Lakshmi Sarah

Producer, Educator & Writer

How to Start Educating Yourself and Others on AAPI History

For KQED news.

Wei Ming Dariotis, who is now a professor in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, still remembers being a graduate student at UC Santa Barbara in 1992 — during the Los Angeles uprisings (what people also call the Rodney King Riots).

“Basically all of our Asian students were from L.A. and most of them were losing family businesses — they were on fire, literally,” she said.

“There was so much pain and anguish going on,” Dariotis said, for the Black, Latinx and Asian students impacted by the L.A. uprisings, “their communities were on fire.”’The answer to Asian violence is not more policing … The solution is education, conversation and also creating systems to protect everybody.’Wei Ming Dariotis, Asian American Studies, San Francisco State

Yet, during this time, Dariotis said the university didn’t do much to support its students or staff. There were no discussions of what was happening in Los Angeles in the classroom and no lessons that brought the history and economics of the current moment back into class discussions — a teachable moment was lost.

Dariotis said the university failed to provide any kind of counseling or grief services, and she remembers being one of few Asian people on campus at the time. It’s now nearly 30 years later — she’s now in a position to bridge the gap between what is happening in the world outside the classroom, and bringing history and racial justice into a broader educational framework for what is happening today.Sponsored

Just days after the March 16 Atlanta mass shootings that killed eight, including six Asian women, Dariotis, who is the faculty director of the SFSU Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning, channeled her energy into creating teaching resources to help illuminate the issues facing AAPI communities. She’s also inviting broader collaboration.

“I’ve had several meetings with my private cohort of friends from graduate school who are all in academic leadership positions at schools in the Bay Area. And one of them said, ‘These attacks don’t come from nowhere,’ ” Dariotis said. “They start with images and perspectives … something that we, as educators, can have a huge influence on.”

It’s now been over two weeks, and what she initially created as a shared Google document is publicly available for anyone to access and serves as a curriculum resource in an effort to ensure a better understanding of the experiences of Asians in the U.S. and of U.S. colonization, more broadly.

The recommendations from the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning includes a solidarity statement, resources on intersectional racism — a collection of toolkits on allyship, racial justice and domestic violence, BIPOC solidarity, white allyship as well as a history of anti-Asian racism, in addition to AAPI mental health resources.

As an educator and one of the founders of Critical Mixed Race Studies, Dariotis sees a clear need for examining inequities in all fields, even when it come to higher education. On a national scale, in academia, Asian American women make up a small percentage of faculty positions, and on SFSU campus, she said the faculty-to-student ratio for white faculty and students is 1 to 7, but it is 1 to 25 for Asian faculty, and 1 to 90 for Latinx faculty.

For Dariotis and many educators, the solution, in part, lies in education. “The answer to Asian violence is not more policing … The solution is education, conversation and also creating systems to protect everybody,” Dariotis said.


Teaching Resources from SFSU’s Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning

PBS has made the series “Asian Americans” temporarily free to stream.

SFSU campus-related racism may be reported to the Bias Incident Reporting Team.

Lakshmi Sarah teaches a class at SFSU in the journalism department. 


This entry was posted on April 4, 2021 by in Uncategorized and tagged .


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