Last week’s movie club discussion centered around the first two episodes of the PBS docuseries, “Asian Americans.” The history of race in America, how Asian American history is similar and different to that of other marginalized populations, and how policy and societal issues continue to impact Asian American identity were the topics raised. Here are some takeaways:
- The history of race in America is closely knit with the history of labor.
- i.e. Chinese workers built the railroad and it continues today with institutions like for-profit prisons.
- The United States has a long history of pitting marginalized groups against each other.
- However, Asian Americans are banding together as a unified AAPI community, rather than distinguishing themselves as Japanese American, Chinese American, Korean American, etc.
- Asian American representation in media is slowly improving, but still needs to improve
- Issues of white washing roles, fetishization, and tokenization in modern media show that this problem continues to persist
- Asian American identity has been, and continues to be, complex.
- Many are written off as “less American” despite being born and/or raised here
About 20 members of DiversifyIT shared personal experiences, societal observations, and prior knowledge to enrich the discussion citing examples from the documentary. Organizers Angela Zoss and Will Sexton provided a summary of the session with resources – Summary of Session 1.