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January 24, 2021

IAC panel talks Asian Americans in politics

By SIRI TUMMALA | November 8, 2018

The Inter-Asian Council (IAC) hosted a discussion about Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) politics on Thursday, Nov. 1. Undergraduate students attended the open conversation and discussed AAPI identity and representation.

The talk was the second in a new monthly discourse series related to current events and Asian-American identity. Conversation involved the programming co-directors of the IAC posing questions about topics such as how Asians are represented. Around 20 participants attended the event and shared their thoughts in a round table discussion. 

Junior Julia See, programming co-director of the IAC at Hopkins, described the organization’s mission. She described that educating people on various topics through hosting events is important because it helps encourage advocacy within the Asian student body. 

“One of our goals is to ignite the Asian community and to find the bond between the Asian community,” she said.

Jasen Zhang, programming co-director of the IAC at Hopkins, said that looking at how Asians are represented, in regards to being politically active, was very interesting.

“One thing that someone said is [we need to] make Asians angry. We don’t get angry enough when there is no other incentive to get involved,” Zhang said. 

Sophomore Michael Lan, assistant director of programming for IAC, echoed this sentiment. 

“Even from my parents’ point of view, they vote, but I know that they don’t necessarily do anything more than vote,” said Lan.

One question explored was whether or not Asians spend too much time in their own, “bubbles,” meaning that members of the community only interact with other Asians. 

One participant responded by bringing up her own Chinese cultural background. She remarked that a lot of Chinese people band together to make their community stronger. At the same time, she acknowledged that these bonds can make it harder to expand from outside this cultural circle. 

The discussion then moved to the perception of Asians as a “model minority,” a term which describes a group whose members are perceived to achieve higher socioeconomic success than other minority groups.

Freshman Yae Cha stated that she was surprised by how open-minded everyone who attended the event was. 

“Even with the discussions we had, there were divided opinions and views which surprised me because we go to a liberal school, so I thought everyone would have the same views,” she said. 

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