Workshop eyes Asians’ plight

By Linda Luk

Asian students gathered Thursday as speaker Daren Mooko led a workshop on activism on and off campus and later encouraged his audience to dispel Asian stereotypes.

During the workshop, Mooko, director of the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., showed the relationships between the civil rights movements of blacks, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.

He examined the history of activism since the 1960s, when mostly black Americans were seeking civil rights. But other movements also were active, he said, from the causes of migrant workers to those of American Indians.

“In the 1960s, activism was organized around race politics,” Mooko said. “Today, activism should be about developing coalitions — supporting agenda politics instead of race politics.”

The workshop, sponsored by the Asian America Association, the Presidential Task Force on Asian Americans and Unity in Diversity, focused on student activism nationwide and the importance of strategizing.

Mooko said actions like taking over administration buildings should be student activists’ last resorts. Instead, students should act intelligently & doing research, identifying the cores of problems and discussing issues with other people, he said.

Workshop participants said they were inspired.

“The presentation demonstrated how other campuses in the U.S. share the same problems,” said Gema Gaeta Tapia, a junior history major. “It also shows how unity among the community can accomplish so much. I came because I think it’s one step to bring unity and support among the community, and this is my way of showing support.”

Mooko ended the workshop with a quote from Yuri Kochiyamam, a civil rights activist:

“Do what students do best: study, read, research, investigate, search for truths. Share all the treasure of your learning: truth, humane values, ethics, morality, principles, the meaning of love, justice, dignity … It doesn’t matter what your major, minor, profession or avocation is. You can make a little ripple that will grow; and who knows where that ripple will move other lives.

“Because you are young and have dreams and want to do something meaningful, that in itself makes you our future and our hope,” Mooko said. “Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind and cross borders.”

Later in the evening, Mooko presented the history, origin and impact of “The Model Minority Myth.” In the early 1900s, Asians were portrayed as child-like savages, he said, and laws discriminated against Asians by denying them jobs and citizenship.

Two generations later, in 1966, after a New York Times article shared the success stories of Japanese Americans and labeled them “the model minority,” media hype reinforced the idea.

“Today, Asians face the yellow and the model minority myth, both at the same time,” Mooko said. “They believe Asians are the model minority and the ideal American, and at the same time believe that we are the greatest threat to national security.”