As we celebrate the heritage of our brothers and sisters in the campus community who are of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent, the following insight was shared by our Director of Intercultural Studies and Associate Professor at Alliance Theological Seminary, Dr. Stanley John.
There is a need to understand people’s stories, their joys and successes, but also their pain and sorrows. The larger concern for AAPI community members in the U.S. experience is to just feel like their stories and their experience matter and are valued. Oftentimes issues of justice and concern facing Asian Americans are set aside for other concerns, so there is a perpetual feeling among many that I’ve spoken to of feelings of being a perpetual foreigner (“Go back to your country!”), invisibility (Your experience doesn’t matter.”) and stereotyping and generalizing without valuing uniqueness and depth (as even the term “Asian” tries to lump people together).
What is important is that we encourage people—who are Indonesian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or are from South Asian-Indian subcontinent and West Asian-Arabic speaking countries—express their stories where we push back against the three aspects mentioned above. Instead we want to emphasize: how Asians are Americans; they belong; they are seen; their contributions and their experiences matter. We desire to highlight narratives that push against stereotyping tendencies to grow people’s understanding of complexity.