Crimes against the Asian-American community spiked 150 percent this past year in the wake of the global pandemic and people across the country have raised their voices through the Stop Asian Hate campaign.
As a diverse institution engaged in an antiracist path, Montgomery College has continued to shed light on issues that disproportionately affect communities, especially communities of color, in order to create greater equity.
To that end, MC’s Office of Equity and Inclusion has been engaging in conversations that explore racism and create opportunities for dialogue and understanding.
One of such conversations, and part of the “Let’s Talk” series with the College community, aimed to dispel the “model minority” myth, confront uncomfortable realities, and promote possible solutions. “Debunking the Model Minority Myth and Combating Violence Against Asian-Americans” examined the history of racism against the Asian-American community in the United States and the importance of intersectionality, defined as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups.” Participants in the session also shared personal experiences.
Professor Emily Rosado, who coordinated and moderated both sessions, opened the discussion by defining the term “model minority.” She drew from the works of scholars Dr. Jiyoung Lee-An and Dr. Xiaobei Chen. “The ‘model minority’ focuses on prevailing stereotypes of Asians as hard-working, independent, intelligent and economically prosperous. But the stereotypes, while seemingly positive, hide many issues including anti-Asian racism, poverty, labor abuse and psychological needs,” she said.
All of these events are tailored to deepen the understanding and acknowledge issues and topics that some people may feel uncomfortable discussing with their neighbor or with their office partner, or even amongst students in their own classrooms.
Rosado noted the term “model minority” was coined by a sociologist who was not part of the Asian-American community. “We are definitely not a monolithic group,” Rosado said, reminding participants that people from 48 countries and three territories make up the group.
The panel included Montgomery College professors Dr. Lisa Kiang (psychology), Dr. Naliyah Kaya (sociology), and Eurae Muhn (English), as well as students Matthew Watson and Faith Tabora.
The second panel discussion, “Debunking the Model Minority Myth and Responding to Asian-American Stereotypes in the Classroom,” held April 5 as part of Spring Equity Week, included College professors Dr. Thomas Chen (chemistry), Dr. María García (journalism), and Jennifer Lee (English), as well as students Matthew Watson, Faith Tabora and Richard Forng.
This year’s Spring Equity Week theme, Bridging Generations: Unifying Conversations, Communities and Culture, covered an array of topics, programs and performances conducted by students, faculty and staff. It hosted over 450 individual employees and more than a hundred student and community participants.
The event also featured two keynote speakers. Tim Wise, a prominent anti-racist essayist, educator and author, spoke about dismantling institutional racism in “Beyond Diversity: Steps for Uprooting Racism, Privilege and Institutional Inequity.” Lee Mun Wah, an internationally renowned Chinese American documentary filmmaker, author, poet, Asian folk teller, educator, community therapist and master diversity trainer, presented “The Art of Mindfully Communicating About Race and Racism.”
“All of these events are tailored to deepen the understanding and acknowledge issues and topics that some people may feel uncomfortable discussing with their neighbor or with their office partner, or even amongst students in their own classrooms,” said Sharon Bland, chief equity and inclusion officer at Montgomery College. “The Office of Equity and Inclusion is intent on bringing topics to the forefront that may not be the most comfortable to talk about.” Bland believes these conversations are crucial for fostering understanding and forging equity for future generations.
Banner photo credit: recep-bg