Daisy Maxion

Decolonizing University

Daisy Maxion Oral History Interview

Interviewer: Nicole Gonzales
Interviewee: Daisy Maxion
Location: ASI Office, CSU East Bay
Date: December 3rd, 2019

Summary

Daisy Maxion, former PASA (Pilipinx American Student Association) President and current ASI President, goes into depth about finding her identity through her culture and using her positionality to help others in different communities. Daisy first recalls her earliest memories of being a part of the Filipinx culture and how she actively got involved within her community. She remembers spending time with her Lola (“grandma” in Tagalog) and watching the Filipino television dramas with her, even though she didn’t understand the language and trying simple cultural foods with her family. Daisy started to actively get involved in the Filipinx community when she started college and was curious to see what PASA was about. Through this organization, she was able to learn more about her culture and found a sense of belonging.

Being a part of PASA has allowed Daisy to find a stronger sense of identity within her culture. She explains that when she was younger, she was not exposed to her culture due to the fact that Filipinx history was never represented or taught in textbooks. She used to be upset when her parents wouldn’t teach her the language, but later realized it was to protect her by teaching her English and putting her through westernized institutions so she will be able to navigate her way as a brown woman in America. Since Daisy was not able to find that sense of identity at home, she looked for it outward, and found a community that wanted to learn more about their culture and be active, just like she did.

Daisy also discusses the challenges she faces as a woman and a woman of color and how it affects her positionality in regards to the positions that she has held. She points out that the color of her skin is the first thing that people will see, not the amount of experience and leadership she holds. She explains that most people in charge on campus are predominantly White men and it is important for her to be “at the table” with these people because her positionality of being a woman of color can be a source of strength. She believes that once you gain a sense of self-identity and be firm in who you are and what you believe in, you will be able to navigate in places and opportunities that were not originally built for you.

Lastly, Daisy discusses how she participates in decolonizing our communities by interning for the Alameda County Complete Count Committee, which is focusing on census outreach for 2020. Having an accurate census helps communities get a certain amount of funds based on the needs of the people. Most communities that are filled with people of color, immigrants, youth and LGBTQ populations are the ones that need to be ensured they’re being counted for. Daisy feels that her role plays a part in decolonizing her community because she is able to educate and communicate the importance of the census. She also mentions her advocacy work for undocumented/DACA students at Cal State East Bay. She has been promoting the “Know Your Rights” events, which talk about the free pro bono legal services offered on campus.


Key Words

Decolonization – The undoing of colonialism, by establishing and taking back the domination of one’s territory, culture, etc.  

Diversity – The inclusion of different types of people (such as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. 

Ethnic Studies – The interdisciplinary study of different ethnicities and cultures, as expressed by civil society.

PCN (Pilipinx Consciousness Night) – A theatrical production promoting Pilipinx awareness and the different issues students and families face within society.

Diasporic culture – Refers to the involuntary mass dispersions of a population from its indigenous territories.

Cultural Knowledge – The understanding of cultural characteristics, history, values, beliefs, and behaviors of another ethnic or cultural group.

Neoliberalism – An ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition.  

Multicultural curriculum – The integration of ideals into a school’s courses of study that recognizes diversity and appreciate cultural differences.

Eurocentric – A worldview centered on or biased toward Western civilization.

Intersectionality – The interconnection of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.


Annotated Bibliography

Lee, Ellen. “Why Are Asian Americans Missing From Our Textbooks?”. Pacific Standard. 16 March 2017, https://psmag.com/news/why-are-asian-americans-missing-from-our-textbooks. Accessed 4 November 2019.

Ellen Lee speaks about her personal experience with learning about her Chinese heritage in textbooks. She recalls doing research on Chinese immigrants and asks the librarian to help her find information. Sadly, the only thing the librarian gave her was one page of a big book. She started to realize that K-12 textbooks do not speak much about Chinese Americans, or Asian Americans in general. Later on in college, she was able to learn more about Asian American history. Lee states that students of color tend to engage more and earn better grades when they see themselves in their studies. Unfortunately, schools still teach in a very eurocentric view and only glaze over topics of Asian injustice in the United States. A 2016 study on social studies books revealed that Asians get poorly represented the most. California passed a legislation bill that will provide ethnic studies classes to all highschools.

 

 

Anderson, Melinda D. “The Ongoing Battle Over Ethnic Studies”. The Atlantic. 7 March 2016, https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/the-ongoing-battle-over-ethnic-studies/472422/. Accessed 4 November 2019.

Teaching ethnic studies in schools will help lead and close the cultural gaps in curriculum. It is known that people have been fighting for ethnic studies to be implemented in schools. As early as the 1900’s, educator and historian W.E.B. Du Bois has been calling for teaching Black history in schools to change the stigma of black inferiority. Things like Freedom Schools and ethnic studies on college campuses have been created. Ethnic studies promotes diversity in the classroom and helps educate people on different cultures. Not only is it important for students of color, but white students can also benefit from it. For decades, students have been learning about very watered down history and never learn about topics such as oppression and colonization.

 

Constante, Agnes. “How Advocates Are Writing Asian American Stories Back Into History Books”. NBC News. 9 May 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/how-Advocates-are-writing-asian-american-stories-back-history-books-n1001561. Accessed 9 November 2019.

This article talks about how teachers are trying to implement more Asian-American history into their curriculum. This history is very unmentioned in textbooks despite the fact that Asian- Americans are the largest growing minority group in the United States. Julia Wang and Kathy Lu are hoping to share and educate people of Asian American history; which is something they didn’t learn about until they were in college.

Chatterjee, Piya, and Sunaina Maira, editors. Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent. University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Piya Chatterjee, Professor and Chair of the Department of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Scripp’s College, and Sunaina Maira, professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis, explains how students of color at colleges and universities are often silenced and being repressed for wanting to express their cultural knowledge and political opinions. In their book, Chatterjee and Maira allow scholars to write about their own experiences to further support their argument. Chatterjee and Maira’s contributors use straight-forward and journalistic language to explain their experiences and academic research to support their personal opinions. The book clearly illustrates Chatterjee and Maira’s points, and leaves the reader with a sense of awareness of what colleges and universities are doing to keep students of color silent.

Mbembe, Achille. “Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research.” Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research. Johannesburg, South Africa, http://www.staugustine.ac.za/sites/default/files/ctools/13. Mbembe – Decolonizing Knowledge… (2015).pdf.

Philosopher, political theorist and public intellectual, Achille Mbembe, explains how race plays a major factor in universities and colleges and how we can overcome these broad categorizations of students by “decolonizing” our knowledge of what we’ve come to learn at these universities. His lecture does not include many examples, but instead, focuses on calling to action and telling the readers what they should do to ensure a “pluriversity”. This lecture clearly illustrates Mbembe’s points and allows the reader to think deeper.

Thaman, Konai Helu. “Decolonizing Pacific Studies: Indigenous Perspectives, Knowledge, and Wisdom in Higher Education.” The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 15 no. 1, 2003, p. 1-17. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/cp.2003.0032.

Konai Helu Thaman, a poet and academic from Tonga, explains how Western philosophy, content, and pedagogy affects the lives and education of Pacific Islanders and their knowledge of their own history and Pacific studies as a whole. Along with teaching the readers about her culture throughout the article, she also includes her own poems to illustrate her points. Thaman uses a journalistic approach, using straight-forward language which makes it easy for the readers to understand. She uses logical arguments to support her ideas, which is her personal opinion. This article clearly supports Thaman’s arguments and leaves the reader with something to think about.

French, Sabine Elizabeth, Tran, Nellie, and Chávez, Noé Rubén. “Exploring the Effect of In-group and Out-group Race-related Stressors on Anxiety among Asian Pacific Islander American Students.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 43.S2 (2013): E339-350. Web.

In this cross-sectional study, they are looking at race-related stressors of in-groups and out-groups among Asian Pacific Islander Americans. One of the main issues they are concerned with is the effect in-group members have on others of the same group to conform to them.  They want to see what are some of the anxiety levels these students are facing in a school setting that is very diverse. They are looking at four categories that are race-related stressors including “experiences with prejudice and discrimination; (b) awareness of a devalued quality of one’s social identity in society” (French, Tran, Chavez 2013).  There were 209 participants of which 119 were women and 90 were men. This study showed that “99.0% of students reported perceiving discrimination, 89.0% reported feeling pressure to conform, and 93.3% reported stereotype confirmation concern” (French, Tran, Chavez 2013).  This can be useful for out topic because it shows that there are still Asian Pacific Islander students who feel discriminated against and this negative feelings can cause serious anxiety. We did a pre-interview with the person we are getting to know and one thing she said that stuck out was that she often found herself being the only woman of color in a room full of white men. I think this study can provide support to some of her experiences but we will know more once the formal interview has been conducted.

Wu, Yi-Chen. “Admission Considerations in Higher Education Among Asian Americans.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/asian-american/article-admission.

In the American Psychological Association, Yi-Chen is from the University of Georgia and is focusing on the myth of the “model minority”  and how certain political actions are making it harder for Asian students to access higher education. Yi-Chen brings up a point that despite the belief that all Asians are well off, there are certain groups that suffer from high dropout rates. Yi-Chen also talks about how Asian applicants must score better on their SATs compared to other ethnic groups. Some groups were even discouraged from checking their ethnicity from the box that describes their race/ethnicity. Yi-Chen writes that identifying oneself can have a negative impact on mental health. This relates to out topic because it has to do with the availability of higher education for Asian students. While it is quite broad, this article can be useful because it talks about how mental health can be affected from stress that comes with ones identity. This of course is a very complex issue.

 

Pimentel, Leilani Matasaua. “Investing in Pacific Islander Student Success.” Strada Education Network, 26 Aug. 2016, https://www.stradaeducation.org/pursuing-equity-and-opportunity-nationwide/investing-in-pacific-islander-student-success/.

The Strada Education Network is an organization that helps students not only with funds but also with career paths to obtain better opportunities. This was a very short article but it does have some useful statistics and information regarding Native Hawaiian and Pacific islanders. This organization is a non-profit that’s main objective is to provide funds for students. Here, Leilani Matasaua Pimentel, Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives, talks about the low level of degree attainment by Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. She also brought up a good point that during the 2010 Census, there were almost 20 different ethnicities reported  for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. This is significant because it shows the uniqueness of these groups and in order to provide equity for all, there has to be programs made specifically for certain people. I think this can helpful for our group because it can show that there are other ways to help Pacific Islanders receive a higher education and better life chances.

APEN Asian Pacific Environmental Network. “Our History.” Asian Pacific Environmental Network, apen4ej.org/our-history/.

I found this website that I thought was pretty cool. When looking over the website it talked about Asian Pacific islander history. It gave background information to how they become established here in the United States and how their community is still growing. It’s not only a source of history content, this committee is working hard to change their community. They are actively involved in giving back and making their streets betters. It is also a place where anyone can help get involved with.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Students and the Institutions that Serve Them. Teranishi, R. (2012). Asian American and Pacific Islander Students and the Institutions that Serve Them. Change, 44(2), 16–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/00091383.2012.655233

This article content is discussing the amount of schooling these minorities are getting and how it does not compared to whites. It shows the division of whites and Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders in success of schooling.It also discuss the different levels of education that the minotties are getting because of their environment and their circumstances at home or everyday lives prohibits them to succeed far into education.

Asian American Activism for Environmental Justice. Sze, J. (2004). Asian American activism for environmental justice. Peace Review, 16(2), 149–156. https://doi.org/10.1080/1040265042000237680

In this text it discussed multiple factors about the mistreatment of Asian American and Pacific Islanders. It discussed their environment they live in and the harm that it is causing them. The toxic waste they breathe can lead to many health factors, their workplace isn’t any better. They also discussed the similarities of Asian American and other minorities groups, what they have in common. There’s different organizations that has helped them but there’s still a lot of work to do. This articles main argument is environmental racism.

Shilliam, Robbie. “Racism, Identity Politics, and the Hidden Curriculum.” Decolonising the University. 2018: Article.

This source is an article published by Robbie Shilliam stating that universities should allow students to have more freedom in the actions they partake in which contributes to their freedom of speech and having the right to feel offended. He also mentions how criticizing the white curriculum and feeling offended about it is a sign of history censorship and leadership towards protecting traditional culture. In a University, Shilliam’s perspective focuses on how identity policing is doing more harm than good. He prefers a more free type of environment when it comes to contributing ideas towards politics. Cultural knowledge led to the protection of culture in the first place. Knowing how valuable culture is and how significant it is to certain groups of people make it very important to Shilliam and the society at the time. This source relates to universities and correlates with the same key word ideas we came up with, which makes it a really useful source.

Swain, Harriet. “Students Want Their Curriculums Decolonised? Are Universities Listening?” Rhodes Must Fall. 2019: Article. 

In this article, Harriet highlights a minister’s words, warning that Universities should pay attention to the phasing out of the curriculum that don’t get that much reputation or recognition. Harriet also mentions how students go beyond just supporting peers but also contributing towards the institutional campaigns like “Rhodes Must Fall” and “Why is My Curriculum White” which all highlight a challenge that requires them to objectify their traditional assumptions that Universities can be genuinely inclusive. The article also mentions how traditional biases limit learning abilities and the right to teach, as well as contribute more inclusive programs to the University. Students are treated like a minority, therefore leading students wanting to decolonize and rearrange certain rules and programs. This source is useful because it explains briefly how students are being oppressed and highlights the ignorance of the University towards the students. Harriet goes deep into how students can fix this problem and what the University might have to do about changing policies. Students are really hoping that institutions listen to them this time.

Tehrani, Neda. “Most Young People Lack Interest in Politics”. Behind Closed Doors. 2018: Article.

This article by Neda Tehani demonstrates how most young people lack interest in politics because of environmental issues like white supremacy and ecological destruction. Tehandi states that these factors affect young people’s ability to work at their best and only work at a precarious level. He goes into detail about how the older generation can help the young generation by tackling certain aspects in a smart way. Because of the fact that high stress levels correlated to political turmoil, the older generation are at least at a working optimal level to educate and help the younger generation in a genuinely moral way. Neda sets a tone of concern by how he continues to complain about how the younger generation is at big risk for not growing the right way and not having any knowledge about what’s happening. He subjects that the older generation and the younger generation work best together. This source is useful because it explains what’s happening with the younger generation and makes me understand why we need to depend on the older generation for certain things, especially knowledge.

Society and Youth. “ Decolonization in an educational Context.” 2015.PDF file.

This article by University of Victoria helps display what Decolonisation means in a university standing. There were many simple charts that explained what it meant and why it was important for students to know what it is. Decolonization does not mean solidarity among students but among staff. Researchers believe that curriculum is an important aspect of decolinization. The more you read into the article, the better the understanding for a student who has never taken the class.

 

Bhambra, Gurminder K., et al. Decolonising the University. Pluto Press, 2018.

This book is here to inform you that decolonization is a how universities try and implement other practices in order to fight decolonization. I read the introduction of the book and it really helped me understand what Eurocentric practices happen in schools. Why schools? because this study happened in specific university like Rhode island, a place heavily on white population. It also shows conflictive view points of what decolonization is.

 

Mateo, Francesca V. “Challenging Filipino Colonial Mentality with Philippine Art.” USF Scholarship: a Digital Repository @ Gleeson Library | Geschke Center, University of San Francisco, 16 Dec. 2016, https://repository.usfca.edu/thes/196/.

Mateo demonstrates that decolonization can be included in the art form. Although this is not school related this was another prime example how specifically, Pilipinos, try to inform what colonization is. During the business and entertainment industry don’t get enough credit in their edits and Filipinos are starting to make there break in these businesses. Asian culture itself would be removed because white people want to play asian roles. This is definitely not the case in this study that Mateo did.She also states a lot of ‘Colonial Mentality’. Simple history of the Philippines being small, it would get colonized so easily. Because of the colonialization, natives would pick up their mentality and forget the roots of where they came from. This was a great narrative to look into.

 

Olea, Ronalyn V. “Is Decolonization Necessary to the Lives of Filipino People?” Bulatlat, 2 June 2009, https://www.bulatlat.com/2007/08/04/is-decolonization-necessary-to-the-lives-of-filipino-people/.

This blog helped explain another viewpoint for the Filipinos that live here in America. Olea does a great job explaining why she believes in decolonization and how it was suppose to help her people. Not only do minorities have to focus on it but the higher power too, also known as the Whites. As a Filipino woman, she thrives to educate the outcomes of the how understanding different cultures can go a long way.The community has a duty to know about their culture in order to bring peace among themselves and others. This blog has to be read in order to understand your self identity and what role you will be playing in society.