FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 1, 2020
The Asian American Center and the Carolina Asia Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are proud to co-present “Anti-Blackness and Alliance: A Series on Asian-Black Race Relations,” public events which will take place over the course of the 2020-21 academic year.
The series brings a wide variety of speakers together to discuss the history and contemporary landscape of Asian-Black interconnections in politics and culture. Anti-Blackness and alliance are only two of the ways to describe these connections, and rather than viewing them as opposites, the audience is asked to question how these modes and others can coexist and conflict with each other.
“This series comes at a crucial moment for many Asian Americans,” says Prof. Heidi Kim, Director of the UNC Asian American Center and Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. “The Black Lives Matter movement has motivated many Asian Americans to reexamine their place in the racial hierarchy of the U.S. Combined with the surge of anti-Asian racism due to COVID-19, it’s been an unsettling and activating year. We welcome everyone who wants to participate in a frank conversation about anti-Blackness and Asian America.” Professor Ji-Yeon Jo, Director of the Carolina Asia Center and Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, also says, “With this series, we hope to create a space for well-informed discussion to address chronic and systemic racism in our society and build a sustainable racial alliance with a renewed awareness of human dignity and empathy.”
The first event will be on September 10 at 7pm. “I’m Not Racist…Am I?: A Conversation about Antiracism” featuring Barb Lee, founder and president of Point Made Films, and Prof. Michelle Robinson (Department of American Studies, UNC Chapel Hill). Registered participants will receive an access code to watch the documentary for free.
The film I’m Not Racist… Am I? documents a racially and economically diverse group of remarkable teenagers and their families as they plunged into a year-long journey to get at the heart of racism. Consulting company Point Made Learning brings creative, story-based education to institutions and organizations that are serious about inclusion. They have delivered programs to countless schools and corporations around the country, and support those who are ready to start the conversation about racism and equity.
This event will be the first official event of the Asian American Center, a newly established university-wide center whose mission is to cultivate a critical understanding of Asian American peoples, cultures, and histories.
Barb Lee is the founder and President of both Point Made Films, a documentary film company that focuses on American identity, and Point Made Learning. She has dual degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she has volunteered in numerous leadership roles including Chair of the UNC Board of Visitors and Chair of ACRED (Alumni Committee on Racial and Ethnic Diversity). She is the 2015 recipient of UNC’s Alumni Diversity Award, the university’s highest honor for work in racial justice. She is also a trustee of the foundation board of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Dr. Michelle Robinson is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies, and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and Boston University. Her book Dreams for Dead Bodies: Blackness, Labor and the Corpus of Detective Fiction was published by University of Michigan Press in 2016. Her current research, titled “Come Tell Us How To Go To Heaven,” uses correspondence from Christian evangelicals to identify how epistolary intimacies and ideas about Christian fellowship shaped the career and social impact of the Reverend Billy Graham. She is also developing a new project titled, “Shadows Cast Things,” a study of race and sexuality in post-WW2 Hollywood cinema. She teaches on topics ranging from LGBTQ fiction and film to stand-up comedy to radical religious communities.
The second event in the series, scheduled for September 30, will feature a talk by Prof. Iyko Day (Mount Holyoke College), author of Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2016). Other planned events include a roundtable on Asian American hip hop including Profs. Candace Epps-Robertson (UNC Chapel Hill) and Nitasha Sharma (Northwestern) and a panel, “Rethinking the History of Alliance,” on the powerful but fraught history of U.S. Asian-Black political alliance, bringing together academics, activists, and community historians, including Prof. Ronald Williams (UNC Chapel Hill).
“We’re excited to bring so many diverse voices from different fields together,” says Kim. “It was important to us to put artists, academics, and community organizers in conversation.” Jo agrees, “The speakers and panelists will help us understand the issues of racism and race relations from multifaceted and transnational perspectives.”
All events will be open to the general public via Zoom webinar (requires free registration at go.unc.edu/alliance) in order to participate in Q&A. Events will also be livestreamed for additional participants. For dates, times, and registration/streaming details, see either https://aac.unc.edu or https://carolinaasiacenter.unc.edu
Co-sponsoring UNC organizations include the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, the Center for the Study of the American South, the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Community Engagement, and Social Sciences and Global Programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Heidi Kim
Asian American Center
Dr. Ji-Yeon Jo
Carolina Asia Center