Unmasked Reflections of An Asian American Attorney-Author

Harvey Gee[1]

In Mascaras, Trenzas, Y Grenas: Unmasking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse[2] (“Unmasking”) Margaret Montoya provides an insightful account of her experiences as the first Latina student at Harvard Law School.  Through her self-reflection of being a Latina law student negotiating the predominately white culture at Harvard, Montoya ties together the personal, social, and political dimensions of racial identity.  Her biography supports the ideal that racial identity, though influenced greatly by society as a whole, remains a personal choice. By succeeding in negotiating the color-line, she demonstrates that it is certainly possible to debunk the myth of the necessity to fully assimilate into the American mainstream in order to succeed.  In particular, she focuses on resisting the cultural assimilation that often comes with higher education.[3]

The first time I read Montoya’s essay was in my Critical Jurisprudence course taught by Professors Amy Kasteley and Yvonne Cherena-Pacheco during my second year at St. Mary’s School of Law.  I thought the essay was insightful and provocative.  Before Unmasking, there was little storytelling in legal scholarship.  Montoya published her piece at a time that Critical Race Theory, which challenges the beliefs in “color-blindness,” was only beginning to gain traction.  Even before the emergence of LatCrit,[4]  Montoya use storytelling to challenge traditional legal discourse from a Latina perspective.  Essentially, Montoya asserts that various masks are used to control how people respond to racial minorities/outsiders, and in turn, these masks are tools in racial subordination.[5]

In this brief essay, I reflect back to the first time I read Unmasking as a law student sixteen years ago and how the teachings of Montoya’s article remain relevant to me today a criminal defense attorney and writer.  The essay also broadens Unmasking’s primary points to demonstrate that civil rights and social justice are a universal cause shared by many outsider groups.

Throughout Unmasking, Montoya cites to her own examples as a law student when she felt the social pressure to assimilate.[6]  She noticed that she went though an acculturation process that could have been measured with her change in dress style: from wearing a Mexican peasant blouse and cutoff jeans on the first day of orientation to dressing like a lawyer.[7]  In her view, this was an example of her assimilation into the dominant culture, which many Latinos are encouraged to do by parents.[8]  But Montoya warns that in doing so, these practices of cultural assimilation serve as a mask for Latina/os to hide behind.[9]

Montoya’s life story, though Latina-centered, resonated with my own personal story as an Asian American.  My parents came to this country from China with little money, seeking a better life for themselves.  Once my parents arrived in San Francisco, and until their retirement, my father worked as a cook, and my mother worked as a seamstress.  While working long hours, living on meager wages, and facing other challenges, they managed to raise four children who were able to complete their educations.

In reading (and rereading) Unmasking, I gleaned many similarities, and some differences, between my law school experience and hers.  To begin, Montoya discuses her memories from law school including reading People of the State of California v. Josefina Chavez[10] in her criminal law class. Her professor was focused solely on the legal issue—whether the baby had been born alive for purpose of the California manslaughter statute—and ignored the other important facts in the case such as the defendant’s youth, her poverty, her fear about the pregnancy, and her delivery in silence.  Unfortunately, this is the norm with black-letter and traditional case analysis, which often downplays the important historical, social, and political context of the case facts.

I witnessed this first-hand during my first year in a criminal procedure class when my professor was discussing the Fourth Amendment and search and seizure, and made a passing reference to Wong Sun v. United States[11] which was a key United States Supreme Court opinion that for the first time applied the “fruits of the poisonous tree” doctrine to statements that were the product of an illegal search, and not just to physical evidence.  It was part of the Supreme Court’s criminal procedure revolution during the 1960s.[12]  Remarkably, despite its lasting legal significance, it is a case that my professor only briefly discussed for its holding.  Because of the cursory mention of the case, most of the other students did not realize that it was a fascinating mid-century snapshot of American attitudes toward Asian Americans in general, and toward the Chinese drug gangs that plagued San Francisco in particular.  Presently, this lack of attention paid to Asian Americans and criminal justice is also reflected in historical studies of racial discrimination in the administration of justice, which tends to focus on African Americans and Latinos, with less attention paid to Asian Americans.

Next, I also agree with Montoya’s repeated theme that the balancing of two cultures does not have to be an insolating, individualistic, or secretive process that alienates outsiders from families or their communities. I think I have been able to strike a balance by being able to function in white, mainstream America while being able to stay true to myself while in Asian communities.  But there are some points that Montoya makes that I disagree with.  For example, Montoya states that some students are attracted to the profession because they want to disguise themselves and have no desire or need to look for their hidden selves.  She also notes that some students might resent the role-playing that is necessary of them to succeed in their studies and in their relations with professionals and peers.  But what of students like me who did not necessarily fit into either category?  Such students are not denying their identity, because they know their inner-selves, and are not against role-playing.  They genuinely enjoy the law school experience and enjoy the community of professors and classmates.

Upon reflection, as a seemingly self-aware Asian American, I believe my own personal interests guided my research pursuits during law school.  St. Mary’s, with its commitment to social justice and its history of taking a special interest in minorities, especially Hispanics,[13] was also a tremendously supportive environment for me to further grow as a person.  As an active member of the Asian-Pacific American Law Student Association (“APALSA”) who was also involved in other extracurricular activities, I was particularly aware that St. Mary’s did not have any Asian American faculty at the time.  This is not surprising since there are few Asian American law professors, and even fewer female Asian American law professors.[14]  Asian Americans are also less actively recruited by law school faculties compared to African Americans and Hispanics.[15] But when Asian Americans are appointed to the legal academy, they have an opportunity to write about issues impacting Asian Americans, which have been largely ignored by mainstream academics and courts.  This observation served as the seed for my writing.

In fact, when I became a member of the St. Mary’s Law Journal, I realized that I had no interest in producing mainstream scholarship.  At the same time, I noticed that most, if not all, of the articles selected for publication were pieces that were not race- or public interest-related.   Sure, there may have been an occasional article about affirmative action, but for the most part, the articles addressed issues such as professional responsibility, evidence, contracts, torts, or oil and gas.  Montoya seems to agree.  She suggests that the contexalization of facts through the use of gender-linked/cultural information broadens the understanding of legal issues.[16]  Montoya adds that raising questions about gender, class, and ethnicity runs counter to traditional legal discourse.  But it is necessary to do so, since Montoya notes that without outsider perspectives, most of the discussion would be among professors and students who shared common life experiences.  Perhaps this ideal partly explains my own motivation in writing.

I drew upon my background when I was a member of the St. Mary’s Law Journal and wrote Changing Landscapes: The Need for Asian Americans to be Included in the Affirmative Action Debate[17] (“Changing Landscapes”), my first law review piece about Asian Americans and affirmative action. That piece was written under the dark shadows of the Fifth Circuit’s Hopwood v. Texas decision[18] and passage of the 1996 California Civil Rights Initiative.  Both of these legal setbacks to racial progress occurred in states where I had lived. California was my home state, and I moved to Texas to start law school.  This was an eye-opening experience for me as a native San Franciscan, since I lived in a city where Chinese Americans constituted the largest racial minority group, and where liberal politics permeated from the Richmond District though the Mission District, and to the Castro.  I then moved to San Antonio, where Hispanics are the largest minority, and where conservatism governs.

During research for Changing Landscapes, I stumbled upon other Asian American issues that I felt needed to be addressed or at least have attention paid to them. In my second article, Beyond Black and White: Selected Writings By Asian Americans Within the Critical Race Theory,[19] I analyzed the place of the then emerging scholarship by Asian Americans in the Critical Race Theory genre. As a racial minority group that has been historically discriminated against, Asian Americans have sought to challenge, through legal scholarship and Critical Race Theory, the traditional legal discourse that has often glossed over Asian American issues.

In later sections of Unmasking, Montoya talks about the pressures that Harvard students felt to assimilate as law students to pursue traditional legal career paths, including securing associate positions in large law firms.  In my case, I never really felt such pressure, and strived to be true to myself.  With regards to career choice, I was always interested in criminal law and focused on a public interest law career.  This interest was cemented when I interned at the San Francisco Public Defenders Office and was a Student Attorney at the Civil Justice Clinic.  Third-year law students in the Clinic represent homeless and other indigent clients in a variety of civil cases, including benefits, estates, and family matters.  There, I was fortunate to gain great practical experience.  In one case, I represented a teenage mother struggling to retain custody of her child after the child’s father petitioned for custody in an effort to resist the Attorney General’s attempt to collect child support.  In another case, I represented a client at his administrative hearing following the social security administration’s denial of his benefits. These cases were tremendous learning experiences for me.

As I recall, as a law student, unlike a number of my classmates, I did not dramatically change my style in clothes or alter my reading habits or social activities.  However, some of my classmates who never had professional jobs before or came from border towns may have experienced some adjustments in getting used to engaging with “insider” law students, law professors, attorneys, and judges at law school social functions.  Sometimes race did matter.  During some social activities, I also recall many times that African American and Hispanic students would find comfort in confiding in me their benign social commentary about whites, just as whites would do the same about African American and Hispanics.  Perhaps it was an example of how an Asian American, while an outsider, was able to negotiate the color-line in ways that other racial groups could not (or at least in different ways).

Though Montoya does not mention it, masking is not restricted to racial assimilation.  In Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights,[20] Kenji Yoshino writes about the pressure he faced to “cover” his homosexuality at Yale Law School because his sexual orientation had not yet gained acceptance in the field of law. [21]  In his book, Yoshino walks the reader through his own process of coming to terms with his racial and sexual identity. He first sought to become straight, remaining open to the concept of conversion, and then accepted his homosexuality, but concealed it from others.[22]  Eventually, Yoshino had to decide whether to conceal his sexuality from others or to be openly gay.[23]  As a Yale law student, he found a mentor in an openly gay professor who did not cover his sexual orientation and gained acclaim and recognition for his writings on gay legal issues.[24]  Inspired by his mentor, Yoshino rejected conversion, though he initially tried to hide his sexual identity from his classmates.

Fast forward: as an attorney today, who is still resisting any forced cultural assimilation, I believe that law students who may be unsure about what path to take with regard to their legal career do not have make a choice between being a legal academic,  activist, or a practicing attorney.  Personally, I feel that I have been fortunate to combine most of these things as an attorney-activist-writer.  As a first-generation American and attorney, I have always felt compelled, and somewhat obligated, to advocate on behalf of underserved populations in court and through legal scholarship.  I have managed to blend my personal interests with my practical expertise to bring unique knowledge and insight to my scholarship, which is focused on civil rights and related public interest topics.

I am especially proud of my scholarship about Asian Americans, since I feel that I have brought new perspectives to the literature.  My life experience as an Asian American has informed my writings, which reflect empathy for immigrants and awareness of Asian American history.  For instance, at varying times, I have experienced most of the core social issues that affect Asian Americans in assimilating into the American culture, including the stereotypical portrait of Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners.  Like many perceived outsiders, I am often asked, “Where are you from?  Sometimes it is a general question about where I was raised, and not about my race.  Other times, the question is asked out of curiosity about my ethnic background.  Sometimes it is asked by other Asians, and sometimes it is asked by non-Asians.  When it is asked out of curiosity about my ethnicity, I have often wondered why whites or African Americans are not asked similar questions about their racial background, and whether my six nieces and nephews, and their children, will encounter the perpetual foreigner experience throughout their lifetimes.  Even NBA basketball player Jeremy Lin, the first Asian American to achieve basketball stardom, has not been free from racist and offensive stereotyping. [25]  The only thing that Lin did to capture America’s attention was to play great basketball.  Apparently, in Lin’s case, skin color alone is enough of an instigator to provoke such comments.

Here, a broader perspective is possible.  The perpetual foreigner stereotypes coexist with other stereotypes of Asian Americans, which are facilitated by the media.  Historically, Asian women have been objectified, primarily by white males, as exotic “orientals,” “dragon ladies,” or chaste “lotus blossoms,” [26] while Asian Americans males have been underrepresented in film due to the belief that they are too ethnic looking for white audiences.[27]  But when they do appear on screen, Asian American male actors appearing in television, movies, and magazines have stereotypically been portrayed as one-dimensional fumbling geeks, conniving villains/gangsters, or martial artists. [28] Asian males are not perceived as potential romantic leads, either. For example, when was the last time there has been a romance depicted involving an Asian male on television? We have seen Asian American women coupled with white men, but we infrequently see an Asian American male and white (or non-Asian) female couple on television. Today, the quantity of television and film roles for Asian American men have not increased, but the quality of the roles has. In film, Daniel Dae Kim appears weekly on television in Hawaii 5-O as does Harry Shum, Jr. in Glee. John Cho is known for his role as “Harold Lee” in the Harold & Kumar films and “Hikaru Sulu” in the Star Trek movie sequel, and Sung Sang appeared in the Fast & Furious movies and with Sylvester Stallone in the recently released film, Bullet to the Head.

If nothing else, through my writings, I feel as though I have brought a much-needed perspective to immigration cases and issues about bilingual education and bilingual ballots that may have an adverse impact on the Asian American community, and other immigrant communities.  Similarly, in the criminal context, I have written about how Asian Americans are often overlooked in the criminal law literature despite their contributions to legal history and contemporary conversations about crime policy.  These articles reflect my experience in criminal defense as well as my cultural competence in understanding the legal and cultural representation of Asian Americans in criminal matters.  Judging by the citations to my law review articles and editorials by leading academics who promote criminal justice reform, and by public interest advocates in Supreme Court litigation and State Defender Offices in state criminal appeals, I feel I have accomplished a great amount by contributing to debates about important and sometimes delicate legal issues of great concern to minority communities.

Writing elsewhere, Montoya asserts that legal scholarship and law practice are not mutually exclusive, but rather their intense collaboration “is a prerequisite to bringing about effective social change.”[29]  In fact, they work in tandem and help each other.  Attorneys can refer to outsider scholarship or the social science literature to advocate on behalf of their clients.  Here are two examples of this. First, as a practical matter, analyzing Asian Americans in their appropriate socio-historical-political context, in criminal cases, illustrates how racial justice does not exist in an exclusively black/white paradigm and that culture can be both an effective and ineffective tool in any criminal defense strategy. We should be aware of how non-Asians perceive Asians and vice versa. Moreover, we should realize that Asian Americans are not one monolithic group, but rather a population consisting of diverse cultures with differing religious beliefs, values, customs, and patterns and norms of behavior. Since cultural awareness can influence jurors and judges, all legal stakeholders in the criminal justice system should move beyond stereotypes toward becoming more culturally aware. Perhaps the first step is to acknowledge that racial and cultural differences exist and to be open-minded in considering all relevant cultural factors and circumstances to ensure justice for all.

Second, Critical Race Theory and Asian American Legal Scholarship have also changed the direction of the affirmative action debate, while simultaneously demonstrating the connection between legal theory and litigation practice, by placing the issue in the proper historical/social/political context.  In my view, properly designed and implemented affirmative action programs are a constitutionally valid tool to remedy past discrimination, stop present discrimination, and prevent further discrimination.[30] Affirmative action opens doors that have been historically closed for women, racial minorities, and the disabled. [31]  Diversity in a student body and in the workplace promotes cross-racial understanding that helps to break down racial stereotypes, and it assists in cultivating leaders with legitimacy.  Affirmative action addresses disparities in education, the criminal justice system, health care, employment, wealth, and structural inequality.

Affirmative action has never been a purely black/white issue—all racial minorities, and individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, should benefit.  When Asian Americans and other non-whites are included in the debate, the validity of affirmative action becomes even clearer.  The model minority myth has created a stereotype of Asian Americans as one monolithic ethnic group that has achieved success though education and hard work without the assistance of governmental benefits.[32]   Such a myth is disingenuous, and masks the reality that Asian Americans are still affected by discrimination. It also obfuscates the fact that Asian Americans are still in need of affirmative action, and it is often used by opponents of affirmative action to show that affirmative action is not needed to help minorities.  But to share the view of those who seek to abolish affirmative action would be agreeing to maintain an oppressive racial hierarchy, and it would enable subordination.

Behind the facade that Asian Americans are a successful minority group and that Asian Americans are succeeding at university campuses across the country, lies the fact that Asian Americans are the victims of past and present hostility and discrimination.[33]  The reality of Asian American progress towards racial equality reveals the existence of substantial discriminatory obstacles in the areas of employment and education.  Though Asian Americans in the aggregate have done well in higher education, certain Asian American groups still need some type of assistance.  Further, including Asian Americans in the debate also weakens claims of so-called “reverse discrimination” because no single racial group is harmed disproportionately.  Yet, some lawyers sometimes still do not understand affirmative action.  I recall a conversation I had a few years ago with a friend, who is white, about affirmative action.  After talking about our individual upbringings, he was of the belief that that he and I were born on a level playing field and had the same advantages and social mobility in life.  He also believed that Asian Americans and whites are similarly situated, and that these two racial groups do not generally face any societal discrimination.  Unfortunately, despite my responses and best efforts, he could not be persuaded otherwise.

In short, I believe that most of the teachings of Montoya’s piece were as powerful to me when I first read it as they are today.  I am grateful to Montoya for writing an insightful narrative that says a great deal about the complexities of race relations in this country, and how outsiders must be true to themselves and avoid succumbing to societal pressures to conform.  I am also pleased that I have been able to follow the course I charted as a law student.  As an outsider my entire life, and now living as an unmasked Asian American man and serving as an attorney at the Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc., I have the honor and privilege to compassionately, ethically, and zealously represent indigent outsiders who are accused of federal crimes in different phases of criminal proceedings in federal district court and courts of appeals.  I handle a wide range of cases including felonies, misdemeanors, appeals and non-capital habeas matters.  The nature of these cases require me to be creative in making legal arguments, planning investigations, and crafting trial and appellate advocacy.  Importantly, my cases affect individuals who have few options. As such, my work is client-centered.  My clients are some of the most vulnerable members of the community who often have mental health issues, substance abuse problems, and suffer from educational deficits.  Part of the challenge of my job is asking my clients difficult questions, making difficult decisions, and taking calculated risks in providing my clients with the best representation possible, and in seeking social justice.  I do all of these things without a mask.

I close my essay with some recommendations based on my experiences as a St. Mary’s law student, and now as a Public Defender: there should be an expansion of the focus of racially equitable justice reform.  As a student, many of classmates were Hispanic, and presently, most of my clients are African American.  Through these experiences, I have witnessed the similarities that these groups share with Asian Americans, and believe that these similarities are important in building coalitions and alliances with political and social groups and movements in shared collective efforts for justice.  At the grassroots level, and with community organizing, there is a tremendous opportunity to discuss the possibility of coalition building despite the cultural and class differences and potential conflicts and impediments that could arise.[34]   For instance, African Americans have been concerned with the perceived negative effects of immigration on their community, and poor and working class African Americans worry about competition for low-skilled jobs.[35]  In higher education, Asian Americans might believe that they compete against African Americans and Latinos for admission slots.[36]    Yet collectively, African Americans, Latinos, and Asians are targets for racial profiling and subjects of the criminal justice system.[37]  Since racial justice is a universal cause, lessons can be learned from the litigation in other civil rights cases and contexts.  Just as African American, Latino, and Asian American civil rights groups have joined together to preserve affirmative action,[38] and advocate for same-sex marriage[39] and immigration reform, they can also form coalitions in the struggle for criminal justice reform.[40]  Similarly, at the highest levels of government, I believe that President Obama, who is continuing to diversify the federal bench, should take a more public and defined position supporting affirmative action, since it is a continuation of the civil rights movement.  This should be followed up with a project to develop an initiative by the Obama Administration to robustly support affirmative action and encourage an embrace of diversity.  The initiative would be timely because we need to renew a much needed dialogue on race relations in an America that is far from being “post-racial.” By using the blueprint offered by Montoya’s Unmasking, Americans can make meaningful efforts towards achieving racial and social justice.


[1] Attorney, Federal Defenders of the Middle District of Georgia, Inc.; U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Program finalist in 2012. The views expressed herein are not necessarily attributed to any past, present, or future employers.

[2] Margaret Montoya, Mascaras, Trenzas, Y Grenas: Unmasking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse, 17 Harv. Women’s L.J. 185 (1994).

[3] Id.

[4] See Margaret E. Montoya & Francisco Valdes, “Latina/s/os” and the Latina/o Legal Studies: A Critical and Self-Critical Review of LatCrit Theory and Legal Models of Knowledge Production, Fla. Int’l U. L, Rev. 187, 192 (2008).

[5] Id. at 197.

[6] Id. at 185.

[7] Id. at 191.

[8] Id. at 193.

[9] Id. at 194.

[10] People v. Chavez, 77 Cal. App. 2d 621 (1947).

[11] 371 U.S. 471, 487-88 (1963).

[12] See Corinna Barrett Lain, Countermajoritarian Hero or Zero? Rethinking the Warren Court’s Rule in the Criminal Procedure Revolution, 152 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1361, 1365 (2004).

[13] See Kevin R. Johnson, Dedication of “The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review of Minority Issues,” St. Mary’s L. Rev. of Minority Issues 1, 2 (1999).

[14]  See Pat K. Chew, Asian Americans in the Legal Academy: An Empirical and Narrative Profile, 3 Asian L.J. 7, 8, 37 (1996); Shawn Ho, Co-Synthesis of Dynamics Behind the Dearth of Asian American Law Professors: A Unique Narrative, 18 Asian Am. L.J. 57, 57 (2011).

[15] See Alfred C. Yen, A Statistical Analysis of Asian Americans and the Affirmative Action Hiring of Law Faculty, 3 Asian L.J. 39, 41 (1996); see also Vikram David Amar & Kevin R. Johnson, Why U.S. News and World Report Should Include a Faculty Diversity Index in its Ranking of Law Schools, FindLaw Writ (Apr. 9, 2010), http://writ.news.findlaw.com/scripts/printer_friendly.pl?page=/amar/20100409.html (“Asian Americans may face the stereotype that they are too passive or lack strong social skills to do well in the classroom.”).

[16] Montoya, supra note 2, at 217 (1994).

[17] See Harvey Gee, Changing Landscapes: The Need for Asian Americans to be Included in the Affirmative Action Debate, 32 Gonz. L. Rev. 621 (1997).

[18] 78 F.3d 932 (5th Cir. 1996), abrogated by Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), as recognized in Bourdais v. New Orleans, 485 F.3d 294 (5th Cir. 2007).

[19] See Harvey Gee, Beyond Black and White: Selected Writings By Asian Americans Within the Critical Race Theory, 30 St. Mary’s L. J. 759 (1999).

[20]  See Kenji Yoshino, Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (2006).

[21]  Id. at 88-89.

[22]  Id. at 20.

[23]  Id. at 18.

[24]  Id. at 13-18.

[25] See Timothy Yu, Will Jeremy Lin’s Success End Stereotypes?, CNN, Feb. 21, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/20/opinion/yu-jeremy-lin/index.html.

[26] See Keith Aoki, Is Chan Still Missing? An Essay About the Film on Cedars and Representation of Asian Americans in U.S. Films, 7 UCLA Asian Pac. L.J. 30, 35 (2001). See also Rhonda J. Yen, Racial Stereotyping of Asians and Asian Americans and its Effect on Criminal Justice: A Reflection on The Wayne Lo Case, 7 Asian L.J. 1, 8 (2000).

[27] See The Slanted Screen (Asian American Media Mafia 2006).

[28] See Tan Pham, Unseen Yellow, 7 How. Scroll Soc. Just. L. Rev. 1, 19 (2004).

[29] See Margaret E. Montoya, Of “Subtle Prejudices,” White Supremacy, and Affirmative Action: A Reply to Paul Butler, 68 U. Colo. L. Rev. 891, 930 (1997).

[30] See Carl E. Brody Jr., A Historical Review of Affirmative Action and the Interpretation of Its Legislative Intent By the Supreme Court, 29 Akron L. Rev. 291, 310 (1996).

[31] See K.G. Jan Pillai, Affirmative Action: In Search of a National Policy, 2 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 1, 2 (1992).

[32] See Elaine Woo, UCLA Denies Any Policy of Limiting Asian Admissions, L.A. Times, Nov. 19, 1988, at 1 (reporting that university official denied setting limits on Asian American enrollment); see also Emil Guillermo, Are Asian-Americans the New Jews?, San Diego Union-Trib., July 8, 1996, at B7 (dispelling Asian American stereotypes and discussing need for affirmative action programs).

[33] See Selena Dong, Note, “Too Many Asians”: The Challenge of Fighting Discrimination Against Asian-Americans and Preserving Affirmative Action, 47 Stan. L. Rev. 1027, 1048 (1995) (discussing past discrimination against Asian Americans and their eligibility for inclusion in affirmative action programs); Theodore Hsien Wang, Swallowing Bitterness: The Impact of the California Civil Rights Initiative on Asian Pacific Americans, 95 Ann. Surv. Am. L. 463, 463 (1995) (discussing lack of attention paid to how Asian Americans have benefited from affirmative action); Dana Y. Takagi, The Retreat From Race: Asian American Admissions and Racial Politics 150-53 (1992) (discussing the reexamination of admissions policies by major universities following allegations of discrimination against Asian Americans); Grace W. Tsuang, Note, Assuring Equal Access of Asian Americans to Highly Selective Universities, 98 Yale L.J. 659, 659 (1989) (discussing legal basis for claim by Asian American applicants denied admission to universities due to upper limit quotas); Jerry Kang, Negative Action Against Asian Americans: The Internal Instability of Dworkin’s Defense of Affirmative Action, 31 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 1, 39-40 (1996) (describing maximum enrollment quotas placed on high-achieving Asian Americans as a result of over-representation).

[34]  See e.g., Kevin R. Johnson, The Struggle for Civil Rights: The Need For, and Impediments To, Political Coalitions Among the Within Minority Groups, 63 LA. L. Rev. 759, 780 (2003); Karla Mark McKanders, Black and Brown Coalition Building During the “Post-Racial” Obama Era, 29 St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev. 473, 487-88 (2010); Raul Carnevali, Multiculturalism: A Challenge for Modern Criminal Justice: A Latin American Perspective, 47 No. 2 Crim. Law. Bulletin Art. 5 (2011); Frank H. Wu, The Limits of Borders: A Moderate Proposal for Immigration Reform, 7 Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 35, 52-53 (1996) (describing potential political conflicts between African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos on issues, including affirmative action and immigration).

[35]  See Kevin R. Johnson, The Case for African American and Latina/o Cooperation in Challenging Racial Profiling in Law Enforcement, 55 Fla. L. Rev. 341, 360 (2003).

[36]  See Gee, supra note 17, at 627; Rachel F. Moran, What If Latinos Really Mattered in the Public Policy Debate?, 85 Cal. L. Rev. 1315, 1326 (1997).

[37]  See Johnson, supra note 35, at 371.

[38]  Parents Involved in Cmty. Schs v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007); Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003).

[39]  Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 704 F. Supp. 2d 921 (N.D. Cal. 2010).

[40] See, e.g., Gentry v. Super. Ct. of L.A. County, 165 P.3d 556 (Cal. 2007); Strauss v. Horton, 207 P.3d 48 (Cal. 2009). See also Kevin R. Johnson, Racial Hierarchy, Asian Americans and Latinos as “Foreigners,” and Social Change: Is Law the Way to Go?, 76 Or. L. Rev. 347, 357 (1997) (“Asian Americans and Latinos have many common grievances.  Political strategies and mutual efforts to combat those common evils and construct a more inclusive nation, which accords full membership rights to all rather than simply those who fit the Anglo norm, would benefit both groups.”).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Still Un/Masking the Self: Legal Education and the Experience of the Other | Harvard Journal of Law and Gender - March 11, 2013

    [...] Harvey Gee, Unmasked Reflections of An Asian American Attorney-Author [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>