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COVID-19: An Asian-American perspective

Dear fellow Tigers,

In a momentous speech delivered just six days after the devastating Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush unequivocally condemned prejudice against the Muslim American community and called for interreligious harmony. He rightly said, “Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America; they represent the worst of humankind.”

The raging COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the lives, health, and prosperity of our world, our university family, and our near and dear ones. It has infected millions of people, killed over 100,000 people around the world, including over 18,000 people in the United States alone as of April 10, and shows no signs of slowing down in the immediate future. This tragedy has also brought communities together to feed vulnerable families, care for seniors, and secure personal protective equipment and supplies for our emergency responders.

We stand in solidarity with everyone, not just those in our Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American (APIDA) community. This crisis has definitely brought out the best of humanity in many people, but sadly, we also continue to witness the worst in others.

The past few months have seen a massive rise in the number of racist attacks against the Asian community here in the United States due to coronavirus. The website “Stop AAPI Hate” has documented over 1,100 incidents of such racial attacks. Rather than unequivocally condemning those attacks, President Donald J. Trump initially fueled the flames of intolerance by tweeting, “The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries… that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus.”

We strongly condemn such toxic rhetoric and “dog whistle racism” of renaming the coronavirus after a racial group. While the President eventually denounced the racist attacks against Asians, it was too little, too late. His continued use of rhetoric against China without a distinction between the government and the people directly negates his purported denouncement of any attack.

While the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Andrew Yang should be commended for his untiring efforts to increase Asian representation and visibility and his service to the Asian American community, we also respectfully disagree with his opinion piece published in the Washington Post on April 1. Specifically, we denounce the notion that Asian Americans must “show our American-ness in ways we never have before.” Our community has faced many challenges assimilating into America because of vast differences of culture and languages, along with adverse stereotype-driven perceptions. Continued perpetuation of the idea that any group that comes to the United States must assimilate drives to the “othering” of already marginalized communities.

We, the Princeton University Asian American Students Association Executive Board (AASA E-Board), strongly believe that unity and community is necessary in this hour of crisis. As such, we cannot idly sit by and watch as racist attacks continue to threaten and divide our country. We call on President Trump and his administration to publicly denounce their past use of the term “Chinese Virus.” We also call on the surrounding community and the public to be more aware of how their actions can adversely impact people in marginalized communities. We would like to encourage our community members to contact us with further questions or concerns and to share their personal experiences during this crisis.

With love,

The AASA E-Board

Written and signed by: Kesavan Srivilliputhur ’23, Policy Advocate

Co-signed by:

Gina Kim ’22, Co-President

Henry Slater ’22, Co-President

Cheyenne Zhang ’22, Vice President

Bharvi Chavre ’23, Secretary

Qing Huang ’22, Treasurer

Michael Pi ’22, Social Chair

Eric Park ’23, Social Chair

Jennifer Lee ’23, Alumni Relations

Nelson Chow ’23, Service Advocate

Kate Lee ’23, Cultural Advocate

Sophia Zheng ’23, Cultural Advocate

Sim Chopra ’23, Design and Visibility Advocate

Welcome Class of 2021!

Click here for a letter written by AASA to the Class of 2021, featured in the Daily Princetonian!

Your Humor, My Pussy

Your Humor, My Pussy Part 1 (Annabelle Tseng ’19)

In high school, someone in the grade below me equated “Asian pussy” to “moldy sushi egg roll” in an effort to explain why Asian women were unattractive. Opening issue 15 of the Nass and seeing “Eating Asian pussy, all we need is sweet and sour sauce” printed in the Verbatim page was not so much a revelatory experience, but a tired re-encounter of the gross racial fetishization I already knew too well.

Your Humor, My Pussy Part 2 (Rebecca Ngu ’20)

I am not interested in detailing my, our, pain. I’m not interested in deconstructing why, when I was confronted by the words, “Eating Asian pussy, all you need is sweet and sour sauce,” I lost possession of my body, momentarily. Momentarily, because I then snapped back into reality, which is, of course, that those words don’t describe me. How absurd! My body, reduced into a sexual object to be consumed and thrown away like Chinese takeout? The verbatim, which I learned retroactively was a Kanye lyric, touches upon an all-too-familiar dehumanizing exotification of the Asian body, but it says nothing about me, nor any Asian girl I know. But it does say something damning about the culture from which it came.

‘Asian girls everywhere’ poster campaign breaks silence about sexual racialization

“Ni Hao pretty,” “you’re pretty for an Asian,” and “you’re the whitest Asian ever” are among the verbatim comments received by female Asian-American students in the University that will be displayed around campus later this week as a part of a poster campaign.

Letter to the Editor

To our fellow Princetonians,
Every week, the Nassau Weekly publishes “verbatims.” Normally, they’re just funny slice-of-life comments from students. Last weekend, however, one of the verbatim submissions was the sign-off on a fraternity email: “Eating Asian p****, all we need is sweet and sour sauce.”

Welcome to Princeton, Prof. Beth Lew Williams

Congratulations to Professor Beth Lew Williams on becoming Princeton’s second professor specializing in Asian American studies! She joins the History Department, with an affiliation with the Program in American Studies. She is the first Asian American studies historian to be hired by the university.

In Memoriam: Kelly Kuwayama ’40

Yeiichi “Kelly” Kuwayama ’40, the oldest Asian American alumnus of Princeton passed away on June 29. He was 96. Kelly arrived at Princeton way before it was diverse as it is today. He maintained his commitment to diversity at Princeton as a founding member of the Asian American Alumni Association of Princeton (A4P). Kelly was also a distinguished war hero as a member of the 442nd Japanese American infantry unit in WWII. He is to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in October.

Asian American Studies Fund Success

With $265,347 collected as of June 30, the Asian American Studies Fund easily surpassed its goal of $250,000! The money will be used to help fund research and programming in Asian American studies at Princeton.
The fund is still collecting donations. Donors should contact Jeanie Kim from the Development Office at jeaniek [at] princeton [dot] edu.