Asian Americans and the Racial State unit plan


People/Community Organizations:

  • Dr. Robert G. Lee
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  • Dr. Juliana Hu Pegues
  • Kat Chow
  • Coalition for a Diverse Harvard
  • Aaron Mak
  • Hasan Minhaj
  • Hua Hsu
  • Grace W. Tsuang
  • Vichet Chhuon
  • Providence Youth Student Movement
  • Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit
  • Students in my “Asian American and the Racial State” class who shared their experiences in class that ultimately helped me understand my role as a non-Asian learning and teaching this history

  • Moon-ho Jung, Coolies and Cane, Race, Labor and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation (2006)
  • Beth Lew-Williams, The Chinese Must Go, Violence, Exclusion and the Making of the Alien in America (2018)
  • Greg Robinson, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (2009)
  • Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects, Illegal Aliens and the Making of America (2004)
  • Yen Espiritu, Body Counts, The Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es) (2014)
  • Eric Tang, Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto (2015)
  • Juniad Rana, Terrifying Muslims, Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora (2011)
  • Sunaina Maira, The 9/11 Generation, Youth, Rights and Solidarity in the War on Terror (2016)


Stage One: Desired Results


Professional Standards:

*fill in the blank as necessary*


Essential Questions:

  1. What is racialization?
  2. How are Asian Americans situated within the United States to uphold the status quo?
  3. How have myths and misconceptions of Affirmative Action impacted Asian American communities?

  • Understandings to answer Question 1
    • Understand that race is a social construction like pan-ethnic/racial identities (ex: Asian and Latinx)
    • Understand the role of exclusion in the racialization process
    • Understand the role of immigration in the racialization process
    • Understand how communities that are excluded and racialized are treated by white terrorism
  • Understandings to answer Question 2
    • Understand that the model minority was socially constructed by the U.S.
      • Understand that even within this construction there are people excluded from it
    • Understand the pressure US had to show that they were a democratic nation while the civil rights movement was occurring
      • Understand the role of democracy as a divide and conquer tool
    • Understand how the US benefited from racial triangulation in order to uphold their image and to dismantle solidarity efforts between racialized communities
    • Understand the myth of meritocracy
      • Regardless of the myth of meritocracy, number 1 way that people become wealthy is through inheritance, (statistically proven)
  • Understandings to answer Question 3
    • Understand what is affirmative action and its importance in creating and upholding racial equity in US society
    • Understand the role that anti-Blackness plays in society and racialization.
    • Understand the relationship of anti-Blackness and the model minority myth
    • Understand the role Asian Americans played and some continue to play in the fight for affirmative action


Student Knowledge: Students will know…

  • Student Knowledge for Question 1
    1. Key Terms:  Differences between Riot v. Civil Unrest/Disobedience; immigration (cheap labor); race/ethnicity as a social construction; Asian; white terror; terrorism; transcontinental railroad; Japanese Forced Removal
    2. Immigration: Need to know why people migrate and how immigration disrupted the white v. Black racial imaginary in the US; Know how the US responds to immigration when they need cheap labor vs. when these immigrants decide to settle; Chinese Exclusion Act 1882; xenophobia
    3. Court Case: Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) -> one drop rule
    4. They will know how Asians (specifically Filipinos and Chinese immigrants) were excluded pre-WW2
  • Student Knowledge for Question 2
    1. Key Terms: War; Genocide; Model Minority (myth); Meritocracy (myth); U.S. democracy; racial triangulation; Cold War (ideology-based: communism v. democracy); riot v civil disobedience/unrest;
    2. Movement: Civil Rights Movement 1950s-1960s (fight for racial equality in midst of Cold War); Watts Rebellion 1965
    3. Immigration: Cambodian refugees; Immigration Act of 1965; recruitment of middle-high-income Chinese (skilled labor)
    4. Cambodian Genocide: Khmer Rouge, Vietnam War; Pol Pot; Eisenhower; ghettos; refugee v. immigrant
  • Student Knowledge for Question 3
    1. Key Terms: ESL, Affirmative Action, Elitism, Solidarity, Allyship
    2. Court Case/Legal Stuff: Harvard Lawsuit right now; Lau v. Nichols; Executive Order 10925
    3. Organizations: Coalition for a Diverse Harvard, Chinese for Affirmative Action
    4. People: Edward Blum, Abigail Fisher, Kinney Kinmon Lau, Alan H. Nichols, Michael Wang
Student Skills: Students will be able to…

  • Student Skills for Question 1
      1. SWBAT recognize their own preconceived notions of Asians and the term Asian.
      2. SWBAT to understand what the white v. Black racial imaginary in the US is by analyzing the Dred Scott case.
      3. SWBAT summarize how Chinese immigration to build the transcontinental railroad changed the white v. Black racial imaginary in the US.
      4. SWBAT explain how Asians were excluded in the US before WW2 by comparing and contrasting the Tacoma Riots (1885) and the Watsonville Riots (1930).
      5. SWBAT argue how the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 ignited more anti-Chinese/immigrant rhetoric in the US.
      6. SWBAT argue whether it is acceptable during times of war for the US to displace marginalized communities through the case study of Japanese Forced Removal during WW2.
      7. SWBAT analyze why Asians were excluded and the role it played in constructing the Asian identity in US society.
  • Student Skills for Question 2
      1. SWBAT describe what racial triangulation is and predict how this would affect Asian and Black communities in the US.
      2. SWBAT understand the key differences between communism and democracy during the Cold War.
      3. SWBAT analyze the Civil Rights Movement and argue whether the Civil Rights Movement undermined the image of the US as a democratic nation during the Cold War.
      4. SWBAT recall white terror/riot behavior from earlier and compare it with Civil Rights Movement as an example of civil disobedience.
      5. SWBAT understand how Asians became the model minority and explain why this was essential for the US during the Cold War by analyzing the Immigration Act of 1965 and the Watts Rebellion.
      6. SWBAT explain the role of merit in the creation of the model minority myth.
      7. SWBAT discuss how the US was able to spread the model minority myth while also excluding certain Asians from that myth through the Cambodian case study.
  • Student Skills for Question 3
    1. SWBAT understand what Affirmative Action is by analyzing Executive Order 10925.
    2. SWBAT defend Chinese for Affirmative Action in their class action lawsuit against San Francisco School District through analyzing Lau v. Nichols court case.
    3. SWBAT analyze college admission processes by determining what qualities are not being assessed/considered in Harvard’s and University of Texas’s holistic review process and application materials required to apply to these universities.
    4. SWBAT create their own conclusions on why Abigail Fisher sued University of Texas by analyzing the court case and spoken word poem Dear Abby.
    5. SWBAT analyze why Michael Wang is suing Harvard and argue whether he is being used by Edward Blum.
    6. SWBAT evaluate the Harvard Lawsuit brought by Michael Wang and determine who is left out of the Asian community he says he’s advocating for.
    7. SWBAT compare and contrast the effects of Lau v. Nichols and Current Harvard Lawsuit.
    8. SWBAT create an alternative route that Michael Wang could follow instead of suing Harvard that still brings awareness of anti-Asian discrimination in college.


Stage Two: Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks: What summative assessment tasks will student create?

Summative Assessment:Students will create a new TIME’s Magazine cover about Affirmative Action and how it has affected/affects Asian Americans that includes a title, subtitle, quote, and caption. Alongside the cover, students will write a 1-2 page article explaining their TIMES cover and fully answering the question “How has Affirmative Action affected/affects Asian Americans?” using at least three key terms used in the unit, an event covered in the unit, and a court case covered in the unit.