This past weekend, I attended ECAASU, a conference focused on Asian American issues. Aside from the opening speakers, there was a Twitter-fueled discussion on the first day with Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education. He brought forward a theme of Asian American initiative, which was a theme that was continually enforced throughout the conference.
The next day, attendees were invited to join in on workshops. I attended three: Apathetic Asian Americans (Mobilizing the Apolitical Other), Asian American Media & The Impact of the Internet, and Speech is Free Not Worthless (Fighting Racism on Your Campus).
Overall, I enjoyed the workshops. They all ran parallel with the theme of putting Asian Americans in movement, politically and socially. The speakers invited us to break stereotypes and to lead our generation. I did, however, conflict with some approaches that were given in the third workshop, “Speech is Free, Not Worthless: Fighting Racism on Your Campus.” The workshop focused on, just like the title says, fighting racism on your campus. Topics such as the controversial Duke frat Asian party were discussed, and ideas were given on how to combat these situations. All of the ideas on how to bring forth the problem and to find a solution were good, but I did not like how the speakers led the conversation. Yes, it is important to get social media involved and to bring attention to the subject, but the speakers fueled the actions with anger. One of the speakers said, “I don’t want activists, I was abolitionists.” That statement itself made me uncomfortable. There is no way that change can come by fighting hate with hate.
The other two workshops, however, were wonderfully led, sparked great conversation, and had a much more tender approach to everything. Overall, ECAASU 2014 was good; I met many new faces and I hope to participate in another one in the future despite me graduating from college this year.
– Allan Peng