It’s been tough in America during the last six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the pandemic there is a national sense of divisiveness as well as a lot of talk about race and other sensitive topics.
In order to provide a platform for students to engage in these discussions while still following COVID-19 protocols laid out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Asian Culture Center has started its “Over a Cup of Tea” event series in a virtual setting.
The first event in the series occured on October 14th. Last week, thethe group discussed inherent racism inherent racism within health care, especially for women of color, as well as the importance of togetherness between both the Asian and Black communities.
Kevin Czachura, a graduate assistant at the ACC, attended his first “Over a Cup of Tea” event this past Wednesday. He liked learning more about the struggles of the two minority groups from the diverse and knowledgeable presenters.
“I really enjoyed the event,” Czachura said. “I think it makes these touchy, sensitive subjects more accessible.”
The panel included Jaclyn Dean, a policy manager at the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. She works in Washington, D.C., on promoting policy that will help women in minority communities receive proper and fair health care.
She discussed necessary changes in public policy in Washington and why the issue of racism in health care is critical.
“There’s clear statistics on this issue that showcase its relevance,” Dean said. “That’s why it’s extremely important to try and educate others on this topic through conversations like these.”
Dean also gave some historical context surrounding the relationship between the Asian and Black communities. She said there has been tension throughout the years, but that in the end both groups have been victims of white supremacy. Additionally, she recognized that the Black community has aided the Asian population by leading by example.
“Asian activist groups have benefitted from Black activist groups many times in this country’s history,” Dean said. “They’ve been a source of inspiration and a template for how to fight injustice.”
Rory James, the director of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion at IU and an administrator of the IU School of Public Health, also spoke at the event. James talked about the importance of fair and equal health care, as well as encouraging the Asian and Black communities to come together and fight for the most vulnerable.
“The key word I always go back to is solidarity,” James said. “I think we have to acknowledge that there's tension in the community sometimes, but also we have to acknowledge that we can move forward and grow as two groups together.”
James said the attendance for the event was impressive for what they have been used to, claiming that the number of students in attendence was at least 20.
“We understand that students are on Zoom for a majority of the day and that can be overwhelming, but to make these conversations possible is what we strive for,” James said.
The Asian Culture Center, has events taking place every week. IU students can access these events and the corresponding schedule through the Office of First Year Experiences Programs app.