Asian American history makes history and sexual misconduct from pipeline workers

in June 11th, 2021

Here's what we emailed out the week of June 11, 2021. Sign up for updates directly in your inbox.

After an incredible career clearing over 1.5 million square feet of land for explosives, Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, is retiring. Magawa spent five years (more than half his lifespan) sniffing out landmines in Cambodia and even won a British charity’s top civilian award for animal bravery last year (typically given to dogs). As age slows him down, the nonprofit responsible for the land clearance is giving him a break. He’ll still live in the same cage, follow the same daily routine, and have access to the same resources such as playtime, exercise, health checks, and a fresh produce diet.


EDUCATION

Illinois becomes first state to mandate AAPI education in public schools

Tue Jun 1

Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, all Illinois public schools will be teaching a unit about the Asian American experience, including history specific to the community’s experience in Illinois and the Midwest. With nearly unanimous support across the House and Senate in Illinois, similar bills are now being considered in at least 10 other states. 

Though the legislation doesn’t dictate how the classes should be taught, some Asian American educators have existing curriculum that could serve as a model. Many of these teachers were inspired to create their courses after their own experiences in school where history was limited to early Chinese immigrants and Japanese internment camps during World War II — lessons that reinforce stereotypes of Asians as potential threats to the United States. Educators instead are aiming to include more on the history of Asian Americans fighting for civil rights, including the:

  • 1885 Supreme Court decision in California that desegregated schools for Chinese Americans
  • 1965 Filipino farmworker unionization, where Flipino American grape workers went on strike after years of protesting poor pay and working conditions
  • 1970s Yellow Power Movement, when it was taught that political representation led to economic power and encouraged voters to support candidates that represented their issues

Illinois was also among the first states to mandate instruction about the Holocaust. And while 10 other states are following in their footsteps once again with similar bills to expand on the diverse history of the country, just as many Republican-controlled states are doing the opposite. We reported last month on the new bill in Texas that bans educators from talking about racism, white supremacy, or current news events in the classroom. 

Some additional resources...


VIOLENCE

“Man camps” from pipeline projects are contributing to sexual violence

Fri Jun 4

After six years of review, construction began in December for the Line 3 pipeline project in northern Minnesota. One of the main causes for debate? The rise in sexual violence that past studies show historically follows when a large crew of workers (or as some call, “man camps”) come to Indigenous regions. So far in Minnesota, two pipeline workers have already been arrested for human trafficking while crisis centers have received more than 40 reports of pipeline workers harassing and assaulting women and girls. 

What puzzles crisis centers most? That they were prepared. Construction permits were approved on the condition that Enbridge (the Canadian company building the pipeline) allocated an escrow fund for crisis centers to respond to anticipated violence. Opponents to Line 3 saw this as Enbridge simply pre-paying for trafficking their citizens. While Enbridge touts a zero tolerance policy and has terminated any worker caught, many are concerned with the continued growth in violence — even towards daughters of local workers who have begun receiving sexually explicit texts asking if they like older men.

Neither the crisis center funding nor current law enforcement seems to be enough to curb the issue, most often leaving perpetrators unpunished. While the federal government is responsible for investigating crimes by non-Indigenous people towards Indigenous victims, jurisdictional confusion between parties involved (local police, FBI, and Indian Affairs departments) ultimately leads to dead-ends or takes so long that local enforcement is hesitant to even consider taking on new cases. 

Some additional resources... 


FROM THE ARCHIVES

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ASCII OF THE WEEK
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What do you plan to do now that you’re retired?

Eat, sleep, and become a gym rat.

Art Credit: Irene Klein and Andreas Schamanek

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