The Coalition for Critical Asian-American Studies was officially established in 2011 to form a group of students to address lack of an Asian-American minor. However, the inner working of it started in 1987 when the Asian Pacific Islander Student Alliance organization formed an Asian American Studies Committee for the sole purpose of creating the minor. For over thirty years, new waves of students have come in and out of the University demanding the bare minimum: an Asian-American minor. UC San Diego’s refusal to incorporate a minor to better serve the growing Asian-American community is part of a larger dismissive structure working against us.
Every time conversation of creating the minor comes up, the University has deferred every proposal made by students to the point of a waiting game. As this cycle continues, the spark to initiate the minor wavers and eventually, the movement dies. One of the main arguments the university continues to put into question is if Asians are the largest demographic on campus, then why do they need any more services? Well, that is precisely the point. If Asians and Asian-Americans make up over half of the population at UCSD, then why do we not have studies dedicated to the experiences and struggles of the Asian-American community?
This past Friday, CCAAS held a mixer to bring faculty, students, and the community together to engage in dialogue. The following people were asked the same question: Why did you decide to be involved in CCAAS?
UCSD alumnus and SPACES advisor Joseph Allen Ruanto-Ramirez said, “I was one of the advisors of it when originally conceptualized and wanted to make sure that Asian American Studies is offered to both empower & educate the Asian American population on campus.”
UCSD student and lead organizer of this year’s mixer Linh Anh Cook tells me that she is involved in CCAAS because she “hopes that one day, UCSD students can critically examine and learn the vocabulary and concepts needed to navigate, grow, heal, empower, and challenge everything they thought they knew or would know about this world and the way it works.”
Lastly, UCSD alumni and a core founder of CCAAS Irving Ling remembers his time to “recognize that despite the perception that API students at UCSD were “overrepresented,” they were in many ways underserved by the institution over the past decades.”
Asian-Americans just never receive the spotlight. Conversely, when we are represented, it is through stereotypes and faulty accents. Apu from “The Simpsons” is a prime example.
This is, however, only the beginning of demands from CCAAS. Asian-Americans are done being silenced. The next surge of Asian-American movers and shakers are among us. They are not Yuri Kochiyama or Larry Itliong; they are the Asian-American students sitting right next to you in your classes. They are ready for the spotlight.
Photo by Kyoka Matsunaga