"The principle of justice is just a theory. It’s very beautiful. So we try to get close to it ... All those years, I was fighting for equality and justice, but I never got there. I still want to get close to it."

- Philip Vera Cruz, co-founder of Agricultural Worker Organizing Committee, 1992

We Move Together

The Asian American and Asian Studies department (ASAM) works to move the college closer to equity and justice in the campus work that we do. We do this by practicing mutual accountability. We hold ourselves to our highest principles of community empowerment and community-building. And we hold our colleagues to this standard. We move together, to bring the campus closer to the kind of place where care, dignity, and value are felt and experienced by all students and all members of the college community.

Behind Diversity and Inclusion

ASAM champions diversity because there is racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and nativism. 

There is racism because there is white supremacy. There is sexism because there is heteropatriarchy. There is classism because there is economic exploitation. There is homophobia because there is heteronormativity. And there is nativism because there is white nationalism and anti-Indigeneity.

"Empower all students to attain their educational goals, develop an equity-based mindset and become civic leaders in their communities"

- De Anza Vision Statement

ASAM pushes for inclusion because there is exclusion of groups based on these forms subordination. The rhetoric of diversity and inclusion are ineffectual if we do not also work to actively and knowingly undo institutionalized modes of exclusion. The language of diversity and inclusion, at its most powerful, is meant to direct attention to these specific structures and practices of exclusion. If we talk about diversity and inclusion but are unprepared to address racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and nativism, then we have gutted the politics of justice from the language of equity.

Interconnected Racisms

ASAM asserts that anti-racist work must recognize the interconnected racisms among communities of color at De Anza and beyond. We cannot undo the racism that one group faces if we do not undo the racism that another group faces. The American racial order is built upon the creation of differentially racialized minority groups in relation to whiteness. Our racialized experiences are all interlocked.

A few examples from history are instructive here.

Example:  The Reconstruction Era

During Reconstruction, white plantation owners in the South imported Chinese sharecroppers with the intention of replacing Black farm laborers. The respective racial positions of the two groups--the Chinese and Blacks--were mutually dependent, though subject to change. For both Chinese and Blacks, whiteness and anti-Blackness underpinned the social order in which the two groups were racialized. The two groups struggled for greater freedom in relation to each other and within that racial order. (See Loewen for more.)

Example:  Agricultural Labor

During the early mid-20th century, white growers in the American West became increasingly interested in Mexicans as a new source of farm laborers. Before this time, the major group of non-white immigrant agricultural workers were Asian Americans: Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Asian Indians, and Filipinos. From the late 1880s through WWII, each of these Asian American groups were one-by-one prohibited from immigrating to the U.S. and from naturalization as citizens. They were deemed racially unassimilable to the American national body, giving rise to the status of some groups as "aliens ineligible for citizenship." The "illegal immigrant" characterizations of today trace their roots to the racialization of non-white immigrants and anti-immigrant nativism of the anti-Asian exclusion era. (More historical details here.) 

Example: Teacher Expectations Today

Research has shown that, under certain circumstances, Black students face stereotype threat in the classroom. Research has shown that some groups of Asian American students face stereotype lift in the classroom. Research has shown that both kinds of stereotype harm students, though in different ways.

Research has also shown the complexity and interrelatedness of teacher expectations of Black, Asian American, non-white Latino, white Latino, and white students.

Addressing racial equity gaps in student achievement and countering stereotypes in the classroom therefore require a framework that centers the interconnected educational experiences of differentially racialized groups. Such a framework needs also to highlight how the institution of schools subject students to these racializing experiences.

Institutional Advocacy

ASAM advocates to expand and strengthen the institutional capacity of De Anza College to recognize and respond to the particularities of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students and other AAPI groups of the college. We go about this work with mindful attention to the multiethnic and multiracial community that is De Anza.

ASAM does this work in partnership with campus allies, such as the Asian Pacific American Staff Association (APASA). Below are our recent advocacy actions.

"A critical mass of AAPI faculty and institutional leaders is essential to advocate and provide leadership for and about AAPI students. Unfortunately, they are too few in number and not at the decision-making tables of most institutions."

- National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, 2008




5/18/2020 A group of ASAM and APASA members met to discuss the lack of familiarity and work experience with AAPI students/programs that the presidential finalists for De Anza demonstrated. A letter of concern was written and sent to Chancellor Judy Miner and all members of the Presidential Search Hiring Committee.
Letter of Concern
6/2/2020 A Statement of Solidarity with feedback from ASAM and APASA members was drafted. The official statement was presented by Christine Chai and Dawn Lee Tu at the Board of Trustees meeting on June 2, 2020.* Statement of Solidarity
6/3/2020 ASAM and APASA sent an official Welcome Letter to Dr. Lloyd Holmes, 4th President of De Anza, to welcome him to De Anza and to express our interest in meeting and working with him to advance AAPI interests. Welcome Letter 
8/6/2020 AAPI Working Group met with Dr. Holmes to follow-up on issues raised in Welcome Letter, to introduce ourselves, and to begin ongoing dialogue about AAPI needs and interests on campus. Dr. Holmes agreed to meet again. Who Are We?: The De Anza AAPI Community 
Since 5/2020 AAPI Working Group members joined the college's AANAPISI/HSI/SIP federal grants work group to prepare for the anticipated AANAPISI and SIP grant application requests, expected in January 2021. History of AANAPISI at De Anza
Since 8/2020 AAPI Working Group/APASA members have attended the Instructional Planning and Budget Team (IPBT) meetings.  
Since 9/2020

Two AAPI Working Group/APASA members joined the IPBT as voting members.

AAPI Working Group members joined the college's Federal Grants Core Team to participate in the preparation of the AANAPISI grant application. 


AAPI Working Group became the Advocacy sub-committee of APASA.


Advocacy sub-committee of APASA met with Dr. Holmes to continue exploring ways for the college to be attentive to the needs of AAPI campus communities.

Since 12/2020

Ongoing efforts by members of APASA's Advocacy sub-committee to guide and inform the college in supporting Asian American and Pacific Islander students, classified professionals, and faculty. These efforts have included: an educational video series, a panel discussion on the history of anti-Asian racism in the U.S., an Ethnic Studies multiracial panel series, counseling sessions addressing anti-Asian violence, hiring of a tenure-track counselor for IMPACT AAPI, and ongoing communication with senior staff.


 *Here are more De Anza Statements in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

 If you would like to participate in ASAM advocacy efforts or would like to share ideas, please contact Mae Lee at leemae@deanza.edu.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Students at De Anza

At De Anza, AAPI students are nearly 50% of the student body. The college uses the categories “Asian American” and “Pacific Islander” to include the following student self-identifications: Asian Indian, Asian/Other Asian, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Fijian, Filipino, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Nepalese, Other Pacific Islander, Pakistani, Samoan, Taiwanese, Tongan, Uighur, Vietnamese. The shorthand of "AAPI" includes this multiplicity of ethnicities.

De Anza Enrollment: Fall 2020

African American 3.7% 705
Asian 40.9% 7,723
Filipinx 6.7% 1,257
Latinx 27.0% 5,164
Native American 0.3% 60
Pacific Islander 0.8% 147
White 17.0% 3,282
Decline to state 3.0% 540

"When the “problem” and “solution” fall entirely on the individual student, systemic issues—such as what gets taught, how resources are allocated, and who gets left behind—become secondary."

- National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, 2008

De Anza's AAPI students are part of every facet of the college. AAPI students are veterans, students with disabilities, athletes, first-generation college-going, LGBTQ+, recipients of financial aid, work study students, English language learners, native English speakers, indigenous to the Americas, migrants, U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, first-generation immigrants, second-generation/U.S.-born, third-generation/U.S.-born, and fourth-generation/U.S.-born.

It is uncommon, however, for AAPI students, even at De Anza, to have coursework that shows Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as important, rather than absent, actors in society. It is rare for AAPI students to see themselves reflected in college leadership and to know that college priorities are set with the particularities of their circumstances in mind. And it is seldom that AAPI students hear the inclusion of AAPI communities in conversations about equity and justice on campus.

"As institutions of higher education continue to grapple with the meaning of campus diversity and face increasing demands to better serve increasingly heterogeneous student populations, there is a need to consider how AAPI students fit within that narrative and into larger campus priorities."

- ICOUNT: A data quality movement for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 

Racialization of Asian American and Pacific Islander Students

Across the country, Asian American college students face many popular characterizations that put them at-risk for institutional invisibility, neglect, and even disdain. They are frequently misconceived as “taking over,” “model students,” deviants to normative American studenthood (aka: "foreign" or "not well-rounded"), and/or “inauthentic minorities” who siphon resources away from minority groups thought to be more deserving. 

These reductionist and dismissive characterizations constrain the educational opportunities and experiences of Asian American students in the U.S. and at De Anza. First, they do so by overlooking the complexity of Asian American educational experiences, and therefore the particular needs of differently situated and disaggregated Asian American groups. Second, they treat Asian American students as the problem, instead of reflecting on institutionalized forms of exclusion and marginalization. Third, characterizations of Asian American students as not "real minorities" rely on the trap of a zero-sum mindset that overlooks how the racial subordination of one minority group historically interlocks with the subordination of another. The devaluing of any one minority group usually depends on the devaluing of another, albeit in different ways. Think: stereotypes of Black students as "academically deficient" work in tandem with stereotypes of Asian American students as "academically advantaged."

Further, the circumstances of Pacific Islander students deserve distinct attention. The shorthand nomenclature of "AAPI" can unknowingly subsume the groups to the detriment of Pacific Islanders.

Therefore, any attempt to broaden the college's capacity to serve AAPI students and campus communities requires an ongoing analysis of these kinds of complex racial politics, and the skills to navigate them with the interests of all AAPI students in mind. ASAM works to develop De Anza's efficacy to this end.

ASAM advocates to bring attention to the particular experiences and circumstances of AAPI students, faculty, and staff in order to facilitate institutional change for inclusion and equity at De Anza.

Learn More ...

About anti-oppression work:

  • "Race,"Junaid Rana, Keywords for Asian American Studies - an essay on the history of race as an epistemological category and social formation
  • "Identity," Jennifer Ho, Keywords for Asian American Studies - an essay on the genealogy of identity as a core and complex concept in Asian American Studies
  • "Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit" - a collection of trainings, organizational profiles, fact sheets, and FAQs published by racial justice groups and leaders
  • "What is Racial Domination?" Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Du Bois Review: 2009 - a primer on the analytic of race, the structure of racial domination, and five popular fallacies of race
  • "Challenging Patriarchy and Sexism," Resource Packet by Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance: June 2017.

About De Anza's work as an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution:

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