ACLU Essay

Hi friends!

Today I received some exciting news: I won the ACLU Washington State youth essay contest, so I’ll be going to the ACLU Membership Conference in Washington DC in June. Some people have been wondering if I could share the essay, so here it is!

The prompt was: What do you think is the most important civil liberties or civil rights issue your generation faces? Why? How will you work toward a solution?

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Culture appreciation…or appropriation?

If you’re an avid user of social media, you’ve probably seen this tweet pop around:

Yet again, another post of a non-POC wearing ethnically significant clothing. However, while most would agree an action like non-black folk wearing dreads is not acceptable, this issue witnesses a split in Asian-Americans. There is both a large support for Keziah’s actions as cultural appreciation, but also fervent opposition that deems the dress as cultural appropriation.

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Is Violence Justified?

** note: this was a speech I gave at a debate event so there may be some awkward writing **

When reflecting on the civil rights movement, modern society often praises the non-violent actions of Martin Luther King and fails to do justice on civil rights leaders with different methodologies. America has become obsessed with the notion that movements must be achieved peacefully, through words and not actions, through assimilation and not individuality. Consequently, Malcolm X is often overlooked as an uncivilized radical. And thus, the we must consider if Malcolm X’s violent approach to civil rights was appropriate at the time. The way we must approach the resolution is first to define what “violent” is, how and why Malcolm X advocated for this approach, and finally if it was justified for the time period.

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The Danger of the Model Minority

A teacher of mine this year once said that each generation battles different social issues, and the prime issues that “Generation Z” faces are immigration policy, and equality for black folks. “Don’t worry,” he immediately addressed our largely-Asian class when he finished. “The day for Asian-American representation will eventually come.”

While I have no doubts that the two issues mentioned above are the most attention-worthy in the status quo, I (as someone very interested in Asian-American identity theory) did quite some thinking about how the model minority myth perpetuates these two issues. It was actually one day when an Asian-American friend of mine approached me and asked “what exactly is so bad about the model minority stereotype?” and I ranted for twenty minutes, that I realized how many underlying dangers the myth perpetrates.

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Why I Didn’t Attend the Women’s March

Unless you’re living on a rock, or perhaps that rock is the burden of midterm exams (which is a more minor reason why I didn’t attend), you probably know what happened a few weekends ago.

I saw the several posts on Instagram, and I’m sure you did too — high school teenagers carrying signs that say “GIRLS JUST  WANT TO HAVE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTSdressed in all pink with an intense expression plastered on their face. Or perhaps…I am describing you?
And isn’t it odd, as a social justice advocate, that I did not attend the march?

Here’s the caustic truth: it absolutely is not.

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Respectability Politics: yes or no?

On the dreary morning of January 19th, several hundred high school students crowded on the gym bleachers for a break from their hectic schedules–to listen to the annual assembly in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. At first, some students took care of their streaks, gossiped about who broke up and who got together, or complained about the upcoming finals week, blanketing the audience in a light hum of chatter.

However, as soon as the sound of the microphone turning out rang throughout the room, the voices lowered to a hush whisper, and then gradually disappeared altogether. Everyone’s ears were perked up, listening intently as the guest speaker made her statement. As almost everyone was nodding along to the speech about bringing change through forgiveness, peace, and respect, I shot a glance at my friend and raised my eyebrows. Yikes, our expressions practically screamed.

Our conversation afterword went something along the lines of this:
“How do you think the assembly was?”
“Um, it was alright. But I liked last years spoken poetry better. It was more radical, you know?”
“Yeah, I get what you’re saying. This year’s guest speaker was qualified and all that, but I didn’t really feel anything.”
“And she was lowkey promoting respectability politics.”
“Lowkey? More like highkey.”

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The Settler Futurity

In the plight of xenophobia, racism, and populism that has made an aggressive comeback just when we were on the track of improvement ever since our dear POTUS entered the office, or any other nation where politics seems like a blood bath, sometimes we are so focused on current struggles that we forget a marginalization that has been occurring for centuries.

Although not every country can tangibly relate to anti-blackness, war on drugs, or child labor, there are two related system that have infected every corner of the earth: colonialism and imperialism; the conflict between the “savage” and the “civilized.” Yes, every continent, with perhaps the exception of Antarctica, has experienced these seemingly foreign concepts (shocker: it’s not always the Caucasian that is the “civilized”).

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Children are Made for Schools

Note: Although I may sound subjective, I am merely writing about an issue/theory, and I will not confirm any personal beliefs. 

There’s a hidden force with cold and brutal hands that suffocate us, and the danger is that we hardly notice it – corporations are literally investing in students in public schools in order to receive a financial gain. They increase competition and create an award system that determines a student’s value by their potential to earn money, to be a benefit to the economy. These students are given the best privileges, whereas those who are unproductive are bound for the school to prison pipeline that contains all the “failures” of society. But the key is that at birth, their class and race already determine their status in life.

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