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Helen Zia Discusses Asian American Heritage and Representation with UT Community

The groundbreaking author and award-winning activist, Helen Zia, held a virtual conversation with the University of Tennessee community and the general public about Asian American culture in today’s society. As an outspoken the daughter of Chinese immigrants, Zia has played a key role been a key figure in the Asian American movement. 

The event held on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 was hosted by the Office of Asia Engagement and Chinese Heritage Working Group to celebrate the AAPI Cultural Heritage Month in May. Over 160 people attended the virtual event, featuring a Q and A session from audience members. 

Zia elaborated on the change of Asian representation in the US and how to navigate around the intense US and China relations. 

“You have to know your rights, there are organizations out there that have guidelines to help educate Chinese researchers and businesses…There have been many false accusations made a part of the anti-Asian hate and racism going on right now in the country, so it is important to stayed informed because this is a big part of what’s going on today.” Said Zia.

A popular topic throughout Wednesday’s event discussed how Asian Americans fit in an American society, highlighting identity and breaking stereotypes.

“Identity and where we fit, are two crucial areas for Asian Americans. We do not choose to be invisible but in American history and society, you rarely see real information about Asian Americans,” added Zia. “This democracy is based on equality and justice and we need to use all of the voices we have and stand up on it, insists on it, and to hold our institutions and governments accountable.”

There was an emphasis on the need for change and the need to stand up and speak out. Zia shared that breaking away from the wrong assumptions and questioning injustices are the first steps in fixing invisibility throughout the AAPI community. 

The event concluded with an emphasis on solidarity by recognizing monumental leaders in AAPI history who endured great challenge and resistance to break down barriers. 

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