By Candice Chen
WGBH TV/Radio hosted its annual Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage celebration on May 22, which featured an excerpt from the documentary “The Grace Lee Project,” followed by a panel discussion.
“The Grace Lee Project” was directed by award-winning Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee. Lee grew up in Missouri and found other Asian-American women who shared her name. By filming these women and recording the stereotypes they faced, Lee did an unscientific but clever investigation on the “Grace Lee” persona.
The documentary challenges cultural categorizations. Liz Cheng, general manager of WGBH and event moderator, said the documentary was impressive. “The Grace Lee Project” will be aired in late June and early July.
WGBH also invited Karen Young, founder and director of Genki Spark, and Allistair Mallilin, executive director of Asian American Resource workshop, to be panelists on their Asian American experiences.
Young grew up in California. She said it wasn’t until college that she realized her differences as an Asian.
“I struggled to be Asian American,” Young said. As it is difficult for people forget ethnicity, she believed Asian Americans should know themselves first.
In 2010, Young founded Genki Spark, a pan-Asian women’s arts and advocacy troupe which practices taiko drumming. Young said she wants to change people’s perception of Asians and Asian women.
Mallilin shared he went through a cultural identity experience similar to Young’s in his college years.
Mallilin is a Filipino-American raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He said he went to Chinatown for a meeting once and found all the people around him were Asian. Growing up in a white neighborhood and seeing so many people who looked the same as him, he felt uncomfortable but empowered.
After graduating from college, Mallilin devoted himself to community service. Now, he and his workshop help empower Asians in American society.
“We need to build our own voice in the community,” Mallilin said.
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