Keeping it Real: Affirming the Asian American Community webinar
November 29, 2021
Monday, November 29, 2021 – CSUMB faculty hosted a webinar featuring San Francisco State University’s Dr. Russell Jeung to discuss the discrimination experienced by Asian Americans and what can be done about it. Speaking to an audience of over 200 attendees from across the country, keynote speaker, Russell Jeung, a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State and one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, immediately took the conversation to a national scope, explaining the mission of his organization, Stop AAPI Hate (stopaapihate.org), as a clearinghouse of hate incidents against Asian Americans. The data collection began in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic as a collaboration of Chinese for Affirmative Action, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, and SF State Asian American Studies, and was motivated in part by Prof. Jeung’s research on the stereotyping and scapegoating of Asian Americans throughout American history. He also connected his own personal history to the Monterey Bay region: his great-grandfather was a successful businessman at Monterey’s waterfront—near where the Monterey Bay Aquarium now stands—until White business interests burned down the entire village.
Panelists from our local community continued to cross boundaries. Marina Mayor Pro Tem, Kathy Biala, talked about her efforts to install a statue of Martin Luther King in front of the public library, a years-long effort that only succeeded with the election of new city council members. Phuong Nguyen, Associate Professor of U.S. History in the School of Humanities and Communication at CSUMB discussed the role of stereotypes in justifying discrimination, but also how leaders can build bridges that get past stereotypes. Jennifer Kuan, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Economics at CSUMB explained how discriminatory structures have held down not just individual aspirations and careers, but depressed economic growth and productivity, making discrimination a problem that affects everyone. And finally, Angie Tran, professor of political economy at CSUMB discussed her work on international migrant workers but also her own personal journey as a Vietnamese immigrant, a journey made possible by the advocacy of African Americans.
This dialogue, moderated ably by event organizer Vanessa Lopez-Littleton, Chair, Health, Human Services, and Public Policy Department and Associate Professor of Public Administration, and Nonprofit Management, and Laurel Lee-Alexander, Vice President of Community Impact at the Community Foundation for Monterey County, highlights the challenges we face but also the possibilities for progress. Dr. Jeung noted that much of the violence his organization has documented can be characterized as a fight or flight response, but that forums like this one represent a third, better way: coming together, or “flocking”. The point that Provost Katherine Kantardjieff made in her eloquent welcome carried the evening, that multi-disciplinary conversations within CSUMB and with our community were the founding principles of the university and are needed now more than ever.
Vanessa Lopez-Littleton wrapped up the event by asking the audience members to think about a key take-away, idea, or concept they learned that they'd like to share with another person? Dr. Lopez-Littleton also challenged viewers to identify one thing they could commit to doing in the next 30 days to support an individual or group in any of the different Asian communities.
- Join Asian Communities of Marina! Contact Kathy Biala at email@example.com.
- Dustin Wright share work by his students at CSUMB to learn more about the communities and issues addressed in the discussion https://digitalcommons.csumb.edu/asia-pacific-foodways/
- Training recommended by Laurel Lee-Alexander: https://www.ihollaback.org/bystander-resources/
- Op-ed by Vanessa Lopez Littleton: ASPA's PA Times, Dec 12, 2021: Affirming the Asian Community: Building Bridges/Making Connections