Emil Guillermo: The striker who became the teacher—Podcast with Asian American Studies professor Daniel P. Gonzales on how ethnic studies was birthed at SF State University
Over the Easter weekend, Donald Trump was resurrecting his anti-immigrant rhetoric in tweets and off-handed comments. First, he blasted California for issuing pardons to a group that included three Asian Americans subject to deportation. Then he tweeted he’s changed his mind on DACA and that he would end NAFTA to force Mexico to pay for his fantasy wall. He topped it off with a comment how people were crossing the border to become eligible for DACA.
Mr. President, DACA is for young arrivals who came years ago. He’d know that if he didn’t revise history with every utterance or tweet.
Enter the scholars and historians of ethnic studies. They know all that what we’re seeing from Trump is nothing new. There’s a pattern in history from the way Chinese were excluded, to the rescission politics regarding Filipino colonization and military service. Trump’s DACA stance is fairly typical.
But Dan Gonzales, doesn’t think ethnic studies scholars are as tuned in politically as they should be.
Gonzales was one of the coalition of students that included Blacks, Latinos, and Asians in 1968 at San Francisco State. One of the demands of that strike—said to the longest student strike in the nation’s history—was the formation of a college of ethnic studies.
Gonzales never left and became a fully tenured professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. He was a speaker at the Association of Asian American Studies held in San Francisco this past weekend, and urged the scholars to be more connected to what’s happening in today’s politics.
“We need to have our faculty invested in the political nature of ethnic studies and they have to include it within their own teaching practice references to political process,” Gonzales told me on our podcast, Emil Amok’s Takeout. “They have to understand the politics of the campus and be able to guard against well in advance issues that could be an existential threat to the cause of ethnic studies or any of its member departments.”
And how do professors do that today?
“Be skilled enough to be able to organize well and form alliances with other colleagues on campus,” Gonzales told me. “Because that’s the only way you get anything done. And that’s the best way to protect your own best interests is to form good strong alliances based on principal. That’s what we need.”
Spoken like a strike veteran who helped lay the strong foundation for a college of ethnic studies--not just a department, not just for a program, or a few classes--but a whole school at SFSU, 50 years ago.
See more at AALDEF.org/blog
Emil Guillermo: California Legislator David Chiu on the most Asian American state being sued by the Feds; calls Trump “the most xenophobic and racist president in modern history.”
Stormy Daniels, Kim Jong Un, and trade-war inducing tariffs? The Trump administration is a never-ending three-ring circus, where chaos is Trump’s best friend. How can the American public get a grip on any of the really big issues like gun control after Parkland, or the on-going Russian investigations, when our heads keep spinning daily?
For Asian Americans, the lesson during this ADHD presidency is to stay focused on our key issues, which for the moment remain immigration and DACA.
This past week, Mr. Art of the Deal didn’t even bother to push Congress on DACA and the Dreamers, letting his self-imposed March 5 drop-dead date pass. Without the votes in Congress, it was the only thing Trump could do. That and blame Democrats.
For now, the courts have also blocked the administration from ending DACA, and for the time being, the program lives on. Those who are eligible can still apply and even extend their protection.
But just so Trump isn’t seen as a total loser to his base, the lull in the immigration fight has given Trump’s beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions a chance to score some brownie points with his boss.
Sessions showed up in Sacramento this week to file a lawsuit against the state over its sanctuary policies. The feds are particularly targeting three state laws that protect immigrant families and workers. California State Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco wrote one of the three laws, and told me the state is ready to defend them against the feds.
“Trump is engaged in an un-American war,” said Chiu in a phone interview Friday, indicating the state is prepared to battle in court.
Chiu said the laws were carefully crafted to honor federal law but also to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of immigrants in the state from ICE agents raiding workplaces without proper authority.
Chiu also clarified what “sanctuary” is a d isn’t.
He said that Trump wants to deputize local law enforcement to be ICE agents. On the surface it sounds like a good idea. But immigration isn’t the job of your local cop. Chiu said Trump’s plan would only raise distrust among immigrants, who consequently won’t report crimes for fear of deportation.
Chiu said that’s already happening in the Los Angeles area.
Chiu said that if the feds are able to get away with heavy-handed enforcement activities that trample on the rights of people in California, then ICE will make the tactics standard throughout the nation.
Chiu said in that sense, the fight in California is really a national one for the rights of immigrants.
As for his advice to those in the community who are in fear of more ICE raids like the recent ones that netted more than 245 people, Chiu was unwavering.
“We have your back,” he said. But he added that people need to know their rights if and when ICE shows up.
Listen to my phone call with David Chiu on this special edition of Emil Amok’s Takeout.
See more at http://www.aaldef.org/blog