TIME Opinion

Why Ferguson Should Matter to Asian-Americans

A female protester raises her hands while blocking police cars in Ferguson
A female protester raises her hands while blocking police cars in Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 25, 2014. Adrees Latif—Reuters

Ferguson isn’t simply black versus white

A peculiar Vine floated around social media Monday evening following the grand jury announcement in Ferguson, Mo. The short video shows an Asian-American shopkeeper standing in his looted store, with a hands-in-his-pockets matter-of-factness and a sad slump to his facial expression. “Are you okay, sir?” an off-screen cameraman asks. “Yes,” the storeowner says, dejectedly.

The clip is only a few seconds, but it highlights the question of where Asian-Americans stand in the black and white palette often used to paint incidents like Ferguson. In the story of a white cop’s killing of a black teen, Asian-Americans may at first seem irrelevant. They are neither white nor black; they assume the benefits of non-blackness, but also the burdens of non-whiteness. They can appear innocuous on nighttime streets, but also defenseless; getting into Harvard is a result of “one’s own merit,” but also a genetic gift; they are assumed well-off in society, but also perpetually foreign. Asian-Americans’ peculiar gray space on the racial spectrum can translate to detachment from the situation in Ferguson. When that happens, the racialized nature of the events in Ferguson loses relevance to Asian-Americans. But seen with a historical perspective, it’s clear that such moments are decidedly of more colors than two.

VOTE: Should the Ferguson Protestors Be TIME’s Person of the Year?

Michael Brown’s death has several parallels in Asian-American history. The first to come to mind may be the story of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American killed in 1982 by a Chrysler plant superintendent and his stepson, both white, both uncharged in a racially-motivated murder; like Brown, Chin unified his community to demand protection under the law. However, most direct parallels have often had one distinct dissimilarity to Ferguson: they have not spurred widespread resistance, nor have they engraved a visible legacy.

There is the story of Kuanchang Kao, an intoxicated Chinese-American fatally shot in 1997 by police threatened by his “martial arts” moves. There is Cau Bich Tran, a Vietnamese-American killed in 2003 after holding a vegetable peeler, which police thought was a cleaver. There is Fong Lee, a Hmong-American shot to death in 2006 by police who believed he was carrying a gun. None of the three cases resulted in criminal charges against the police or in public campaigns that turned the victim’s memory into a commitment to seek justice. One op-ed even declared how little America learned from Tran’s slaying.

While Ferguson captures the world’s attention, why do these Asian-American stories remain comparatively unknown?

One possible answer could be found in the model minority myth. The myth, a decades-old stereotype, casts Asian-Americans as universally successful, and discourages others — even Asian-Americans themselves — from believing in the validity of their struggles. But as protests over Ferguson continue, it’s increasingly important to remember the purpose of the model minority narrative’s construction. The doctored portrayal, which dates to 1966, was intended to shame African-American activists whose demands for equal civil rights threatened a centuries-old white society. (The original story in the New York Times thrust forward an image of Japanese-Americans quietly rising to economic successes despite the racial prejudice responsible for their unjust internment during World War II.)

Racial engineering of Asian-Americans and African-Americans to protect a white-run society was nothing new, but the puppeteering of one minority to slap the other’s wrist was a marked change. The apparent boost of Asian-Americans suggested that racism was no longer a problem for all people of color — it was a problem for people of a specific color. “The model minority discourse has elevated Asian-Americans as a group that’s worked hard, using education to get ahead,” said Daryl Maeda, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “But the reality is that it’s a discourse that intends to pit us against other people of color. And that’s a divide and conquer strategy we shouldn’t be complicit with.”

Through the years, that idea erased from the public consciousness the fact that the Asian-American experience was once a story of racially motivated legal exclusion, disenfranchisement and horrific violence — commonalities with the African-American experience that became rallying points in demanding racial equality. That division between racial minorities also erased a history of Afro-Asian solidarity born by the shared experience of sociopolitical marginalization.

As with Ferguson, it’s easy to say the Civil Rights movement was entirely black and white, when in reality there were many moments of interplay between African-American and Asian-American activism. Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama worked alongside Malcolm X until he was assassinated in front of her. Groups protesting America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, like the student-run Third World Liberation Front, united resisters across racial lines under a collective radical political identity. W.E.B. DuBois called on African Americans to support the 1920s Indian anti-colonial resistance, which he compared to whites’ oppression of blacks. Chinese-American activist Grace Lee Boggs, who struggled as a female scholar of color, found passion in fighting similar injustices against African-Americans alongside C.L.R. James in the 1950s. Though Afro-Asian solidarity wasn’t the norm in either groups’ resistance movements, the examples highlight the power of cross-racial resistance, and what hardships they shared as non-whites.

The concept of non-whiteness is one way to begin the retelling of most hyphenated American histories. In Asian-American history, non-whiteness indelibly characterized the first waves of Asians arriving in the mid-1800s in America. Cases like People v. Hall (1854) placed them alongside unfree blacks, in that case by ruling that a law barring blacks from testifying against whites was intended to block non-white witnesses, while popular images documented Asian-American bodies as dark, faceless and indistinguishable — a racialization strengthened against the white supremacy of Manifest Destiny and naturalization law. Non-whiteness facilitated racism, but it in time also facilitated cross-racial opposition. With issues like post-9/11 racial profiling, anti-racism efforts continue to uphold this tradition of a shared non-white struggle.

“This stuff is what I call M.I.H. — missing in history,” said Helen Zia, an Asian-American historian and activist. “Unfortunately, we have generations growing up thinking there’s no connection [between African-Americans and Asian-Americans]. These things are there, all the linkages of struggles that have been fought together.”

The disassociation of Asian-Americans from Ferguson — not just as absent allies, but forgotten legacies — is another chapter in that missing history. In final moments of the Vine depicting an Asian-American shopkeeper’s looted store, the cameraman offers a last thought in their conversation that had halted to a brief pause. “It’s just a mess,” the cameraman says. The observation, however simplistic, has a truth. That, as an Asian-American who’s become collateral damage in a climate often black-and-white, he, like all of Ferguson, must first clean up — and then reassess the unfolding reality outside.

TIME Smartphones

These Are the Best Smartphone Deals This Black Friday

Apple iPhone 6/6 Plus Launch in Japan
A member of the press compares the new iPhone models at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus at the Apple Omotesando store on September 19, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Chris McGrath—Getty Images

And this Cyber Monday

Couldn’t snag a new phone earlier this fall? This weekend might be the best time — if you’re willing to brave the lines and the early wake-up times, or manage to get a good deal online. Here are a few big smartphone deals to watch out for:

Apple iPhone 6 16GB
Original price: $199 with two-year contract

Starting Friday, Walmart and Sam’s Club will offer a 16GB iPhone 6 for $179 with a two-year contract in addition a bonus $75 gift card. At Target, the 16GB iPhone 6 with a two-year contract will be sold at $180 with a $30 gift card. At Best Buy, the same iPhone 6 with a two-year contract is sold at $199 with a $100 gift card if you trade in your old iPhone.

Samsung Galaxy S5
Original price: $199 with a two-year contract

At Best Buy, the Galaxy S5 with a two-year contract will be sold for $1.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Original price: $299 with two-year contract

Verizon is offering a $199 Galaxy Note 4s with a two-year contract on Friday.

Unlocked Second Generation Motorola Moto X
Original price: $499

Motorola is selling the unlocked second generation Moto X 16GB at $359 on Monday. For Verizon customers, a new Moto X is only $0.01 with a two-year contract.

Unlocked Amazon Fire Phone
Original price: $649

The unlocked Amazon Fire phone without a contract will be $199 on Amazon, and it also comes with a full year of Amazon Prime, valued at $99 — meaning the phone works out to $100, all told. It’s unclear if this is just a Black Friday deal or a permanent price change to spark the lagging Fire Phone’s sales.

TIME ebola

Ebola Isolation Is ‘Pretty Much Vacation’ for U.S. Service Members Back From West Africa

Langley Transit Center in a pre-existing expeditionary training center, for military personnel returning from Ebola missions in West Africa, at Langley Air Force Base Va. on Nov. 4, 2014.
Langley Transit Center in a pre-existing expeditionary training center, for military personnel returning from Ebola missions in West Africa, at Langley Air Force Base Va. on Nov. 4, 2014. Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland—AP

"It's Wi-Fi everywhere, flat screens everywhere, big gym to either lift or run"

Ebola quarantine for health care workers has been likened to prison, but isolation for military personnel appears to be a much more relaxed experience.

American service members returning from missions in West Africa are required by the Department of Defense to undergo precautionary, 21-day quarantines in one of five designated U.S. bases, with at least one center providing everything from cafeterias to entertainment centers, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

At Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, there are 21 small buildings housing about 90 service members, the first batch to return from the roughly 1,800 troops deployed to the region. There, service members described having access to video games and a library, in addition to being able to select what they want to eat for each meal.

“All I can say about this camp, Langley, it’s pretty much vacation. It’s Wi-Fi everywhere, flat screens everywhere, big gym to either lift or run. There’s an asphalt road kind of running around the perimeter that you can work out on,” said Navy Chief Petty Officer Jason Knifley. “This isn’t bad at all.”

Returning service members undergo the twice daily temperature measurements, and there have been no reported infections yet. Despite the perks, the service members believe it’s also their experiences in handling tough circumstances that help them stay positive.

“Most of us have been in far worse conditions than this, and it’s only 21 days,” said Air Force Maj. Jeffrey Chaperon, who is among those isolated on the base. “You can stand on your head for three weeks if you’ve got to.”

[AP]

TIME animals

This Is Why Dogs Are Sloppier Drinkers Than Cats

New research analyzes the physics behind their tongue movements

New research points to the scientific reason why dogs seem to be messier drinkers than cats.

While cats gently dip their tongues into the water’s surface, dogs thrust their tongues into water at an acceleration five times gravity, according to a presentation called “How Dogs Drink Water” at the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting this week.

To see it for yourself, here’s a slow-motion video of a cat drinking:

Compare that to a slow-motion video of a dog drinking:

While the researchers previously studied how cats drink, their latest presentation focused on dogs, using an underwater camera to map the surface area of their tongues that made contact while lapping up the liquid. In addition to finding that heavier dogs use more of their tongues to drink, they also discovered that dogs must open their mouths to capture the water they lift, further contributing to the splashes.

While it seems the research is just for fun, the scientists said their pet-centric work could in turn lead to deeper understandings of fluid dynamics.

[Discovery News]

TIME animals

Why Vultures Don’t Get Sick From Eating Rotten Meat

New study takes a closer look at how vultures can consume meat that other animals cannot

The rotten flesh of a vulture’s diet would sicken, if not kill, most animals of its size — so how do vultures manage to keep down meals of decaying meat?

Vultures have a digestive system that has evolved to destroy dangerous bacteria while tolerating other harmful toxins, according to a new study published Tuesday in Nature Communications. The research paints a clearer picture of how vultures’ strong stomach acid permits a diet of rotten carcasses, a fact that scientists have known for years.

Researchers specifically focused their study on the DNA of bacteria found in the vulture’s stomach, discovering that of the hundreds of bacteria present on the beak, only two dominated their guts, a “remarkably conserved low diversity of gut microbial flora,” the study said. Since the vultures’ gastrointestinal tracts are “extremely selective” in which bacteria they destroy, scientists believe their findings suggest that vultures evolved alongside their food sources.

“On one hand, vultures have developed an extremely tough digestive system, which simply acts to destroy the majority of the dangerous bacteria they ingest,” said University of Copenhagen microbiologist Michael Roggenbuck, one of the study’s authors, in a statement. “On the other hand, vultures also appear to have developed a tolerance toward some of the deadly bacteria — species that would kill other animals actively seem to flourish in the vulture lower intestine.”

TIME Ferguson

Twitter Users Mock Photos of Ferguson Cop Darren Wilson’s Injuries

An undated evidence photograph made available by the St. Louis County prosecutors office on Nov. 25, 2014 shows Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson during his medical examination after the shooting of Michael Brown.
During the medical examination, bruising was discovered on Wilson's cheek where he says Brown punched him in the face St. Louis County

After the medical examiner's photographs of Wilson after the shooting were released

Twitter users have taken to the hashtag #ThingsMoreHurtThanDarrenWilson to express frustration over the photographic evidence of Darren Wilson’s injuries following his shooting of Michael Brown.

The photographs of Wilson, released Monday evening by the St. Louis prosecuting attorney following the late-night announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict him, offer a closer look into Wilson’s claims that he feared for his life before shooting and killing Brown.

In the photos, Wilson appears to have sustained bruises to the back of his neck and his jaw, which some people do not believe indicate that Brown posed as much of a danger as Wilson indicated in his newly released grand jury testimony.

In an interview that aired Tuesday evening, Wilson said he has “a clean conscience” regarding the Aug. 9 killing and insisted “I know I did my job right.”

MORE: Ferguson Erupts Again After Cop Cleared in Killing

TIME space

The First 3-D Printer in Space Prints Its First Object

3-D Printer Space First Object
International Space Station Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first object made in space with 3-D printing. Wilmore installed the printer on Nov. 17, 2014, and helped crews on the ground with the first print on Nov. 25, 2014. NASA

The printer's goal is to make spare parts and tools for the International Space Station

The first 3-D printer in space has borne its first object, NASA said Tuesday, and it’s a bit self-fulfilling.

The object, a replacement faceplate for the printer’s casing that holds its internal wiring in place, is one of about 20 objects that will be printed aboard International Space Station (ISS) over the coming weeks, the space agency said. The objects will then be sent down to Earth for analysis, the final step in testing the 3-D printer before establishing a permanent 3-D printing facility aboard the space station.

“This is the first time we’ve ever used a 3-D printer in space, and we are learning, even from these initial operations,” said Niki Werkheiser, project manager for the ISS’s 3-D printer. Creating the faceplate demonstrated how the printer is able to make replacement parts for itself, the agency added. “As we print more parts we’ll be able to learn whether some of the effects we are seeing are caused by microgravity or just part of the normal fine-tuning process for printing.”

Before its launch in June to the ISS, the 3-D printer had successfully completed a series of tests evaluating its ability to withstand take-off forces and to function properly in zero gravity. The goal is to create spare parts and tools to make the ISS less dependent on expensive resupply ships, in addition to improving crew safety.

TIME Crime

National Guard Presence to ‘Significantly’ Ramp Up Around Ferguson

Police officers in riot gear stand guard in Ferguson, Mo. on Nov. 24, 2014 Barrett Emke for TIME

Gov. Jay Nixon said deployment in and around Ferguson to rise from 700 to more than 2,200

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon pledged Tuesday to “significantly” ramp up the National Guard’s presence in and around Ferguson after a night of violent riots, fires and looting followed the announcement that a white police officer would not be indicted in the August shooting death of an unarmed black teen.

“No one should have to live like this, no one deserves this. We must do better and we will,” he said. “The violence we saw last night cannot be repeated.”

More than 2,200 Guardsmen would be deployed in the region, up from 700 in 100 locations on Monday night, in an effort to avoid repeating the events that played out in the area. Looters damaged or destroyed at least a dozen buildings, while others set several cars aflame, as law enforcement officers fired smoke bombs in a bid to restrain crowds of angry protesters.

Television networks, photographers and ordinary citizens wielding smartphones latched onto scenes of unrest, disseminating them widely as the night went on. In the morning, some showed scenes of the smoldering buildings and cars while others focused on immediate clean-up efforts.

Nixon was joined by several state officials who used similarly grim language. “Last night was a disaster,” said Col. Ronald Replogle, head of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. And Daniel Isom, director of Missouri’s Department of Public Safety, called Monday night “a disappointment in so many ways.”

“Our community not only needs to be safe,” added St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. “They need to feel safe.”

The announcement of the security boost came soon after Ferguson Mayor James Knowles criticized the lack of National Guard presence amid the tumult, saying he was “deeply concerned” that Nixon chose not to deploy additional Guardsmen as violence increased in the area. “It was my understanding that they would be deployed, if needed, to maintain order and protect businesses,” Knowles said. “They were not.”

VOTE: Should the Ferguson protestors be TIME’s Person of the Year?

Knowles also revealed that Wilson remains on administrative leave, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. Prior to the grand jury announcement Monday, Ferguson’s police chief had said the officer may be able to return to his job should he not be indicted.

TIME Web

Study: Most Americans Don’t Understand How the Internet Works

Pew Web IQ
Getty Images

Though most Internet users are familiar with basic technology concepts

Most American Internet users aren’t familiar with the concepts underpinning the Internet and common technology, a survey released Tuesday found.

Pew Research Center’s Web IQ Quiz polled Americans with 17 questions relating to the web and technology, varying in technicality from where hashtags are used to the what Moore’s Law means, according to the survey. While the majority of quiz takers correctly defined common Internet terms like net neutrality, most respondents struggled to correctly answer other questions about the infrastructure behind the Internet, like whether “Internet” and “World Wide Web” are the same.

The survey also found that only 44% of respondents were aware that a company’s privacy policy doesn’t necessarily mean the firm will actually keep users’ information confidential.

Younger Internet users performed the best on the quiz, with the lowest age bracket (18-29) answering on average 10.1 out of the 17 questions correctly (about 60%). The highest age bracket (65+) answered on average 7.8 out of the 17 questions correctly (about 45%).

 

TIME legal

The Supreme Court Is About to Make a Big Decision About Facebook Free Speech

Facebook Threats Supreme Court Case Elonis
Till Jacket—Getty Images/Photononstop RM

The case could have big implications for how we use social media

The Supreme Court on Monday will consider whether violent language posted on social media is covered by the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.

The case, Elonis v. United States, hinges around the question of whether a Facebook message can be considered a “true threat,” or a threat a reasonable person would determine to be real. That would be an important distinction, because “true threats” don’t get First Amendment coverage. But it won’t be an easy problem to solve: While it can be easy to call a threat “true” if it’s given verbally, making that call gets harder when threats are posted online, where they lack the context, tone and other indicators of intent present in verbal communication. It’s also arguably easier to make threats online, especially if it’s done anonymously.

What happened?

A lower court had sentenced Pennsylvania man Anthony Elonis to about four years in federal prison over several Facebook posts threatening his estranged wife. The posts included, among other things, raps about slitting his wife’s throat and about how her protection order against him wouldn’t be enough to stop a bullet.

A sample:

There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.

But how is that not a “true threat?”

Elonis contends his posts weren’t a threat to his wife but rather a therapeutic form of expression. It’s commonly accepted that violent images are often part of rap music and other media, and artistic expression is protected under the First Amendment, explaining Elonis’ legal strategy. Still, the issue of whether Elonis had the intent to threaten is not necessary for a threat to be deemed a “true threat.” That requires only for a reasonable person to believe a threat is authentic.

“The dividing line here is whether we’re judging the threat based on the intent of the speaker, or on the reaction of the people who read it and would’ve felt threatened. That’s really the key question,” said William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota.

What if the court upholds Elonis’ conviction?

Several experts agree that such a decision could stifle freedom of speech online and offline, particularly among artists. If the court rules against Elonis, artists could be more hesitant to share anything that could be perceived as threatening — a slippery slope. On the other hand, such a ruling could increase the number of online harassment cases aggressively pursued by law enforcement. And there could also be a censorship effect on social media companies like Facebook.

“You have the potential for creating a chilling effect both on the part of speakers, but possibly even more on the part of entities that host potentially threatening speech,” said Paul Levy, an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group. “If intent [to threat] isn’t needed [to prosecute], then it seems that the Facebooks of the world have to worry that they, too, can be prosecuted. It could have a serious censoring effect.”

What if the court rules in Elonis’ favor?

Some experts agree this is probably what the Court will do. In the past, the Supreme Court has demonstrated a commitment to protecting all kinds of speech, however vile or unpopular, by citing the First Amendment to protect everything from a filmmaker’s “animal crush” abuse videos to the Westboro Baptist Church’s anti-gay public speech.

“The First Amendment is one of the strongest protections of free speech in the whole world, and it’s a very rare thing to have a law that actually makes it a crime to express certain ideas,” said Marcia Hoffman, an attorney and special counsel to digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation.

But if the Court chooses to overturn Elonis’ conviction, that move might not provide a clearer definition of which online threats constitute a “real threat.” That would leave us legally in the dark when it comes to abuse over the Internet.

“Society is still struggling to really figure out how the Internet works and how it affects people, both users of the Internet and subjects of the speech on the Internet,” said William Marcell, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “I think the court might want to buy a little bit more time to see if a threat over the Internet is really as serious as one face-to-face.”

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