Losing generation of activists who fought racism proves need for Asian American studies

Losing generation of activists who fought racism proves need for Asian American studies. - @NBCAsianAmerica

3/3/2021 11:29:00 PM

Losing generation of activists who fought racism proves need for Asian American studies. - NBCAsianAmerica

'We're at an important point in history where we have to record their stories,' one scholar said. 'There are so many rich life lessons that we can learn from their involvement in movements for social change.'

, Asian teenagers are creating punchy videos to explain the roots of anti-Asian racism and amplify new hate incidents. All those sources, she said, could be powerful educational tools.Some established community organizations have launched initiatives to raise awareness about the impact that Asian elders have made in specific professions.

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Michelle Lee, president of the Asian American Journalists Association, said the sudden passing of longtime member Corky Lee and Ibata, a co-founder of the organization's Chicago chapter, shows that it's"more important than ever to highlight the careers of trailblazers."

"We need to recognize that we're just one of many generations carrying forward the mission of diversifying our industry, of making sure that diverse communities are covered accurately and fairly," she said, adding that the group has been collecting members' memories of Lee and Ibata to document their impact on journalism. headtopics.com

Umemoto said a deeper understanding of the Asian American movement can also help activists build more inclusive and tactically effective campaigns. In 1971, Corky Lee drew inspiration from the Black Panthers' social service programs to help organize a health fair in Manhattan's Chinatown, providing free testing for tuberculosis, lead poisoning, venereal diseases and other conditions. The effort grew into the Chinatown Health Clinic.

But scholarship about such campaigns, Umemoto said, has been confined mostly to college libraries and lecture halls.In 2019, the UCLA center sought to make that knowledge more accessible by publishing"Mountain Movers," a book that profiles the student activists who, during the 1960s, fought for ethnic studies programs at UCLA, the University of California, Berkeley, and San Francisco State University. Umemoto, who co-edited the book, said she wants to teach K-12 students about that history through free online curricula that"integrate historical narratives with multimedia experiences."

The goal, she said, to encourage young people to pick up the causes their elders started."It's hard to separate what we can do as a tribute to their lives from the fight for social and racial justice in general," she said."I think they would be happy to see that the younger generation is carrying on the fight."

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