Benedictine hosted an Asian American healing and discussion panel featuring four panelists on Monday via Zoom. They discussed Asian American topics like representation, challenges, faith, leadership, and activism.
“There’s no test for what it means to be Asian American,” said Dr. Corrine Kodama, Assistant Professor of Global Studies at UIC. “It’s not a matter of blood or generation. If you identify in
some way with the Asian American community and you feel like you belong there, then you belong there.”
They discussed the difficulty of defining what it means to be an Asian American and the criteria to be considered an Asian American.
“I feel like that question is still defining itself even after the term Asian American was first uttered,” said Phil Yu, celebrity blogger, and author. “The funny thing is that a lot of Asian Americans themselves don’t know what that means.”
They later discussed representation in their respective fields.
“For me, not only was it an issue of Asian American representation but it was also an issue of sex in one leadership position I served in,” said Dr. Mrinalini Rao, scientist, and professor. “Very often there would be 12-15 men and there will be 3 women, of which I was the only person of color.”
They also discussed what activism and faith mean for Asian Americans.
“It doesn’t mean just being proud, it means fighting for what you believe in as an Asian American,” said Yu. “It also means standing up and speaking out.”
“If you ask how religion or faith helps you deal with racial trauma, it is very difficult,” said Russell Jeung, founder of Stop AAPI Hate and Professor of Asian American Studies. “It can help you cope and find community, but if you’re a person of color you are going to be traumatized time and time again because racism is so persistent.”
The event ended with a Q&A section and was organized by Samiha Syed, a junior and Interfaith American Fellow.