decades of discrimination” under the Chinese Exclusion Act. Lest we forget, “Before It Embraced Immigrants, California Championed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882” (KCET)

Find out more on Chinese immigrants and their experience coming through Angel Island with the Angel Island Photo Gallery and a new book called”Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940”  Politics of Chinese Immigration on Angel Island by Judy Yung, professor emerita of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz. The book was coauthored with the late Him Mark Lai and Genny Lim, a native San Francisco poet, playwright, performer, and educator.


IV. Japanese American Internment: 75 Years Later

As xenophobic comments and policies spread, it is crucial to look at America's history and learn from our past mistakes and human rights violations.

Day of Remembrance: February 19 marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, when President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state reminds us to remember.

George Takei, an American actor of Japanese descent, was five when this happened, and his family was put in one of the prison camps. “Almost overnight, because Pearl Harbor was bombed by people that looked like us, Japanese Americans were seen as enemies...The politicians got swept up in war hysteria and the President’s order put us into the barbed wire prison camps. We were Americans, but it didn’t matter.” Takei has been vocal in opposing the modern incarnation of these actions and produced a show called “Allegiance” that takes on the difficult, historical subject matter. also has a detailed Q&A with Takei.

On the Day of Remembrance, find out much more about the Japanese internment through historical documents from the U.S. archives. Read the text of Order 9066 itself here. If you are in Los Angeles, you can currently see the document on display at the Japanese American National Museum. Read other commentary on this act that imprisoned our fellow Americans, causing personal hardships and massive economic losses among the Japanese American community.

“75 years later, Japanese Americans recall” the “pain of internment camps,” Reuters reports. The Washington Post has produced an excellent graphical interface that explores this pivotal historic event. The out-of-print Amerasia Journal 19:1 “Commemorative Issue on Japanese American Internment Fiftieth Anniversary“ is available for free via their online journal portal, with articles by scholars such as Don T. Nakanishi, Stanford’s own Gordon Chang, and Hisaye Yamamoto DeSoto, “as well as reflections from UCLA professors on incorporating the camps into curriculum.”



Listen to the Silence conference at Stanford: Asian American Student Association hosted “Listen to the Silence,” a major conference for undergraduate Asian American activists from numerous universities. Programming included an affirmative action workshop discussing class disparity, underrepresented groups within the AAPI community, and those beyond the diaspora. An “activist tour” of Stanford campus explored the  injustices, controversies, and community victories in Stanford's past and present, inspiring participants to learn from the struggles of previous and current generations of activists.

Here is a report from two organizers, Stanford students Vy Luu and Mai Ka Vang:

On January 28, 2017, the Asian American Students’ Association hosted the 21st annual Listen to the Silence (LTS) conference. The conference was founded in 1995 to educate the Stanford community and beyond about issues affecting the Asian American community. Since then, the conference goals have expanded to include the empowerment of Asian American students to take direct action to improve their communities and work towards social justice.

This year’s conference theme was titled “Know History, Know Self, Know Solidarity," which focused on exploring the political roots of the Asian American identity in order to advance a vision of justice that emphasizes the Asian American community’s intricate ties to other communities of color. Over 400 participants—high school students, undergraduate and graduate students, community members—attended this year’s LTS. Participants came from all over California, from San Diego to Fresno. The day began with a panel of activists involved with the Asian American movement in the 1960s who spoke about the origins of the Asian American identity. Later on in the day, the keynote speaker Gregory Cendana spoke about his contemporary work in organizing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to work towards justice for their communities and beyond.

Throughout the day, participants attended workshops hosted by various Stanford student organizations and community organizations to learn about issues such as anti-blackness and gender in the Asian American community.

If you are interested in learning more about LTS or being involved in the future, please email You can also see more photos at the event Facebook page.

Editor's note: Some of the speakers included Stanford history professor Gordon Chang; Harvey Dong, a UC Berkeley lecturer in ethnic studies and owner of Eastwind Books; Estella Habal, emeritus professor of Asian American Studies at San Jose State and former organizer for the International Hotel Tenants Association; and Karen Ishizuka, film producer, museum curator, and author of the recently-published book “Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties.”

Stanford fires lawyer who advocated for sexual assault victims: In a decidedly less progressive move, Stanford has fired the lawyer who advocated for assault victims at the university and advised on Title IX issue. The ASSU Senate (student body) condemned this action.


VI. Asian Americans: Access to Equality

Asian last names lead to fewer job interviews: NPR reports on a study “that found that job applicants with Asian names were 28% less likely to get called for an interview compared to applicants with Anglo names, even when all the qualifications were the same.” Asian applicants may feel “pressure to “whiten” resume so you can double chance to receive call back.”

Exploding the myth of "Asian American Success: At the same time, “When politicians talk about race and diversity in America, Asian-Americans are noticeably absent from the conversation. Their portrait is one dimensional: wealthy, educated, successful.” But as New York magazine reports, in “The Myth of Asian American Success And How Invisibility Becomes Institutionalized,” if you look “more closely at the numbers, you see a different picture altogether.”

For example, one out of every 7 Asian immigrants is undocumented (AAPI Data) “Asian undocumented immigrants account for about 14% of the total undocumented population in the United States.”

“As a Chinese-American alumnus who interviews applicants to Yale, I’m often asked one question by Asian-American students and parents: “Will being Asian hurt my chances?” Andrew Lam writes in The New York Times  that the problem with admissions isn’t other minority students from Black and Latino communities, but “White Students’ Unfair Advantage in Admissions."

VII. Asian Americans: Culture & Representation

Constance Wu has been outspoken on issues of Asian American identity and representation in television and films. (Image source: Time)

Constance Wu has been outspoken on issues of Asian American identity and representation in television and films. (Image source: Time)

The price of “cheap” Asian food: Diep Tran, chef and owner of Good Girl Dinette, a Vietnamese comfort food restaurant, writes an op-ed in NPR about the costs of “cheap” human labor when we demand “cheap” Asian food and asks for “deep compassion for and understanding of the pressures facing immigrant restaurateurs.”

In other culinary news, MissBish features Korean American adoptee and Top Chef winner Kristen Kish.

Hollywood: According to The Hollywood Reporter, Constance Wu of “Fresh Off the Boat” fame will star in “Crazy, Rich Asians,” a new feature film. Speaking of Hollywood media, Janice Min, the top editor at The Hollywood Reporter, will soon step down. Her seven year tenure led the publication to a “stunning turnaround.” Vanessa Hudgens, who stars in NBC’s Powerless, made her character half-Filipino which reflects her real-life heritage. (AsAmNews)

Print: The Los Altos Stage Company presented “Yellow Face” by Stanford alum Henry David Hwang. Celebrated writer Bharati Mukherjee, author of "The Middleman and Other Stories" and "Jasmine" died on January 28 at the age of 76. “The Middleman and Other Stories” won a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1988. According to NBC, Mukherjee’s “writing and research interests included immigration, American culture, multiculturalism, nationhood, alienation, and the struggles of Indian women.”

Outrageous editorial: Vogue magazine’s “diversity” issue featured a supermodel in a Japanese-themed spread, titled “Spirited Away” and exoticizing her as a geisha. Angry Asian Man explains (again) why “Yellow face is a really awful way to celebrate ‘diversity’”

Transgender rights: In contrast, Teen Vogue has done a far superior job than its parent magazine in covering politics in a sensitive, thoughtful and informed way, for example throwing light on the Trump administration’s withdrawal of protections for transgender people.

AAPI transgender activist Janet Mock, whose father is African American and mother is native Hawaiian, suggests in a New York Times op-ed that “Young People Get Trans Rights. It’s Adults Who Don’t.” Read her letter to transgender students in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s hostility to transgender people.

Tragedy: A 60-year old Asian grandfather was shot while playing Pokemon Go.

Legal Profession: Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) announced the selection of “nationally recognized attorney John C. Yang” as the new president and executive director of the organization. According to AAJC, Yang’s service includes terms as President, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (2003–04); Board Chair, AAJC (2005–08); and Board Member, American Bar Association Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Legal Profession (2009–12). He was co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (1997).


Read a hilarious feature on how, “This Kiwifruit Isn't From New Zealand at All. It's Chinese, and This Is How It Got Hijacked.” The kiwi “may be New Zealand's defining agricultural product, generating $1.05 billion in exports for the country in 2015. However, the fruit (Latin name Actinidia deliciosa) was originally known as the Chinese gooseberry.” Here’s the story of how it lost its Chinese roots through Western marketing.

Stanford Community Responds to Immigration Ban

How many Stanford Students are directly impacted by the ban?

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) reports that 73 students at Stanford were affected by the executive order that banned nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, including four undergraduate students. (Stanford Daily)

Several graduate students returned to the United States earlier than planned to avoid the ban, and one PhD candidate was detained and handcuffed after landing in New York.

Read their personal stories:

Jan 28: Sudanese student at Stanford detained, handcuffed at JFK airport (San Jose Mercury) (The New York Times)

Jan 29: Facebook post from Ramin Ahmari, a junior directly affected. "America, the place I went to for opportunity, academia and tolerance, has suddenly become a golden cage, one that hates the intersectionality of my identity in more than just one way—a fact it has made painfully clear now,"

Jan 30: International students reeling from Trump's travel ban (Stanford Daily)

Jan 30: Sudanese Stanford Ph.D. Student Speaks Out After Being Detained at JFK Under Trump Muslim Ban (Democracy Now) Video interview with Nisrin Elamin

Feb 2: Stanford: Trump immigration ban 'deeply antithetical' to university values (Palo Alto Weekly) Anita Husen, director of The Markaz: Resource Center, which supports the Stanford Muslim community, said that there are students, faculty and staff who are currently out of the country and cannot return, and others who have had to cancel academic and personal plans to travel abroad.

For example, junior Ramin Ahmari's life was thrown into "a state of uncertainty." He was born and raised in Germany by Iranian parents and "holds dual citizenship in both countries, although he doesn't identify as Iranian and has never lived there." He has decided to give up two minors and study abroad in Oxford, and will not leave the country until he finishes his undergraduate degree and gets a job. 

How do I get more information on the travel ban?

Bechtel International Center: Contact for questions on urgent travel. Please include your phone number in your email.

University guidance on immigration issues:

Other Stanford resources from Stanford Global Studies

Q&A with Stanford Law School Faculty:

Statements by the Stanford community

Administration: Community Letter from University Leadership | University statement of principles on international and undocumented persons | Bechtel International Center (see e-mails below) | President Marc Tessier-Lavigne's comments to the Faculty Senate on Jan 26, before the Executive Order was issued | T-L signs on to collective letter from university presidents | Stanford helps author amicus brief (see below) | T-L's Comments to Faculty Senate on Feb 9

Faculty: Jewish Studies Faculty (Stanford Daily) | Faculty Senate unanimously denounces Trump’s travel ban (Stanford Daily) | Sanctuary campus statement: Program in Writing and Rhetoric (Stanford Daily) | Letter calling for more action from the Administration (Stanford Daily) | Statement from the Iranian Studies Program

Students: Asian American Graduate Student Association AAGSA (Stanford Daily), Stanford Asian American Activism Committee SAAAC (via APALA)

Alumni: Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club (SAPAAC) Letter to Community

If you have more news or statements by members of the Stanford community, please contact

How else are Stanford students and alumni taking action?


Filing a lawsuit

Stanford student, ACLU sue Trump over immigration ban: "Hadil Al-Mowafak, a freshman studying at Stanford with an F-1 student visa, joined a UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate and a San Diego college student in filing the lawsuit Thursday through the ACLU." They are "suing President Donald Trump for ordering what they say is an unconstitutional immigration ban against seven Muslim-majority countries ... Al-Mowafak alleges that she is unable to visit her husband in Yemen because of an executive order Trump signed Jan. 27 ... The California students’ lawsuit, and similar lawsuits filed across the country, say that Trump’s order is an 'unlawful attempt to discriminate against Muslims and to establish a preference for one religion over another.'" (San Jose Mercury News, Stanford Daily, Palo Alto Weekly)


Visiting a Congressperson's office

Andrea Martinez '16, Samir Raiyani '98 and Christine Su '08, MBA '15, MS '15 visit a Congressional office to share their views with their representative. Christine writes:

Today we and other small business owners based in San Mateo, along with our employees, went over to Congresswoman Jackie Speier's office to urge opposition to the administration agenda.

This is what small business looks like—all of us are or have immigrant parents, cousins, and friends, and hire employees on OPTs, H1B visas, green cards. I was on Obamacare while starting my company. We are members and allies of the queer community. We want our local offices and services to work for us, not the federal government.

According to the director of the congresswoman's district office, "A group of constituents who care enough to show up at the office like you did is the most powerful statement you can make." We literally grabbed everyone on our office floor at lunch and walked over. This isn't hard. Go visit your elected officials! Let them know you're watching their votes.


Gathering and Sharing Resources

Van Anh Tran '13, a member of the Issues & Advocacy Committee of SAPAAC, has compiled the following resources for all people to know their rights.

Know Your Rights!

All persons have certain protections under the United States Constitution, whether you are a citizen or visitor to the country. If you are interested in finding out more about your rights, please visit:

iAmerica: "Know Your Rights" Know Your Rights material is also available in SpanishPolish,  KoreanTagalogSimplified ChineseVietnameseKhmerHindi and Haitian Creole.

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) 24/7 immigration hotline in Korean & English: 1-844-500-3222.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ)
AAAJ's Los Angeles chapter provides many "know your rights" resources:

The resources include KYR cards (made by AAAJ-Atlanta) in the following languages: ArabicBengaliBurmeseChineseGujaratiKarenKhmerKoreanNepaliUrduVietnamese


Jan 26: Executive Order leaked describing immigration ban. Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne mentions the news in his remarks to the Faculty Senate (summary, full remarks)

Jan 27: President Donald Trump issues an Executive Order entitled "Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States" (White House)

Jan 27, Jan 30: Bechtel Center sends e-mails to students (see below)

Jan 28: Community letter from Stanford leadership on immigration

“As an academic institution and as a community, Stanford welcomes and embraces students and scholars from around the world who contribute immeasurably to our mission of education and discovery. Inclusion and nondiscrimination are core values of our community, and they extend to people from around the world regardless of citizenship or nationality. We recognize that those who set national immigration policy must account for national security considerations to keep our country safe. But policies that restrict the broad flow of people and ideas across national borders, or that have the effect or appearance of excluding people based on religion or ethnicity, are deeply antithetical to both our mission and our values.”

Jan 29: Stanford’s support for our international and undocumented community, also referred to as a Statement of Principles

Jan 30: Jewish Studies faculty statement on Trump executive orders (Stanford Daily)

100 AAPI Organizations Sign Letter of Resistance vs. Trump, including the Stanford Asian American Activism Committee (Press releasePDF)

Feb 2: Stanford faculty pen an open letter to the University administration calling for bolder action in defense of immigrants and refugees (view draft letter) (Stanford Daily), including action to expand financial aid for undocumented students if the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs is terminated

Feb 2: Letter to the community from the Program in Writing and Rhetoric: Sanctuary campus statement from members of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric (Stanford Daily)

Feb 2: Open Letter to Trump from University Presidents (includes Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne) [PDF] 48 university presidents have asked the White House to “rectify or rescind” the order. “If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country. The order specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses.”

Feb 2: EVENT for those directly impacted by the ban

Feb 2: EVENT for the broader Stanford community

Feb 9: Tessier-Lavigne makes additional remarks to Faculty Senate: "Let me be clear: We intend to do everything in our power to protect and support our students, faculty and staff, including those who are undocumented. They are equal members of our community." (transcript)

Feb 13: Stanford has joined 16 other universities in filing an amicus brief challenging the executive order on immigration. The brief argues that the travel ban it imposed on people from seven countries threatens the universities’ academic mission. (Stanford News Service, Palo Alto Weekly) [PDF of amicus brief]

Related Newspaper Op-eds

Jan 30: "On Terror" Ethan Chua (Stanford Daily)

Feb 1: American Middle Eastern Network for Dialogue at Stanford (AMENDS) Summit at Stanford (Stanford Daily), a group whose April conference has been impacted by the executive order

Feb 3: "Losing the High Ground" Nicholas Obletz ’17 (Stanford Daily)

Bechtel International Center E-mails to Stanford Students

Date: January 27, 2017
Subject: UPDATED: URGENT: Executive Order signed suspending entry into the U.S.

Dear Members of the Stanford community:

This afternoon President Trump signed the Executive Order suspending entry into the U.S. as immigrants and non-immigrants (F/J visa) for 90 days from Iraq and Syria, and from countries of particular concern to the new administration (Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Yemen). 

Our recommendation is not to travel outside the U.S. at this time. We will keep you updated as analysis of this Executive Order unfolds.

Bechtel and other campus partners have met this afternoon to discuss the current situation and have planned a gathering at the law school next week. This gathering will include experts in immigration law who can inform our effected Stanford community members about their rights. There will also be other campus offices present to describe resources and provide support.

An email will be sent to you at the beginning of next week about the time and place of this gathering. Please know that the advisors at Bechtel are here to support and advise you.


The Bechtel International Center, Stanford University

Date: January 30, 2017
Subject: What You Should Know: Information For Stanford Community Members Affected by the Muslim Ban

Dear Students, 

This event is meant for those in the community who will be affected by the ban.  
There will be another event for others who are interested to learn more about the ban and support the community. We'll keep everyone updated. [Date][Time]

Executive orders banning travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries and suspending the refugee program have created widespread concern throughout our communities. Stanford students and visiting scholars from the listed countries, as well as those who have family members from those countries, are particularly at risk, and some have already experienced trouble returning to the United States after travel abroad.  In addition, future policy changes may expand the list of those affected to include citizens of other predominantly Muslim countries, and may include other effects on American Muslim communities.

This information session will provide information on the legal changes and how Stanford community members can protect themselves in the face of these changes.  It will also address other efforts at the university to support members of our community who are affected, including mental health support as well a broader advocacy efforts. Following the presentation, members of the audience will have a chance to ask individual questions from the immigration lawyers present. In order to keep this event a safe space for those who are affected by the new policies, this event is not open to the press.

The Bechtel International Center, Stanford University