I’m not your model minority. In fact, I spent much of my life contemplating whether I’m actually a minority at all. In the United States, racial socialization runs along a Black/White spectrum, where until recently, Asian American, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) communities existed outside of mainstream racial dialogue. If I may elaborate. As a society, people move through in different ways, and it is only when you come across barriers or lack the privilege afforded to others based on race, that you experience oppression and injustice firsthand. Asian Americans occupy a contentious, invisible space in which race is operationalized as simultaneously a privilege and a form of discrimination. As Cathy Park Hong wrote in Minor Feelings, “Asians lack presence. Asians take up apologetic space. We don’t even have enough presence to be considered real minorities. We’re not racial enough to be token. We’re so post-racial we’re silicon.”
This article is a personal reflection of the 2020 Washington Week Day on the Hill virtual conference and congressional visits by Holmes Scholar Eleanor Su-Keene.
When I attended the AACTE Annual Meeting in February of this year, I did not know that would be the last time I flew on a plane or attended any large gathering for the foreseeable future. Needless to say, the past seven months have been a surreal experience. As I try to navigate life as a mother of two young children, a homeschool teacher, and a doctoral student, I find myself not only working from home, but working with home. As such, I came to the computer skeptical of an experience that lived up to that which my fellow Holmes Scholars experienced in pre-COVID years.
As educators, we know how incredibly important it is to be cognizant of both the lesson at hand and what exactly students will be doing during that lesson. In this respect, it should come as no surprise that the conference was extremely well planned and thoroughly thought out from beginning to end. The 2020 AACTE Washington Week Virtual Day on the Hill conference was incredibly well organized from the platform that was chosen to the ease of use from getting to and from the main “stage” to breakout sessions. As a Holmes Scholar, I had more intimate meetings with leading scholars and advocates in socially just educational reform, but I was surprised to find even in the main conference, it felt just as personal. The real time engagement of the speakers with the chat box function allowed for an exchange that would be impossible during an in-person format.