I had an opportunity to lead a session for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago’s 2013 Impact Fellows Program today, and as always, it was great to hear how people react to terms and ideas that have been swimming around my head for a while. We talked about the term Asian American, and in broad strokes touched on a myriad of topics from immigration history, to media, to popular culture. More than anything I’m reminded of what a loaded term it is, and how much it encompasses, even within the literal context of the two words, Asian and American.
Fellows had great questions for each other, some theoretical and some were more tactical, but all of them reflect what an important space IFP has created. The opportunity to explore organizing and activism through the collective Asian American experience is remarkable. We read an excerpt from Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror, and in it he says “America does not belong to one race or one group, the people in this study remind us, and Americans have been constantly re-defining their national identity from the moment of first contact on the Virginia shore. By sharing their stories, they invite us to see ourseves in a different mirror.” I think IFP invites this very experience, to tell the story of Asian America through the prism of their knowledge and experiences.