We Need To Be Teaching Asian American and Pacific Islander History:

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In May of 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill requiring the teaching of Asian American and Pacific Islander history in K-12 curriculums in Florida public schools. This came right on the heels of DeSantis barring public schools from participating in a pilot of the College Board’s course on African American Studies.

In response to the Florida Governor’s decisions, many activists were rightly outraged and spoke out in opposition to the educational and social-emotional harm this decision would have on Black students in Florida, not to mention the rippling effects it could have on local and state policies in other parts of the country.

While the pair of policies may appear contradictory to many observers, this would not be the first time unsavory political actors have attempted to pit Asian Americans against other minority groups in the US.

The model minority myth was invented and continues to be perpetuated to block those seeking to end the educational, economic, and social disparities facing marginalized communities and hurts everyone including Asian American students and community members.

Unfortunately, often lost in the intentionally drummed up outrage is space for conversations about the harm being used as political pawns has on Asian American communities, along with the near complete lack of Asian American History or Pacific Islander history being taught in public schools. Just 11 states require K-12 students to learn any AAPI history. Clearly, we have a real need for a thorough and accurate Asian American History and Pacific Islander Education in our schools.

First popularized amid the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, the model minority myth was created to define Asian Americans in opposition to other racial/ethnic minority groups.

Relying on stereotypes and out-of-context data, this myth paints Asian Americans collectively as financially well-off, hardworking, and socially and politically docile. The model minority myth creates a monolithic story of over 26 million Americans with family ties to nearly 50 countries, erasing the vastly different backgrounds, histories, and lived experiences of dozens of different communities.

Like many marginalized communities in the US, most of us could sum up what we learn about Asian Americans into a few pages in our US history textbooks— if we’re lucky. For most American public school students, that might look like a brief discussion of Japanese internment during WWII, the red scare and rise of communist China, a blip about the Vietnam war, and for current students and recent graduates, possibly a lesson on the War on Terror. That is, if they make it that far before the end of year exams.

In these limited conversations, the stories, contributions of, and impacts on Asian Americans are rarely mentioned, if at all. In all these historical moments, Asian Americans are painted as “the foreign other” to be suspicious of, never as fellow Americans. This serves to isolate Asian American students and educators in the classroom and Asian parents and families in the broader community.

Discussions of the histories of Pacific Islanders in the US are even rarer. Few students in the US learn anything about the histories of the state of Hawai’i, US territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa, and millions of Americans with ancestry from the islands of the Pacific. These gaps in our textbooks end up disappearing the voices and contributions of Pacific Islander communities in the US.

The way we currently teach AAPI histories (when we do) leads to real world harm. When Asian American and Pacific Islander students see their community members exclusively painted as a threat when mentioned, and otherwise disappeared from the rest of their textbooks, that causes serious mental and emotional harm. And it has major impacts on these students’ social and educational outcomes.

Paired with the pressure of unattainable standards perpetuated by the model minority myth, Asian students report experiencing adverse mental health conditions, including alarmingly high reports of thoughts of or attempted self-harm. Pacific Islander communities similarly experience erasure of their histories from textbooks along with high rates of young people reporting mental health issues.

This also manifests into violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from people who have spent their whole lives being taught to distrust their peers and neighbors.

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When we teach an inaccurate and incomplete American history and refuse to be honest about the ways that shapes the present, all students are harmed as they are robbed of a quality education and the opportunity to learn about the contribution of Asian American communities. And Asian American and Pacific Islander students take the brunt of this harm— mentally, socially, and academically.

1. Resist the Bait.

Politicians have long used Asian Americans and Pacific Islander as a wedge between communities of color looking to advance goals of equity and freedom. We must avoid allowing ourselves to be distracted by these attempts to separate those of us pushing for change, and instead form relationships and find spaces of shared struggle and solidarity with everyone in the fight for educational equity for all students.

2. Get Educated.

It is critical to educate ourselves and the people in our lives on the impacts Asian Americans have had on this country, issues facing Asian American and Pacific Islander students and communities today, and the need to join in the fight for safe, equitable education for every child.

3. Push for Change.

We have to continue to push for more opportunities for teaching Asian American and Pacific Islander history both in specialized classed but also as mandatory parts of a comprehensive US history and civics education.

National Library Week is here, and the time to rally behind our libraries is now. As extreme politicians seek to attack education and defund libraries through harmful policies, our support during this week is more critical than ever.

That’s why we joined our partners at We Believe, PEN America, and EveryLibrary to sign the joint open Love Letter to the librarians who support our schools and communities. And now, it’s your turn!

1. Sign the Library Love Letter. Join Stand and our partners from We Believe, PEN America, EveryLibrary, and other organizations in showing your support to libraries and their staff as hubs of knowledge and community by signing onto this Library Love Letter!

2. Sign up for a library card. Sign up for a card to get access to a multitude of books, movies, and other resources all while supporting continued funding for your local library. 

3. Get Connected. Explore We Believe, PEN America, and EveryLibrary’s National Library Week Action Guide for a range of activities at various levels of engagement, from sharing virtual stickers to urging Congress to protect the freedom to read.

One of the most effective ways we can all support libraries and library staff this National Book Week is by signing up for a library card and visiting our local library branches! 

Need some suggestions on your next read? We asked our staff members what books they’re reading. Here are 5 reads they can’t stop raving about:

drawing of martin luther king jr giving a speech
drawing of martin luther king jr giving a speech

We All Have A Role In The Movement

This MLK Day, remember that each of us has the power to make a difference!

I’ve always been passionate about making the world a better place. I knew at an early age that I wanted to spend my life helping others. Important figures, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to stand up for what I believe in and speak truth to power.

But their legacies also cast a long shadow. As I grew up, I began to feel less and less sure of my ability to effect change. I thought it would be impossible to make a real difference if I didn’t have the charisma, the fearlessness, the ability to build a movement of my own.

That fear kept me frozen. I felt like nothing I did was enough. If the impact wasn’t massive, I thought, why do it at all?

A mentor of mine eventually sat me down and told me, “Jamayka, your hands are not big enough to hold the whole world. Focus on what you can change right now, right here, today.”

Like most teenagers, I rolled my eyes at that advice, and continued to let my fear of failure prevent me from seeing the real impact everyday people, like my mentor, were having on the people in our community— one hot meal, or ride to a townhall, or enlightening conversation at a time.

It wasn’t until I had the chance to really learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the hundreds of thousands of regular people that changed the world, that my mentor’s advice made sense to me. Dr. King’s words and actions were inspiring and impactful, but the movement we identify him with existed long before he was born and continues to this day.

We don’t have to head a march of 100,000 people in order to be leaders in our own communities and make changes that make the lives of those around us a little safer, easier, fairer.

This MLK Day, let us all remember that each one of us is a critical part of the movement to create a just and equitable education system for every child. We all have a role to play, and each of us, when we come together with our community members, can make a real difference.

What actions will you take this MLK Day in support of students, educators, and schools? Let us know by taking our MLK Day Pledge to Act.

Need some ideas for how you can get involved? Here are a few ways you can take action today!

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Become an Education Champ in 2024!

5 Ways You Can Make A Difference For Students Today

If there’s one lesson from last year, it’s that good things happen when we come together. As we step into the new year, let’s continue leveraging the power of community. Regardless of your advocacy role, here are 5 ways you can make a difference for students this year:

1. Amid ongoing book bans, consider taking action outside of the classroom. Visit your local library with your student to help expose your student to more diverse stories and improve their literacy. Signing up for a library card can go a long way in supporting your library system. Look to our library friend @mychal3ts for recommendations and inspiration.

2. Harness the power of community! Collaborate with local organizations, educators, and parents to create a supportive network for students. By working together, we can address challenges, foster inclusivity, and create a nurturing environment for learning. Join our Education Champions Facebook group to find like-minded education advocates and resources.

3. Commit to actively supporting & advocating for students. Whether it’s providing mentorship or amplifying student voices, let’s ensure they feel seen & supported. Check out Rose from Concrete, an organization working to support students in their community.

4. Think globally, act locally. Advocate for policies that prioritize student well-being and education at the community level. Together, we can build a supportive environment that fosters growth, learning, and success for EVERY student. Get involved here.

5. Stay Connected! Follow us on social media and join our email list to receive updates, resources, and action opportunities all 2024!

What are some ways you are planning to be an advocate for students in 2024? What are some tips you would give to others who want to make a difference for students? Let us know in the comments below!




A Q&A with our partners at Rose from Concrete, a youth led organization working to support students in their community through mutual aid, direct advocacy, and youth mentorship.

It’s because of community members like you that we are able to join our partners in the fight for an equitable education for students. Connect with us to receive regular updates that empower you to make a meaningful impact on the lives of students and contribute to a more just and equitable education system!

what inspired you to form this organization?

Kayla Williams:

We at Rose from Concrete have grown to understand love as the will to extend yourself for either your own or another person’s growth. Thank you bell hooks. And we’ve got examples of love and what it looks like in action, right? Because we believe that love is action it’s not just words or feelings. And so I say that I love myself, I love my community, I love my people.

And I’m frustrated by the conditions that we are often expected to live in, in complacency. But how could I be complacent? How could I not be, you know, angered, fearful, upset, by, you know, the scarcity, the violence that we’re, you know, expected to live under? So, yeah,

I’m motivated by love to play my role in creating community or co-creating a world that reflects the needs and desires of my community.

Shanniah Wright:

There’s a long list of reasons that I was able to co-found Rose from Concrete. The main one, I think, is because I come from a single parent household. My mom raised both me and my brother by herself, and I had to watch her every day, not even knowing that sometimes think about how she was going to feed us, how she was going to pay rent and just ultimately watching the system in general fail her.

She was able to put me in a position where I can think critically about the issues and problems that go on around me, which allowed me to co-create and co-found Rose from Concrete. But I know that every single day that there are other single mothers, there are other community members or just people in general that the system is consistently failing.

I think that people should not have to choose between happiness and survival. I think that survival should be the bare minimum and that everyone should be able to choose to do what they want to do without the pressures of whether they were going to eat, sleep or breathe weighing down on them.

Osariemen Aiyevbomwan:

What pushed me to start this work is that I come from a big Nigerian-American household, and so for many of my siblings and myself included, being black and marginalized has really disrupted our connections to safety in our homes and in the world at large. And the violence inflicted


on us has corrupted our intimate relationships with ourselves, but also with one another and each other. And because of these struggles, we’ve been alienated from our home, whether it be an unconscious or conscious effort.

And I’m of the mind that we all belong here, that we all have a right to feel safe and free during our time here on this earth. And so,

I want to restore the relationships with ourselves in our environment so that our descendants inherit a more free world.

I believe that we are redeemable and that justice is possible through coordinated action to get us free. And for me, RFC has presented the opportunity to do just that and also feel at home while doing it.

where did the name “rose from concret” come from and how is it reflected in the work you all do?

Shanniah Wright:

Rose from the concrete is a play on word rose as in the verb and the noun, the rose as a flower rose, as in the act of rising. And this is a really cool play on word because we use concrete as talking about the jungle that is New York, the concrete that we walked every single day that we grow up in roses sprouting from it and actually rising from our circumstances.

I love our name just because it allows us to create and nurture and play on those words of growth and growing and something beautiful, which are flowers and concrete being something rough. And as a big Tupac fan Rose that grew from the concrete. I think we embody that and we want other people to see themselves in that beautiful lens as a rose as something to be nurtured and grown. And that can grow in the most unexpected places.



Kayla Williams:

I would say that students face very a multifaceted set of challenges. I think I kind of think of them or characterize them in three ways. First, I think there are material and basic physiological needs, right? We live in a society that allows scarcity to exist in abundance, which means that families deal with things like poverty, housing insecurity, food in access, that sort of thing.

And so children, you know, they belong to families, they are part of families. And they don’t simply shed that when they walk into the school door. So, you know, children, many of them are coming to school with these material needs still existing. And then, of course, they’re dealing with, I think the attack on education that we’re seeing. But that has been going on for, you know, frankly, forever.

Right. Are we ever really learning the truth I think an empowering truth in our schools, that’s up for debate. And then I think there is the socio-emotional, you know, challenges that come with being a young person, feeling powerless in a society that is telling you what you should look like, what you should be like, constantly reminding you how you, you know, pale in comparison to that.


Osariemen Aiyevbomwan:

When I was in school feeling the pressure to remain OK, and also remain a good student, but also navigating a school environment that was very frustrating and dismissive of my experiences I leaned on the experiences of those who came before me. So mentorship really carried me through my school experience. And that is why RFC prioritizes peer mentorship and community as a protective factor in the lives of young students. When feeling anxiety it’s something that I do to reassure the youth in my community is letting them know that they have resources and they have people who look like them, who can relate to their experiences and keep them grounded in the power of love and in the power of community. So that is something that has also reassured me.



Kayla Williams:

I would say that we aim to respond to the three buckets of needs that we identified. So material needs we aim to address through our mutual aid efforts. So aiming to have resources and funds pooled together so that if, you know, emergent needs do arise for youth, that we are able to offer them, you know, tangible support or connect them to someone who can do that.

Because once again, how can you prioritize the academic or the emotional if you know, you have more dire needs in front of you? We also offer, you know, like academic training and curriculum. So tutoring. Shaquille recently started a robotics program, you know, like to give tangible academic skills and support. And then finally we aim at the socio-emotional through our curricula on love and through our mentorship program.

I would definitely recommend that people just start to have conversations. I think, like I said before, one of the most powerful tools


of opposition is to convince folks that they are alone, that you are an individual against capitalism, you are an individual against white supremacy, you are an individual against misogyny. And so you feel like in response to that, I need to, you know, pick myself up by the bootstraps instead of coming together as a collective right, as a team, as a group, you know, as is done, you know, across sectors, right?

Usually creating progress in the direction that we don’t want. People aren’t doing that as individuals. They’re doing that, you know, with the help of decades of systems and policies and groups and people. And, you know, so I think talk to people around you recognize that you’re not alone in your beliefs and your desires, what you want to see in the world. And once you start to realize, wait you want the world to look like this, you want it to look like this too, you do too. Why doesn’t it? Right.

Collectively, we have power, we have voting power, we have spending power, we have political power. So, you know, why doesn’t the world look how we want it to look?


Osariemen Aiyevbomwan:

Some starting points for parents and for the folks who are looking to be more and more involved in their community would definitely be to start small. I’ll start looking right. We are under the misguided impression that we need to go elsewhere and abroad to find something good. But I would say talk to your neighbor for an extra ten to 15 minutes.

Share your struggles, problem solve together. You don’t know what nuggets of wisdom these conversations may unlock within us just by virtue of our continued existence here in these environments, we all have access to so much knowledge and expert or problem solving skills that deserve to be shared and used to generate community solutions.

So form little groups and little gathering spaces and be intention in fostering those intimate connections. You never know what love and magic comes out of those efforts.

Kayla Williams:

Folks can support funds. Like I said before, we want to be able to respond to immediate needs, physiological needs, basic needs through resources and funds that we pull together so folks can contribute to that. And I think we need support as well as an organization, marketing support, communications, volunteering you know, media, really anything and everything we could really support on.

And I would say, yeah, it’s a mutual aid organization and so we aim to bring our time, our resources, our efforts, our knowledge together and to collectively drive change with that so you can fit in that wherever you know, feels right to you. But I would also say that you can do things in your own community too closer to you, with your people, your family, your friends, your you know, I think that is a larger vision that we’re working together for that has, I think, space in your city, in your home.

It doesn’t have to be in Brooklyn where we are, though that would be nice. We believe that love is a force that can through it all, despite the concrete, grow roses, create futures that we’re told are impossible ones of life and, you know, nourishment and fruit. So, yeah, we believe that we can do the impossible collectively, and through love at Rose from Concrete.


Your Standoscope: Leo Season

Time to Shine This Leo Season!

After the last few weeks in introspective and emotional Cancer, most of us are ready to finally let loose and join Leo for a moment in the sun. This is the time for each zodiac sign to take a page from proud Leo and stand confidentially in their unique abilities to be leaders in their community.

Leo season encourages us to tap into our creative, expressive, and social side, embracing our sense of community. By using this time to connect with others and raise awareness around public education, you can contribute to creating a more inclusive and supportive educational environment for all students.  

How can you leverage the fiery energy of Leo Season to make an impact in your community? Check out your Standoscope below to find out! 

Want to get monthly Standoscopes to your inbox with opportunities to learn more about educational issues, and ways to get involved? Sign up here to stay informed!

Aries ♈︎(March 21 – April 19)

The theme of this season for Aries is self-expression! Use that spark of innovation from passionate Leo to get creative and share the story that inspired you to become an education advocate. Tap into the the leadership energy of Leo and use your story to inspire other’s to take up the fight for education equity!

Taurus ♉︎ (April 20 – May 20)

This Leo season is shining light on your home life. This is the perfect time to talk with your friends, family and loved ones about the issues that matter most to you! Learn how to have those important conversations with your community using our Story Building Toolkit!

Gemini ♊︎(May 21 – June 20)

This Leo season has you feeling reinvigorated and ready to be social! Lean into this communicative energy at our monthly Learn From History call! Learn from other education champions about ways you can get involved in making a difference in your school community, and in communities across the country!

Cancer ♋︎(June 21 – July 22)

You may be a bit tired from your birthday season, but that wont stop fiery Leo from moving forward and bringing you along for the ride! Look forward to a burst of confidence this month, Cancer. Use that confidence to push back against attack on honest and inclusive education by sharing your experience learning about Black history in school!

Leo ♌︎(July 23 – August 22)

Happy birthday, Leo! Your birthday season may leave you feeling reflective about how you can be the best version of yourself. Take some inspo from mom and education champion, Ida, about how you can make a difference in your community.

Virgo ♍︎(August 23 – September 22)

Busybody Virgo might be feeling uncharacteristically sleepy this Leo season. Resist the urge to fight this introspective energy. Instead, lean into the cozy with some heartfelt summer reading to inspire you to learn more about the communities around you.

Libra ♎︎(September 23 – October 22)

You may be thinking about your legacy this Leo season. As you consider what mark you want to leave on this world, look for inspiration form other education advocates about what they are doing to make a positive impact in their communities at our Monthly Learn From History call.

Scorpio ♏︎(October 23 – November 21)

Bold Leo is pushing you to be uncharacteristically daring in your actions. Don’t be afraid to take the stage and use this energy to inspire others to feel equally confident by sharing your story of why you want to fight for education equity!

Sagittarius ♐︎(November 22 – December 21)

Adventurous Sagittarius and passionate Leo season are a match made in heaven. Your thirst for knowledge is even greater this month. Quench that thirst and learn more about the long fight for educational equity in Asian American and African American communities.

Capricorn ♑︎(December 22 – January 19)

Leo season is asking you to step out of your comfort zone, especially as it related to your community members. This energy is encouraging you to be vulnerable and share what matters to you most. Share why learning about Black history matters to you and help push back against attacks on inclusive and honest education.

Aquarius  ♒︎(January 20 – February 18)

This Leo season emphasizing your house of relationships and encouraging you to have important conversations with the people that matter to you most. Learn how to have those important conversations with your community using our Story Building Toolkit!

Pisces ♓︎(February 19 – March 20)

Watery Pisces may be feeling fired up this Leo Season. Use that passionate energy to make changes for students around the country at our Monthly Learn From History call!

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Your Standoscope: Cancer Season

It’s Cancer season and we’re… emotional?

As the Sun enters Cancer, a season that embodies compassion, nurturing, and emotional sensitivity, this is an opportunity for each zodiac sign to tap into their unique qualities to become more involved in their community, particularly in areas concerning education equity and student success.  

Cancer season encourages us to tap into our empathetic nature and embrace our sense of community. By using this time to connect with others and raise awareness around public education, you can contribute to creating a more inclusive and supportive educational environment for all students.  

How can you leverage the energy of Cancer Season to make an impact in your community? Check out your Standoscope below to find out! 

Want to get monthly Standoscopes to your inbox with opportunities to learn more about educational issues, and ways to get involved? Sign up here to stay informed!

Aries ♈︎(March 21 – April 19)

Known for their enthusiasm and leadership, Aries might be feeling a little less fiery this month. Lean into this cozy energy and snuggle up with some heartfelt summer reading, like our post on the long history of Afro-Asian American Solidarity.  

Taurus ♉︎ (April 20 – May 20)

Usually slow and deliberate Taureans are being hit with a burst of energy this Cancer season and might feel the desire to be more involved and use their voices! With their practicality and determination, Taureans can make a difference by offering resources or donating books to schools and local libraries or advocating for literacy programs.  

Gemini ♊︎(May 21 – June 20)

Geminis are known to be excellent communicators and adapt well to new environments, and this month will be no different. Continue to develop these strengths in our Disrupting Disinformation training! By spreading awareness through informative discussions, Geminis can inspire positive change. 

Cancer ♋︎(June 21 – July 22)

Happy Birthday Cancers! As natural nurturers and empathetic individuals, Cancers can actively contribute to their community by initiating mentorship programs, like Rose from Concrete. By providing emotional support to students and advocating for their needs, Cancers can help create a safe and inclusive environment in schools. 

Leo ♌︎(July 23 – August 22)

Leos, with their natural charisma and passion, can at times move full steam ahead without stopping. Take this month to unwind and reflect on your experiences with the education system, what’s happening in your community, and what you can do about it.  

Virgo ♍︎(August 23 – September 22)

Virgos’ attention to detail and analytical nature makes them everyone’s first call when they need backup, and this month will be no different. Give yourself the tools you need to support your community at our Disrupting Disinformation Training.  

Libra ♎︎(September 23 – October 22)

Libras, known for their diplomacy and desire for fairness, will be having those skills recognized this month! Lean into your natural charisma and learn how to have important conversations with your community around educational equity. By bringing different communities together, you can help promote collaboration and create sustainable initiatives that support students for the long haul. 

Scorpio ♏︎(October 23 – November 21)

Scorpio, this month is all about broadening your horizons and working with others. Scorpios’ passion and determination make you ideal advocates for students’ rights and safety. Help organize rallies, sign petitions, and join social media campaigns to raise awareness and push for policy changes that prioritize the well-being of students in public schools. 

Sagittarius ♐︎(November 22 – December 21)

Watery Cancer is really activating your emotional side, Sagittarius. Lean into that slow and reflective energy with some heartfelt summer reading, like our post on the long history of Afro-Asian American Solidarity

Capricorn ♑︎(December 22 – January 19)

Capricorns’ practicality and long-term vision make them great candidates for addressing issues in public education and promoting student success. This month is opening up space for you to communicate your thoughts and feelings with those around you. Lean into this social energy with other education advocates on our monthly Learn From History Partner Call!

Aquarius  ♒︎(January 20 – February 18)

Aquarians’ innovative thinking and desire for social progress can inspire them to create solutions that help bridge the educational divide. Cancer season will remind you that even the little changes can make a big difference. Find actionable steps to get involved and support students this month!  

Pisces ♓︎(February 19 – March 20)

Pisces, known for their compassion and empathy, can use Cancer Season to nurture relationships within their communities. Think community gatherings, creative workshops, and mentorship. Offering guidance, support, and encouragement to empower students in their educational journey can have an incredible impact. 

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Asian american history and afro-asian solidarity

The long history of Afro-Asian American solidarity and the importance of teaching Asian American History

Recently, Florida has joined the rising number of states mandating Asian American history be taught in public schools. While schools finally beginning to discuss the contributions of Asian Americans is something to be celebrated, the news came on the heels of the state banning the newly created AP African American History curriculum. To many observers, this new Asian American history requirement appeared to be another case in the long history of the media and politicians pitting Asian American communities against African Americans. From the origins of the model minority myth that was propagated to deflect from claims of anti-Black racism during the 1960s Civil Rights movement, to high profile court cases surrounding affirmative action in schools, we have time and again seen Asian Americans used to create a wedge between communities of color, before being disappeared from political discourse and school curriculums.

Lost in these moments of manufactured tension is the long history of solidarity between the two communities. From Frederick Douglass fighting against the Chinese Exclusion Act to Grace Lee Boggs’ organizing alongside Black Autoworkers in Detroit, our histories and fights for freedom have always been intertwined. To teach Asian American history while erasing Black American history is to distort the decades of Asian-Black struggle and community building.

The following is a conversation between myself (African American), Avery Crocker (African American), and Elizabeth Li (Biracial Chinese American), on what we did (not) learn about Asian American history in school, how we have formed community across ethnic and racial lines, and what solidarity can look like.

“Solidarity is community, and when it comes to the histories of Asian Americans and Black Americans, if we’re curious enough, and willing to listen-we’ll find that those histories are way more seeped in solidarity and similarity than they are in division and difference.”

Jamayka Young:

Was Asian American history something you both learned about in school? Personally, I learned almost nothing of the history of Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders including the US colonies in the Pacific. I do remember one moment in my world history we were supposed to learn about the Ottoman empire, but ended up skipping over it so we could focus more time on the European Enlightenment. That was pretty much the only conversation we were going to have on Asia for the whole year, and even still it was cut.  

Practically everything I learned about Asian American history or Asian continental history was learned from the internet especially social media or from being in community with friends, neighbors, and peers. I also learn quite a bit as a part of my African American Studies degree where Asian American history often intersected with important moments in African American history.   

Avery Crocker:

Like you, Jamayka, I have little to no memory of learning about Asian American history. A lot of my education was European focused or on the flip side, about the oppression of Black Americans. Other marginalized communities weren’t mentioned nearly as much if at all.

Two of my closest friends in middle and high school were Asian American and I learned so much about their culture without even realizing it until years later. From attending ceremonies to experiencing authentic dishes, I was immersed in a way that was so valuable to me. In these moments, it didn’t occur to me that I wasn’t learning about these things in school, but I think about how great that would have been to have had that more formal experience along with what I was experiencing outside of school.

Elizabeth Li:

My dad came in as a guest to teach about Asian Americans at my school – when we had “China” units. No, my dad was not a teacher. He worked in a Chinese restaurant along with my entire family. He taught us from an assimilated immigrant’s point of view to a classroom full of white children who his daughter was DESPERATELY trying to fit in with. To say it was far from a complete history is an understatement. That being said, it didn’t make me any less proud. I loved the fact that we got to share this part of us, because even though I actively hid that side of me, it was that part of my identity where I felt the most comfort. I learned zero history about Pacific Islanders, which is often left out of the classroom and mainstream discussion. Inter-Asian conflicts, immigration…nothing

When I moved to high school and we started to expand to world history, the extend of our education was Asians equals communists. And how the western world needed to save them.

Mr. Li in Elizabeth’s Classroom

Jamayka Young:

I can definitely relate to learning about Asian history by experiencing other cultures! My closest friend growing up was Indian, and eating roti at her house initially confused me because I always associated roti with the Caribbean, and it was through that experience that I learned about the South Asian diaspora in the Caribbean and the exploitation of Indo-Caribbean indentured laborers.

Did you ever learn these connections between communities in school?

Elizabeth Li:

I had lived experience alongside Black Americans in my community outside of school, but it wasn’t WELL into my adulthood that I made historical connections and discoveries around solidarity. Once I gained access to diverse historical materials and first-hand accounts, I could see that it wasn’t just some weird fantasy that I was living in, but that there was more instances of solidarity and shared experience than there was of the divisiveness that was portrayed in the mainstream and within my classroom.

Jamayka Young:

I knew from a young age that everyone thought that Black students were “lazy” or “unintelligent” and that there was a stereotype of the high achieving Asian student, but I didn’t really put those two stereotypes in conversation until adulthood.

Elizabeth Li:

I grew up with such a large dichotomy between my home life and school life. So, it was a constant internal debate. When I was in minority communities, Black communities and Asian communities – I’d feel comfort, affirmation of my feelings, understood. But in the classroom, the histories I was taught or the histories that were completely erased from my learning made me feel like maybe I’m doing this wrong.

That’s why I’m so invested in the present space of speaking up about erasure, uncovering untold stories, and ensuring that people feel seen, because they’re not alone.

Avery Crocker:

My friends and I had concerns and questioned our experiences as well but only with each other. It wasn’t until our senior year that people started a Black student union and people started to voice these things outside of their own personal groups. After that group was formed, there was such a big difference in how the school did things and acknowledged what was happening for different cultures and communities. The curriculum was pretty much the same, but there were more efforts and actions taken outside of classes that were student led and supported by staff.

Jamayka Young:

In light of the recent state laws that appear to be using Asian American history to further divisions between communities of color, what does solidarity between Asian and Black Americans look like to you?

Avery Crocker:

After all this reflection, my initial thoughts are to talk about it! Share these experiences you’re having with each other and what the truth behind these things are. And also ask questions. Challenge folks when they try to divide these communities. Use your voice, educate when possible, and get involved where you can.

Elizabeth Li:

A quote that motivates me in my work is from civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen “the problem is invisibility, therefore, the solution has to be informed, thoughtful visibility.” 

Telling stories, engaging in community, being curious, sharing experience…to me that is how we breakdown the wedge between minority groups that is engineered and reinforced to perpetuate white supremacy.

Solidarity is community, and when it comes to the histories of Asian Americans and Black Americans, if we’re curious enough, and willing to listen-we’ll find that those histories are way more seeped in solidarity and similarity than they are in division and difference. 

Defend DACA
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In August of this year, Ashley Dominguez Garcia provided an update on the standing of DACA, Stand Up For DREAMers: An Update on DACA, which highlighted organizations such as FWD.us that are working to get the program reinstated and to create pathways to citizenship for all DREAMers.

Following the piece, Avery Crocker and Ashley Dominguez Garcia spoke with FWD.us’ Political Director of Immigration Campaigns, Eddie A. Taveras about the current state of DACA, the impact losing it would have on recipients and other undocumented individuals, and how companies and organizations can provide support during this time.

Ashley Garcia: DACA offers temporary protection from deportation and permission to work, permission to get driver’s licenses for hundreds of thousands of young people who came to the U.S as children. That being the general knowledge surrounding DACA, for people that aren’t keeping up with the current news about the program, can you give us an overview of what’s happening around DACA and the recent conversations around it?

Eddie Taveras: Essentially, DACA was a temporary program that was started by the Obama Administration that was pushed by DREAMers as a temporary fix given that at the time the DREAM Act and for the last few decades, the DREAM Act has been unable to move in Congress, particularly in the Senate. It’s been a very successful program as you noted. Currently, there are about 610,000 DACA recipients. I think at the height it was closer to 700,000. People have fallen off due to adjustment of status and so on and so forth and that’s why the number has gone down. It’s been widely successful in terms of making sure there is social and economic opportunity for not just DACA recipients, but for the families and communities that they are a part of. I mean, we’re talking about billions of dollars in taxes that they contribute to but also in economy and expenditure.

The wonderful thing about the program is that it highlights anywhere from the extraordinary immigrant to the ordinary immigrant who’s just doing their everyday life. Things from doctors and nurses to entrepreneurs, but also teachers who have been at the forefront of educating our next generation. So we’ve seen how the perception of these individuals who came as children but now the average age is 28 are stuck in temporary limbo every two years and so when you’re looking at the temporary impacts of this, it actually limits a lot of folks because you’re never guaranteed that your application will get renewed and you’re in this constant fear that the government can take it away at any point, which leads us to the point here. In 2017, the Trump Administration tried to end DACA. The Supreme Court did block it, but that was based on a procedural question. Currently, the constitutionality of DACA is what’s being questioned and it’s now in the fifth circuit courts of appeal. So essentially, they are looking at whether or not the executive office has the authority to provide temporary relief but also work permits, which those not only serve as temporary reliefs but in combination with work permits is what make the DACA program such a success. So what you’re having is very conservative judicial courts across the country but in particular, the fifth circuit that has been very much in their ruling unfavorable to immigrants and immigrant-related issues. 

Based on our specific analysis, we don’t believe the fifth circuit will have a favorable ruling on DACA. Essentially, there are three scenarios that can happen. The first one is very improbable which is that they find DACA constitutional and the program continues. The second is they find that the deferment of deportation is legal but not the work permit. The third is that they find the whole program unconstitutional. What would happen then is that we would appeal and that will go to the Supreme Court, which of course has become more conservative and so we don’t believe that’s also a winning strategy for that. So with the appeal, the four judges have to vote in favor of hearing the case. Now, that would include the three liberal justices or what they consider liberal justices. Five judges would need to then vote to stay the renewal. Currently, the district court judge Hanen, of Texas, essentially halted new applicants from getting into the DACA program. This means the high school students that graduated and will be graduating over the next three years no longer have access to DACA. The only people that can renew are the people that have already been in the program. If the judges decide to keep the stay will depend on the Supreme Court until they hear the case. Until the court hears it and makes a decision, which wouldn’t be until the summer of 2023, DACA will continue to be in limbo. Even if all things happen where they hear the case and decide to allow renewals to occur, we don’t believe DACA will surpass 2023. 

AG: President Biden recently shared a statement saying that he is sharing his plans to provide protections for current recipients. What impact has this had on current students that are not eligible for the program today? Is there a plan currently for students that are not eligible?

ET: Our report looks into the 100,000 high school students that are graduating and are not eligible for DACA. In terms of what’s happening for current undocumented high school students or those that have graduated prior to the decision to halt, there is no current plan that I’m aware of by the administration to provide them some sort of temporary relief. That’s part of the fight that we are in; trying to make sure that Congress sees this as a very detrimental and urgent moment to provide relief and permanent protections not just for DACA recipients, but for DREAMers including those that for whatever reason didn’t meet the criteria but are nevertheless DREAMers.

We expect the Republicans to at the very least gain control of the House which means that any bills that pass, Republicans will have to vote for in order for it to go to the President. House minority leader, McCarthy noted that he is not putting anything on immigration in, so we already have that confirmation. Senator Tillis, the Republican Senator of North Carolina was recently on a committee hearing where he noted that if something were to happen it would need to be before the next Congress so by the end of the year. We have a very limited opportunity to try to get permanent protections for these individuals that have either lost their temporary protections, will lose them, or have never had it. 

AC: What has the response been from parents and teachers regarding what’s ahead for DACA as it relates to students and children?

ET: What I can assume and predict based on observation, experiences, and conversations with other partners who have that proximity is that a lot of students become aware during high school that they are undocumented and what opportunities lie, and the limitations of opportunities that they won’t have due to lack of status. That’s the disheartening part; high school is supposed to be a time for opportunity and a time to figure out who you’re going to be and we as a nation putting those limitations and essentially stamping out those dreams is what’s disheartening. It’s very difficult to see when there’s a lack of resources on how someone can get either temporary status or something of a relief that allows them to live their best, fulfilled life. 

AC: What are the contrasts between those who have been provided opportunities for relief versus those who haven’t? 

ET: You see the trajectories of opportunities with individuals who have DACA and individuals who don’t have DACA. Just a level of exposure to different things and not just career-wise but mobility. The fact that you can move across the country, get on an airplane domestically, and if you get advanced parole, even internationally. Our immigration system is built on limiting mobility. As much as an economic force of limitation, it’s also limiting mobility. This doesn’t mean that all DACA recipients are safe or feel safe because it is a temporary program that is not guaranteed as we’ve seen time and time again. But no one can deny the success of the program. Every time you pull this, the majority of Republicans, Independents, and of course Democrats are in support of DACA, DREAMers, and a pathway to citizenship for that specific part of the population. 

FWD.us has come out with a few articles recently explaining the economic impact ending DACA would have on the country and videos saying that almost every major company in the US has benefitted by having DACA by employing these recipients.

AG: Why do you think they’re not fighting more to have these permanent protections given to DREAMers considering they’re relying on their labor?

ET: Businesses should be doing more, everybody should be doing more. I think it depends on the sector and the company. There is a coalition of businesses that support and advocate for DREAMers and DACA recipients, called The Coalition for the American Dream. This coalition specific of businesses have been behind putting amicus brief on behalf of litigations for DACA recipients, and have been putting out press releases and statements in support of DACA recipients. So there is a coalition behind it, but I think sometimes it gets into the ether of everybody’s specific circles, but it does have high support by businesses, and not just businesses that are part of this coalition but others that support this as well. There is not just an economic interest because it is in our best interest to ensure we provide pathways to citizenship for undocumented folks. 

AG: What are some things organizations like Stand can do to further fight for permanent protections for students specifically?

ET: I think it’s important for folks to get community members not just involved, but local businesses too. It’s important to make sure they’re vocal about their support for immigrants and DREAMers and get them to connect with elected officials. I like to take the local approach. They need to feel connected to the issue someway and somehow. That’s one way of knowing whether those are their consumers. This is a family, a friend, or a community member. These are workers. It’s making sure there is a connection to getting people to understand how it affects them. This is not to just distract from the humanity aspect of these individuals, we’re talking about human beings, and they’re not just numbers. At the same time, there will be an economic effect for folks if and when DACA is taken away. There’s already an economic effect because when we’re talking about immigration and legal immigration which is what a lot of folks like to know, there is actually no pathway to legal adjustment of status here. The ones that are there are already in backlog and so over the last few years, there’s been a net decrease of migrants coming in here and we’re starting to see the impacts of the economy. 

We are going to be behind not just in education, but in technology and innovation. When you look at these tech companies that are usually started by an immigrant or son or daughter of an immigrant, these are not just stories, these are facts that have numbers that we can quantify to the positive impact it has on this country. So you’re starting to see the decrease of migration on all levels here, from high schools to international to undocumented. There’s been a flux of reasons people have been coming here and climate change is a big reason why people are migrating, but we are starting to see those effects. 

AC: Are there any other resources people can use that you’d like to share out?

ET: Yes, there are two I’d like to point out. The first is How Can Organizations and Companies Support DACA Recipients and Their Communities? This is from our perspective of how people can show up for DACA recipients that are in staff or community. A lot of the time, it’s making sure that you’re paying for renewals, providing resources and legal support for folks and their families and so that’s a guide we’ve been putting out for employers to adhere to. The last one is Informed Immigrant which is an online immigrant resource center that we run. We partner with national organizations and it has a lot of information, not just on DACA, but TPS, Public Charge, and Know Your Rights. The website is fully translatable in English and Spanish, but it also has other materials in other languages such as Mandarin and so on and so forth. So those are the two resources I’d recommend for folks to use. 

Avery Crocker is Stand for Children’s Social Media and Digital Marketing Specialist. Ashley Garcia is Stand for Children’s former National Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Eddie A. Taveras is the Political Director of Immigration Campaigns for FWD.us.

The future of DACA is once again left in limbo. Earlier in July, a federal appeals court in New Orleans heard arguments on the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). This decision, which will most likely be decided in a few months, will affect the future of over 600,000 DREAMers – undocumented youth who were brought over to the United States as children.

Many DREAMers are stuck in an uncertain state, not knowing whether their legal status will continue to grant them permission to stay in school or work without risk of deportation. Under the Obama administration in 2012, DACA was created and positioned as a temporary solution to provide protections from deportation to people who were brought over to the US as children. Since then, DREAMers have been living and working in the United States for decades making significant contributions to their communities and our nation’s economy.

However, DACA was never meant to be a permanent solution for DREAMers, and since then, the program has been under constant threat. In 2017, President Trump halted the program and introduced many restrictions including and barring first-time applicants for DACA from applying. In 2021, a Texas judge ruled that the program was illegal. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is not granting or processing any new applications. People who would have been eligible for the program are now living in the United States without any protections and without DACA, all these people will face the threat of deportation.

Last year, the Biden administration appealed that order, and now the 5th circuit court of appeals must decide on the legality of the program. Many of these recipients are disappointed by the lack of action taken by the Biden Administration since this impacts their abilities to work, drive, or remain in school. Ending DACA would open the door to deportation as well, leaving the only country that many of these recipients have ever known with no resources or support networks.

With a ruling expected any day now, Congress must deliver permanent protections for all DACA recipients and all youth who are eligible for the program. This is why it is imperative that we support organizations like United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led network and FWD.us, who are fighting for DACA to be reinstated and for a pathway to citizenship to be offered to all DREAMers.