"An apolitical cultural community is a pernicious lie"

The College Fix reports that Harvard Asian Americans have been criticised by an open letter for not joining a pro-DACA walkout.

Hundreds of Harvard students denounced Asian American groups at the university for not joining Monday’s walkout in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Under the DACA program, children brought to America illegally will not be deported.

Titled ‘An Open Letter to the Asian American Community’, the letter was signed by almost 600 people.

Asian American Groups were reportedly contacted by walkout co-organizers Act on a Dream and the Asian American Womxn’s Association, but they did not respond.

Groups contacted included Asian American Association, Chinese Students Association, Harvard Korean Association, Taskforce for Asian and Pacific American Studies, South Asian Association, South Asian Women’s Collective, Harvard Vietnamese Association, Harvard Philippine Forum, Khmer Student Association, Asian American Brotherhood, and South Asian Men’s Collective.

“The majority of organizations contacted did not respond to AAWA’s co-sponsorship request, and the few that did delivered the disappointing news that there was not enough support for immigrant rights on their board,” the letter reads. ”

This is not without consequence. In doing so, you have outed yourselves as non-safe spaces for undocu+ people within the Asian American community.”

The 1,100 word letter calls out Asian American groups for failing to recognize that “the structural oppressions that YOU suffer from on a daily basis” are connected to “the SAME global structures of racism and dispossession that inflict violence on people of color across the world. In other words, standing up for immigrant rights represents the profound understanding that all our liberations are interconnected: your liberation is my liberation and vice versa.”

The letter goes on to state that an “apolitical” stance is unacceptable.

“An apolitical cultural community is a pernicious lie. It is literally impossible to live as a person of color on the stolen land that is the United States without either being political or being politically instrumentalized by oppressive structures. Therefore, the choice to disengage is indeed a political choice, and an extremely dangerous one at that.”

It goes on to state that disengaging with politics diminishes the work done by activists in the 1970s to erase the term “Oriental” from their identity.

“By foregoing political engagement and activism, you are doing a disservice to the title “Asian-American,” which west-coast college activists in the 1970’s coined as a way to decolonize our identity from “Oriental,” to discover a sense of deep connection in an ever-diversifying community, and to band together to combat global injustice.”

The letter ends by stating, “we end with a reminder of Esther Jeon (’18), whose Reflections speech called on all our organizations to recognize our responsibility to advocate for immigrant rights, and more broadly, advocate for and alongside each other. We hope that this letter can spark those meaningful changes.”

Harvard undergraduates make up the majority of the signatures of the letter.