Symposium Recap of “Self-Care, Challenges, Solidarity”
Asian American Women Leaders
Published: August 6, 2023
As part of the national celebration of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the San José State University iSchool hosted a free online symposium on May 26, 2023, titled “Self-Care, Challenges, Solidarity: Asian American Women Leaders.” The symposium opened with a warm welcome and brief story by Dr. Anthony Chow, followed by a presentation from co-keynote speakers, Annie Pho and Alanna Aiko Moore. Prior to their introductions, the speakers began with a land acknowledgment: “We’d like to start today with a land acknowledgment in recognizing that the Indigenous people, who are the original inhabitants of the land that all of us are on were dispossessed of their land through violence, through murder, through deceptive processes, and colonialism…and since land acknowledgments are often done without action, Annie and I have made a donation today to the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in support of the land that we are on.”
The speakers also provided terms that they would be using interchangeably throughout the symposium, specifically noting the different meanings behind “Asian American” and “AAPI.”
“The reason why we want to be intentional about our language is that sometimes people do use AAPI when they actually mean Asian American. That can inadvertently erase the experiences and expertise of Pacific Islanders and not necessarily engage them. So with that in mind, saying AAPI can also be a way of building solidarity between our communities and also, acknowledging that these communities, our communities, are very, very diverse.” - Pho, 2022-2023 APALA President, Head of Instruction and Outreach at the University of San Francisco Library
Throughout the keynote presentation, the speakers talked about how they approach leadership in the LIS, their experiences serving in the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA), the challenges that AAPI women face, as well as what it can mean to stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
“APALA is just one of six national associations of librarians of color…we work hard to support the other associations of librarians of color while acknowledging that different issues are going to impact each of our communities differently. We can still support our struggles. I also think it’s something to allude to something Annie said earlier within our own APALA umbrella, our own AAPI community. You know, we’re not a monolith. How can I stand with folks within our community who have different struggles than folks from East Asia? Or folks who have more privilege, like folks who are multiracial? How can we all work together towards anti-racism and dismantling white supremacy in our libraries? We are definitely stronger together than we are separately.” – Alanna Aiko Moore, APALA Executive Director, Head of Community Engagement and Inclusion, Librarian for Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego
After a quick Q&A session, the symposium moved on with a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Chow, featuring AANHPI leaders: Education and Narrative Change Program Officer at The Asian American Foundation Dr. Terry Park, WAVES Project Director Lily Chen, and 2021-2022 ALA President Patty Wong.
Below are some best practices as provided by the speakers during the symposium:
- Be aware that some books about AANHPI stories and/or featuring AANHPI characters may be stereotypical and portrayed negatively, even if it was written by an AANHPI author. Refer to the expertise of folks within those communities.
- The real movers and shakers come from grassroots community organizations. Encourage people in your library to reach out, collaborate, and harness those resources. Pass it along.
- Emphasize collaboration that moves away from individualism. Mental health is a big topic that needs more attention in AANHPI communities. It’s okay to cry, to be vulnerable, to be empathetic, to go to therapy.
- When creating programs or designing resources, be mindful of who you are targeting and how you approach your efforts. Be intentional when using terms such as “Asian American” or “AAPI,” as not all AANHPI community members necessarily have the same experiences.
- AANHPI history is intrinsically part of Black history, Latinx history, Native American history and LGBTQIA+ history. Histories cannot and are not segregated. Rather, they are deeply intertwined and intersectional.
To watch the full symposium, click here.