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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

AAA plans heritage events

AAA plans the AAPI Heritage month to raise awareness of marginalized Asian cultures and discuss intersectional identities.

By Siyuan Du

Grinnell’s Asian American Association (AAA) is planning the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month at the end of the semester. AAA Cabinet members Esther Hwang ’19, Jin Chang ’19 and Ruth Wu ’17 are excited to host a series of events on campus to discuss intersectional identities and raise awareness of marginalized Asian cultures.

The AAPI Heritage month events will feature a one-man spoken word performance entitled “Queer Heartache.”

“We are bringing Kit Yan, who is a queer, transgender Chinese American spoken word poet. He is nationally renowned, and we prioritized bringing him on campus for a string of events we are doing,” Hwang said.

“And it is really because of Kit Yan that we are able to gain funding from multiple organizations,” Wu said.

With support from the Stonewall Resource Center, the English Department, the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Department, the Theatre Department and the Multicultural Leadership Council, the events surrounding AAPI Heritage month this year are going to be bigger than ever. Bringing Yan on campus is an effort to foster conversations on the intersectionality of gender-related topics and Asian identities in the Grinnell community, but the scope of discussion extends far beyond this.

“[We focus on] gender-based violence in AAPI communities, queer and transgender identity with an Asian American culture, biracial identities and the impact of colonization on Asian cultures,” Hwang said.

AAA plans the AAPI Heritage month to raise awareness of marginalized Asian cultures and discuss intersectional identities.

Apart from Kit Yan’s visit, documentary screening and various workshops, the cabinet is also preparing for a food stall event that uses AAA’s power to join all the other Asian student groups together.

“We are discussing [how] to use that event to raise awareness of Asian cultures, not just Korean or Chinese [cultures], but really working with other student groups – South Asian Student Association, Philippine United Students Association, etc. We want to bring visibility and bring all the groups together. And possibly [we will] discuss raising money through selling food to promote Asian non-profits and Asian groups [which are] not so visible,” Wu said.

The motivation for setting these goals for AAPI Heritage month can be traced to the cabinet members’ understanding of Asian American identities. 

“There isn’t necessarily a commonality or a common experience that defines Asian American experience. The commonality is that we have all been racialized by a white America,” Chang said.

AAA works to avoid insularity and strives to build connections with other identity-affiliated student groups. The cabinet unanimously agreed on the importance of being conscious of the AAA’s grounding as an identity-affiliated association.

“We cooperate with Concerned Black Students (CBS) and Student Organization for Latinos/Latinas (SOL), and we want to remember that racism is not the only thing, but that there is activism and institutional solidarity involved,” Hwang said. “If we are going to fight for Asian American rights, we need to also fight for rights of other minority groups. We have common interests and there is a multi-cultural solidarity going on.”

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