Over the last 7 months, the diversity committee has sent monthly email with events and activities. Our plan for April was the same. But, given the recent spike in violence against people with Asian heritage, the typical “broad focus” monthly email didn’t seem appropriate. And, while May is Asian American Heritage Month nationally, here on campus we celebrate in April with the theme “Initiating Introspection”.
Anti-Asian sentiment is not new in the US, yet increases have followed the COVID-19 pandemic (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56218684). This trend is troubling for many reasons not the least of which is the dramatic impact that harassment and violence have on both victims and the broader community.
Here in Tippie, our goals are for everyone to feel welcome and for everyone to thrive. For that to happen, we must celebrate our differences and stand up against racism.
There have been marches and rallies in support of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (sometimes abbreviated as AAPI) and international students from Asia. Social media hashtags of #stopasianhate and #racismisavirus have brought further attention to this heartbreaking trend. One of many lists circulating about how we can help (Cabison & Chan, Rolling Stone, March 17) includes the simple step of “educate.” In that spirit, here are local stories and events that we hope you find informative:
- One of the University’s cultural houses is the Asian Pacific American Cultural Center (APACC), established in 2003. The coordinator, Prisma Ruacho, is a Tippie graduate! APACC is sponsoring many events this month including a talk by Iowa Writer’s Workshop alumna Cathy Park Hong. On Wed, Apr 21 at 5:30 PM, Hong will discuss her book, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning.
- Monsoon is a Des Moines based organization that serves victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities in Iowa. They have an excellent article about populations numbers and history right here in Iowa. https://monsooniowa.org/asians-in-iowa.
- As the Monsoon article notes, Arab and other people from West Asia (explanation of that term) are not counted as racial minorities in US government statistics. As a result, this population is undercounted and overlooked in many conversations about diversity. This is worth further explanation considering that this month is also when Muslims celebrate Ramadan.
- Tippie is partnering with the College of Dentistry for a panel discussion In Solidarity with Asians and Pacific Islanders in America. Details will follow but please put a hold on your calendar for Wednesday, April 28 6-7:30PM.
- You can read 12 suggestions for how to celebrate Asian American Heritage from the Des Moines Partnership: https://www.dsmpartnership.com/news-media/blog/12-ways-to-celebrate-asian-pacific-american-heritage-month.
- Our very own Matsalyn Brown was part of a migration of Tai Dam people from the northwestern part of what is now Vietnam to Laos and then to Iowa before she was even a year old. Tom Snee wrote a great article about her story: https://now.uiowa.edu/2018/06/matsalyn-brown-keeps-her-tai-dam-culture-alive-iowa.
- The famous Fong’s Pizza grew out of what was, for a while, the oldest continuously operating Chinese restaurant in US – King Ying Low. Even though it was popular, the owners faced discrimination and even persecution in Des Moines: https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aaronc13/king-ying-low-fongs-pizza-des-moines.
Please watch the University of Iowa Celebrating Asian Heritage video, noting that Together We Rise: https://youtu.be/rpVeof6A7e0
Here in Tippie, we have many faculty, staff, and students with connections to China, India, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, and neighboring countries. Some in our community were born there and moved, while others with family roots in these countries were born here in the US. No matter where they were born, our community would be a weaker and less vibrant place without them.
Let us take a moment this month to educate ourselves on the history of their contributions right here in Iowa and stand together against racism.