What does it mean to be “Asian American”? Do “Asian” and “Asian American” mean the same thing? Is the term “Asian American” a paradox?
These questions reveal that the term “Asian American,” while seemingly simple and all-encompassing, often casts Asian Americans as a homogeneous group—rendering invisible the complexities behind the Asian American identity. This includes a broad range of challenges affecting Asian Americans of all ages and backgrounds: from workers’ and immigrant rights to racism, healthcare, LGBTQ issues, education, and more. Asian Americans have been present in the United States for four centuries, but much of their stories are underrepresented. Thus, the Alternative Spring Break Program will bring Asian American issues to light and inspect them with critical lenses.
In this Alternative Spring Break trip, we will analyze how social, political, and economic factors affect the formation of identities and use this framework to critically process and confront the messages we see about Asian Americans. First, we will explore the Asian American identity, the history of Asians in America, and the Asian American Movement. Then, we will use this knowledge to study a broad range of contemporary campaigns such as workers’ and immigrant rights, LGBTQ intersectionality, environmental justice, and educational and socioeconomic disparities. We will also explore how Asian Americans have organized together across cultures to build solidarity and fight for justice. By exploring this spectrum, we will examine our own commonalities with these issues, regardless of our ethnic or cultural background. We will also explore these topics through different media of activism: art, community organizing, health services, and more.