May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) and at UConn, this month is celebrated each year in April. As we recognize APAHM this year, we have been reflecting on the increase in anti-Asian violence and racist attitudes that we have seen over the past year in the United States and in our own university community. The HESA program expresses our solidarity with the Statement on Anti-Asian Violence released by the UConn Association for Asian American Faculty and Staff last month.
We echo our colleagues’ sentiments about the need to systemically fighting anti-Asian racism: “What is happening is wrong and we must stand together to not only identify and call-out this kind of behavior and its bad actors; but we must work systemically and synergistically to change culpable aspects of our university and society, to ultimately eradicate this malignancy” (UConn AAAFS). Toward this aim, our program has committed to three goals:
- Enhance our curriculum and course syllabi to be more critically-inclusive of Asian and Asian American experiences in higher education;
- Host a set of teach-ins to better demonstrate our commitment to a more critically-inclusive curriculum; and
- Continue to work with our campus partners to share and receive best practices on cultural competencies and solidarity initiatives.
Though we intended to hold our teach-ins in April, our HESA community experienced an unexpected tragedy during that time, so we have chosen to delay these events until a future date. However, we still want to offer a set of virtual learning resources to our HESA community based on filmmaker and UCLA professor Renee Tajima-Peña’s PBS documentary series “Asian Americans.” We hope that members of our community will engage with and learn from these resources to deepen their understanding about the Asian American experience.
Interviews with Filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña
PBS Documentary Series “Asian Americans”
“In an era of exclusion and U.S. empire, new immigrants arrive from China, India, Japan, the Philippines and beyond. Barred by anti-Asian laws they become America’s first “undocumented immigrants,” yet they build railroads, dazzle on the silver screen, and take their fight for equality to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“An American-born generation straddles their country of birth and their parents’ homelands in Asia. Those loyalties are tested during World War II, when families are imprisoned in detention camps, and brothers find themselves on opposite sides of the battle lines.”
“During the Cold War years, Asian Americans are simultaneously heralded as a Model Minority, and targeted as the perpetual foreigner. It is also a time of bold ambition, as Asian Americans aspire for the first time to national political office and a coming culture-quake simmers beneath the surface.”
“During a time of war and social tumult, a young generation fights for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, and claim a new identity: Asian Americans. The war’s aftermath brings new immigrants and refugees who expand the population and the definition of Asian America.”
“At the turn of the new millennium, the country tackles conflicts over immigration, race, economic disparity, and a shifting world order. A new generation of Asian Americans are empowered by growing numbers and rising influence but face a reckoning of what it means to be an American in an increasingly polarized society.”