APIAVote organized a series of workshops as part of the National AAPI Leadership Summit from June 29 - July 2. The purpose of this programming was to offer education on salient issues impacting the APIA community, and compel community members to take action and register to vote. One of the workshops on July 1, “Race and Identity in Leadership”, explored participants’ views of “good leadership” and how white supremacist characteristics have contributed to that narrative.
There were three objectives in the workshop, which invited audience participation throughout the 75-minute session.
Objective #1: Connect common archetypes of leadership to white supremacy culture
The first exercise was to share ideas of what leadership looks like. Participants were quick to express core themes and phrases, such as, empathy, transparency, articulation of common goals, compassion, and communication. However, when asked which leaders we looked up to, the group was more reticent, which posed an interesting question around the displays of effective leadership in the media and in our everyday lives. A 2019 chart revealed the disproportionate distribution of those in political power vs. the nation’s demographics. For example, women of color made up 20% of the U.S. census, but only 4% of U.S. elected officials were women of color.
Objective #2: Name specific principles of white supremacy culture
The workshop referenced Tema Okun’s piece, which outlined characteristics of white supremacy culture, and expanded on four in particular.
Given the surge in APIA hate crimes since the start of COVID-19, the discussion touched upon the fear in APIA communities to speak up and “take up space”. One participant's comment alluded to a theme of internalizing microaggressions in the workplace: “I’m 2nd generation, and I think in the Asian immigrant community especially, it’s really easy to internalize this because it also goes with the ‘better life’ goals.” This type of dialogue provided an enlightening view into the deeply ingrained roots of white supremacist culture and further supported the idea that “oppressive cultures exist by privileging certain core values/ways of thinking that belong to a dominant group.”
Objective #3: Describe how our unique leadership can reflect our own identities and values
As much as the traits of white supremacist culture can stir up negative, painful experiences, it is important to draw focus and strength on how we, as individuals, can reflect our own values in our leadership style. For example, instead of perfectionism, we can expect mistakes as part of success and applaud the process. Instead of individualism, we can recognize the collectivism and community-driven mindset that has fostered so many of our APIA & POC cultures. Instead of objectivity, we can amplify and validate a wide variety of views and opinions.
The “Race and Identity in Leadership” workshop shared an encouraging message for the APIA community: While there may be fear in taking up space, there can be space for all of us. By dismantling principles of white supremacist culture, we can collectively create and sustain more inclusive models of leadership. For more resources, please visit Asian Women for Health or refer to the APIAVote workshop slides.
Rachel Park is a AWFH volunteer, focusing on programming and advocacy. She is a Newton, MA native and currently resides in Somerville. After graduating with a B.A. in history from Bryn Mawr College, Rachel taught English in Seoul, South Korea for two years. Since then, she has worked on web teams in higher education, healthcare IT, and e-commerce in the greater Boston area. She is excited to contribute her web and project management experience to the AWFH mission!
May is both Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, and while these important occasions have come to an end, it is important to recognize that there are available resources, especially on how to support Asian and Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the 60-minute webinar, co-sponsored by the Asian Caucus of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), pressing questions from parents, caregivers, and educators on how to support AAPI children during this pandemic were addressed by child development experts, touching on not only how it fits in a broader and historical context of racism, but also the different ways parents could protect their children.
Following the death of George Floyd, as well as the rise of xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiments recently, it is important to acknowledge that racism has a long history in America that carries forward today for racially minoritized groups. To understand the backlash against Asian Americans, we have to observe the long, racialized history of xenophobia which dates back to the exclusion of Chinese immigrants in the 1880s, the internment of Japanese Americans in WW2, Koreans in Vietnam and Korean War, and South Asians during 9/11 and forward; now, Asian Americans, on good days, are portrayed as model minorities which, unfortunately, are used as a racial wedge that discounts the experiences of other racial minority groups. With the emergence of COVID-19, the use of ethnic slurs that inflames fear and hatred against Asians by politicians legitimizes racial attacks on Asians. Because of that, there has been a reported increase in direct and indirect racial discrimination as well as xenophobia which affects identity development and the mental health of Chinese parents and children living in the US.
As parents, it is natural to want to protect children at all costs, making it difficult to raise these racial issues to them. While reluctance is normal, parents need to be proactive about these issues by instilling ethnic pride and racial socialization. Research suggests that parents need to make sure children feel safe and cared for, reassuring them that things will be okay. With this security, it is then appropriate to discuss what is happening using languages they understand while also introducing new terms (i.e. prejudice, stereotype, etc.) to help consolidate these experiences. Parents should also understand how to foster healthy and prideful identity in children with age-appropriate ways. As early as infancy, children start noticing differences based on perceptual characteristics which then develops to intuitive sorting and classifying at ages 3-4. Applying cultural and ethnic socialization strategies become important from ages 4-7 to support a healthy sense of development at a time when children start developing their own identity. After building a foundation of strong ethnic pride, racial socialization is essential as it teaches children what it means to grow up in this society as racialized minorities and, especially during this pandemic, how prejudice and stereotypes are amplified due to politicians creating a hostile climate for the Asian American community.
Another important aspect of today's society that influences the way anti-Asian sentiments are being expressed right now is through media and technology. Of course, it comes as no surprise that media representation matters, media content matters, and immediate consumption matters. Unfortunately, the representation of Asian Americans is largely invisible and usually stereotypical and white-washed. As parents, it is important to practice mediation. Starting with restrictive mediation, limiting media consumption, but more importantly, active mediation, by deconstructing media images and having important conversations like distinguishing fantasy and reality. In addition to the media, cyberbullying has risen extremely, especially during this pandemic. Children often don't tell adults in their lives about experiences with cyberbullying, in fear that nothing will happen or bullying will get worse. What parents are suggested to do is to set the context—provide them with the utmost support whilst encouraging them to not respond and keep track of evidence.
While it is important to support children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also necessary for parents to manage their anxieties about this situation. Firstly, it is crucial to acknowledge that we are all going through tough times, and as parents, there are added challenges to help children. Therefore, self-care is key. Take care of oneself by utilizing and building a network to support ourselves. Be proactive and don't be silenced.
Jennifer Liu is AWFH's fellowship intern this summer through Tisch Summer Fellows. She has lived in Jakarta and Singapore, and is a rising sophomore at Tufts University studying mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering. Her passions include neuroscience, graphic design, as well as music. At Tufts, she is part of the e-board for Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia Students Association (SIMSA), and is also involved in the Women in Tech Conference and Women Entrepreneurs @ Tufts.
Photo credit: Amy Manion
We met by the infamous Feidler statue that I apparently never recalled seeing on the Charles River Esplanade. For some of us, it was our first time there. It was a beautiful, sunny, breezy day. Plenty of people were enjoying the park just like us. There were people riding bikes, running, dogs walking, swimming, and sitting. There were beautiful flowers and trees, the Boston skyline, the river. Water skiers caught our attention. We captured it all.
We were tasked with observing, being mindful of our surroundings, walking, being curious, and capturing it on the camera. A brief overview of photography themes were mentioned: color, texture, rule of thirds, before we took off to venture on our own. We went in groups but ended up each coming back separately, finding what we fancied, what made us take a second look.
We came together to share what we had captured. We ended with holding hands and stating what we were thankful for, ready to start the rest of our day with a grateful mindset. It was more than just the photography. We shared our stories of what brought us to the event, how we knew each other, how we were all connected. We shared our experiences, our struggles and strengths. It was all very spontaneous and natural. Asian women uniting to reflect and support one another. It was extremely empowering and a day I will not forget.
The photograph that stood out for me is not so special in it’s composition. It’s something I never would have seen if I had not been inspired to walk mindfully and observe my surroundings. A sticker on the side of a public trash receptacle with a recycling symbol on the side made this everyday, common object stand out for me, take a second look, and take a picture of it. It’s nice to be reminded of something that we can all use and practice more of.
The following is a brief recount of my hospital stay after my delayed left DIEP (Deep Inferior Epigastric Perforator) flat reconstruction surgery. I hope by sharing my experience, others might gain a sense of what it is like to have this type of operation and what to expect in the hospital. I would also like to dedicate this to all who cared for me at the health center.
Chien-Chi Huang is a middle-age Chinese American breast cancer survivor from Taiwan, who wishes to start a pilot project to empower the other Asian American breast cancer survivors with the skills and knowledge to do outreach and prevention work in their own communities. She currently resides near Davis Square, Somerville, MA with her husband, two teenagers, a dog, and a cat.