Asian-American Students and the Racial-Justice Movement

Writing for The Atlantic, Kevin Cheng has posed and has thoughtfully explored the question, “What Role Do Asian Americans Have in the Campus Protests?”

Here are the opening paragraphs:

“Last month, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber signed a document agreeing to take measures against racial inequality on campus, most notably the possibility of removing the name of Woodrow Wilson, a noted racist, from campus buildings. The agreement came after a 32-hour student sit-in in Eisgruber’s office by the Black Justice League, a group of activists at Princeton.

“When the agreement was made, I rushed to the president’s office to witness the student response. It had been 20 years since the last student sit-in in the university president’s office, when Asian and Latino American students protested the lack of minority faculty representation. Among the 100 or so Princeton students who demonstrated in solidarity with the Black Justice League as its members exited the president’s office, I observed many white and black faces. But I saw very few like mine.

“The relative absence of Asian Americans, who make up over a fifth of Princeton undergraduates, points toward the uncertain role that we have in today’s campus protests. Often stereotyped as “model minorities” by our professors, peers, and police, are we removed from—and do we possibly contribute to—the problems facing our black peers?

“The designation ‘Asian American’ itself is complex. While Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Americans often occupy positions of privilege in middle- and upper-class America, Asian Americans from countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia are among the most socially and economically disadvantaged in America. When talking about Princeton, I am referring to the former group, which makes up the majority of Asian American students on campus.

“Following the administration’s decision to at least consider the Black Justice League’s demands, Hunter Dong, a junior involved in the school’s undergraduate student government, posted a Facebook status that praised the actions of the group as a positive step in racial progress but questioned the inclusiveness of the demands. . . .”


The complete article is available at:



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