On Saturday, May 14, Thank God For Mondays host, Brother Greg Cellini, interviewed Dr. Monica Burnette and Dr. KC Choi about diversity, equity and inclusion, and Islander Heritage Month. Pacific Asian Americans (AAPI). Thank God For Monday is the weekly talk show on WSOU that airs for 30 minutes every Saturday at 8:30 a.m. EST. Launched in 2006, Thank God For Monday is aimed at students and adults who want to improve their professional life. The show also covers topics such as diversity, equity and inclusion, gender inequality, and other critical workplace issues.
Dr. Monica Burnette is Vice President of Student Services. In her role, she manages the areas of academic success, campus and community inclusion, public safety and security, student engagement and central administration, and well-being. -being and student support. Dr. Burnette is co-chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, the Student Success Council and the Health Interventions Communications Team. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the College of Education and Human Services.
Dr. Ki Joo (KC) Choi is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religion and Co-Head of the Minor in Medical Humanities. Dr. Choi is a theological ethicist specializing in Catholic and Protestant (ecumenical) moral theology, Jonathan Edwards ethics, aesthetics (art theory), political morality of race and ethnicity, as well as than Asian American theology and ethics. He is the author of Disciplined by Race: Theological Ethics and the Problem of Asian American Identity (Cascade Books, 2019), the first major critical and constructive interpretation of Asian American racial experiences by a theologian.
AAPI Heritage Month, recognized each May, celebrates the accomplishments of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. AAPI encompasses all Asian continents and the Pacific islands of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Dr. Burnette explained that “AAPI Heritage Month is about recognizing, acknowledging, empowering and inspiring. It is important to recognize the complicated history of AAPI members in this country. From immigration to exclusion to activism and civic participation, it is important to recognize AAPI communities for their struggles but also their achievements and contributions.”
Dr. Choi shared his thoughts on the importance of AAPI representation: “In our popular culture, there are a lot of misperceptions of who Asian Americans are…so representation is really, really important as a way to resist. and to complicate the kinds of stereotypical mannerisms that Asian Americans are commonly understood or identified with.” He added that “the more Asian Americans are able to make themselves visible in all the diversity of our community, the more important it is to change the way our popular culture sees us and understands who we are.”
Dr Burnette added that depicting the AAPI is essential, “first and foremost for developing empathy, which offers people the ability to see and feel things from someone else’s perspective. ‘other”. She notes, however, that “being AAPI, like other cultures, doesn’t mean a thing. To represent is also to show the multiple dimensions of a culture. Often, when there are AAPI actors in film or television, they are portrayed the same – they are perpetual strangers (with accents), martial arts experts or [seen as] “model minorities”. Generalizing all AAPI members to be the same, or putting them in a box, continues to make us feel “other”.
Drs. Burnette and Choi also discussed how community members can promote diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and beyond. Dr. Burnette noted that “the first step is education – learning and understanding the historical roots of racism, not only against AAPI members, but against all groups, while raising awareness is important”. She shared that this is “a critical time for the AAPI community to build solidarity, encourage and create safe and courageous spaces to share stories and support all marginalized groups. We must promote being advocates and allies and speak out and stand up against hate, violence and xenophobia Take advantage of campus resources focused on mental health, anti-racism and bystander education And learn about your friends [and colleagues] to make sure they’re okay.”
Dr. Choi noted: “The past few years have been difficult times not just because of COVID, but because of the violence and racism that Asian Americans have generally been subjected to….and experienced…it’s easy to feel angry and resentful or to feel [and reside in] negative emotions. The task is to figure out how to transform these negative emotions into constructive actions. It requires reaching out to fellow AAPI members and the wider community, building bridges and standing with each other, living in solidarity, and finding ways to uplift our communities. .”
Dr. Burnette and Dr. Choi encouraged students, faculty, staff, and administrators to learn more about AAPI Heritage Month through the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion website, weekly and monthly emails, and opportunities of training. There are also several resources in the Seton Hall University Libraries. To learn more about AAPI Heritage Month, please email the website visit or email [email protected]
Seton Hall is also proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of the upcoming South Orange Maplewood (SOMA) Heritage of Asian American Pacific Islanders (HAPI) Festival on SSaturday, May 21 at 10 a.m. at The Woodland in Maplewood, NJ.
Listen to the entire TGFM-AAPI Edition podcast here!
Tags: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Campus Life, Student Life, Student Services, AAPI Heritage Month