Category Archives: activism

Anti-Asian Violence During the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Tiffany Hsia

[4 minute read]

Editor’s Note

The Covid-19 crisis has brought forth a multitude of social and economic impacts which no one could have foreseen. One of these impacts has been an increased rate of violence towards the Asian-American community. In light of the recent Atlanta spa shootings, wherein six Asian women were shot by a white man, the violence resulting from anti-Asian hate speech has surfaced in a particularly harmful way. If you are interested in looking into more resources that can help educate you on this systemic issue, there are many readily available online. One that I found to be particularly helpful was this article from Learning for Justice entitled How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism. This is a helpful guide for any non-native English speaker who is unsure of how to effectively speak up in a potentially racist or xenophobic situation. Below, ALI Conversation Partner Tiffany Hsia has written on her experience with anti-Asian sentiments and what we can all do to combat this problem.

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

Growing up as a first-generation Asian American in the Bay Area of California was not easy. My parents immigrated from Taiwan in the 90s, and English is not their first language. I saw how they had to struggle with the language barrier when I was young, and when I first started to attend elementary school, I was made fun of for pronouncing certain words differently. I had learned my pronunciation from my parents who had an accent on certain words, so I didn’t understand what was different when I was younger. As I grew older, I started to notice more and more differences. A particularly notable difference I saw as a child was that no one I saw on TV was Asian-American. While it may seem small, millions of people look up to celebrities as role models, and to see so few Asian Americans represented in Hollywood was disheartening. Asians are considered to be a minority in the United States; however, they are seen as “white adjacent”. Asian Americans are perceived as successful, and people do not see them as oppressed compared to other minorities such as African Americans or Hispanics. However, Asian Americans are still at a disadvantage in many areas and underrepresentation in media is just one example of that.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Similarly, during this pandemic, there has been a recent increase in violence towards Asian Americans. Many think this is a direct result of former President Trump making statements about the Asian community, such as calling coronavirus the “ China virus”. This only provoked more harassment towards Asian Americans resulting in widespread outrage. In Chinatown in Oakland, California, a 91-year-old man was pushed facedown into a cement sidewalk during an unprovoked attack. As a result, many elderly Asian Americans living in the Bay Area are afraid to leave their houses. These attacks have recently gathered media attention, as more people in the US are becoming aware of the systemic racism and social inequality occurring in light of the pandemic.

As someone who is Asian American, I am appalled at the state of our country. The United States is known to be a safe haven to many people and is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Violence against others should never be tolerated. While change is difficult, more people need to be aware that the US is built on systemic racism. Although it may be difficult to change the foundations that built the US, I believe that with education and awareness, small changes can be made to eventually overcome the disadvantages minorities face.

Continue reading Anti-Asian Violence During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Learning About Homelessness in LA

 By Jason Her

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As a social work student living in Los Angeles, I often wondered about the homeless crisis shown on the news and the actions being taken to assist this population. This made me question many things about the situation, and I wondered how it had gotten this bad. Coincidentally, this led me to an internship working with the homeless population, an opportunity that was unexpected, but that allowed me to gain a better understanding of the crisis we are facing. 

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Although there are many reasons why one may experience homelessness, contributing factors are state and federal policies. An example is the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in 1967 which led the state government to deinstitutionalize mentally ill patients. California was one of the first states to do so. Some may argue this was a good thing, but as a result, victimization, homelessness, and increased rates of incarceration occurred. This was followed by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA, which President Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1987). It decreased federal funding to the states and gave patients the choice to seek treatment outside of a mental institution, have the option to seek treatments at clinics at the state level, and have the freedom to administer their own medication. An ethical move in the eyes of the federal government, but as we know, the mentally ill are amongst the most vulnerable populations in society because most cannot make sound decisions. As a consequence of these policies, mental illness has become prevalent in the homeless population, making it a difficult problem to tackle.

Aside from these policies, another factor that has contributed to the homeless crisis in Los Angeles is the destruction of single-room occupancy hotels in Skid Row. These single-room occupancies were the most affordable housing mostly used by transient, immigrant men who worked to build railroads around the mid-19th century. In the 20th century, men from the rest of the United States who headed west for employment would often end up on Skid Row, where they could find housing, food, or shelter of some kind. Over the years, it would house the city’s working poor, unemployed, disabled, and otherwise marginalized residents. But between 1950 and 2000, 15,000 residential hotel apartments that were once single-room-occupancy were destroyed, forcing thousands of people onto the city’s shelters and sidewalks.

Photo by Christian Gabele on Unsplash
Continue reading Learning About Homelessness in LA

The Importance of Local Politics: My experience in a USC Neighborhood Council

By Jose Sanchez

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula & Anahi Terrazas

[4 minute read]

Editor’s Note:

Throughout this month, cities across the United States have seen a change in leadership at, not only a national level but also at the local level as many counties and cities also held elections for local government positions. Local government is often responsible for parks, police and fire departments, public transportation, and housing services, playing a large role in shaping the life of community members and the maintenance of the city or county.

– Anahi Terrazas, Co-Editor

The Los Angeles Tenants Union seeks to advocate for the rights of all renters in the city of Los Angeles. At local chapter meetings, renters (or anyone who does not own their own home) voice their concerns and hardships and ask what can be done to remedy their situation. At every meeting, struggling families meet people who have had similar experiences and will almost always find answers to their most pressing questions.

Los Angeles neighborhood councils give ordinary citizens the chance to play a part in local government. As a board member of a neighborhood council, people can collaborate with fellow community members to take part in a variety of community-geared activities, such as working to fund events with the goal of increasing community civic engagement or even introducing ideas for legislative action at a city or state level. I am on two local councils in Los Angeles, and they have given me great insight into the everyday problems that people experience within my community.

Photo by Ioana Cristiana on Unsplash

I am on the board of the Rampart Village Neighborhood Council as a student representative, and I am a contributing member of the Los Angeles Tenants Union’s Beverly and Vermont branch. I joined both of these councils to learn more about the unique difficulties experienced by members of my community and also to identify different ways that I could help my community.

The most pressing issue on most people’s minds is almost always homelessness. In fact, this topic is often brought up by international students during conversation groups. They tell me how surprised, concerned, and even shocked they are to see the prevalence of homelessness in LA.

Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
Continue reading The Importance of Local Politics: My experience in a USC Neighborhood Council