Thursday, May 5, 2022
Cyra Akila Choudhury (Florida Int'l; Google Scholar) & Shruti Rana (Indiana-Maurer), Addressing Asian (In)Visibility in the Academy, 51 Sw. L. Rev. 287 (2022):
In this Essay, we first examine the dynamics of representation and how they impact and circumscribe the experiences, opportunities, and advancement of Asian American law faculty. We aim to draw attention to the real rather than perceived problems facing Asian American law faculty as well as Asian Americans in the legal profession more generally. We argue that while Asian Americans are, in fact, diverse in their identities and experiences, the predominant perception about them in the legal academy is that they are a monolithic group assimilated to the dominant culture and reflect various iterations of the “model minority myth.” This narrative not only obscures the complexity of the discrimination against Asian American law faculty but also allows the academy to blame individuals for their own marginalization, ignoring the systemic forces at work. Together, these factors elide and mischaracterize the challenges Asian American law faculty face and create obstacles to effective solutions—all with a high human cost.
Professor Deo’s book is an example of solidarity in action that we can all learn from. Throughout the book, we come across women faculty of all backgrounds with similar stories of silencing, marginalization, and erasure who are given a voice. While there are differences, the similarities that women of color face in the academy are far more important, but no one’s voice is amplified at the expense of another’s. In keeping with the spirit of Professor Deo’s work, we must be committed across differences to ethics of racial equality and justice and a redistribution of power to the marginalized and disempowered. For Asian Americans, the first hurdle, as demonstrated by the US News diversity ranking scandal, is to be authentically seen as racialized minorities that contribute to diversity. And the next is for all groups across the existing racial binary to understand that Asians are the most underrepresented in the legal academy and must be given proper attention in all diversity and inclusion efforts.