The Oklahoma State University National Asian American Movement is taking place from midnight on Wednesday to 11:45 p.m. Monday in protest of the death of Pvt. Danny Chen.
Chen died Oct. 3, 2011 in Afghanistan at age 19. He was harassed and beaten by his fellow soldiers before he was found shot in a guard tower in Kandahar Province.
The event, hosted on Library Lawn, will feature a banner reading, “What does it mean to be an Asian American?”
The Asian American Student Association wants participants to make birthday cards for Chen, sign the banner and express their beliefs on what it means to be an Asian American in today’s society.
Leona Thao, senior communication co-chairman of Midwest Asian American Students Union, expressed need for the movement.
“This happens a lot, so people wonder why this is different from the rest,” Thao said. “(Chen) was not killed by enemy fire, but took his own life after several weeks of racially targeted taunting by his superiors and fellow soldiers.”
Thao said 3.4 percent of the army is Asian Americans, as are 3.9 percent of officers. In addition, Asian Americans make up 4.1 percent of all military services, and 3.7 percent of officers.
“Imagine landing your dream job, then having it stripped from you as it became a living nightmare and you take your life,” Thao said. “Now imagine that it’s simply because of your race or ethnicity. The terms ‘Asian Americans’ and ‘bullying’ are becoming more and more intertwined with each other, being the most targeted group according to recent Department of Education studies.”
The group also asks students to change their Facebook status to, “What does it mean to be an Asian American?”
“So often the attention is focused on the Asian part of ourselves that the fact that we’re also American is not even thought about,” Thao said. “We have been here for over 150 years and we are seen as a new minority, one that has yet to completely fall into the American culture.”
The group is also asking for participants to wear red and be on Library Lawn at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday for a group picture and to show support.
“Our current generation has the chance to define what Asian American is,” Thao said. “We don’t have to fall victim to the stereotypes and bullying like Danny had to go through.”