NAAAP International Convention Speakers Tackle Tough Topics (Part 2 of 4)

Posted by Kayo Homma-Komori & filed under Leadership.

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What is needed to move Asian Canadians’ status from being part of the economic mainstream to being recognized as part of the social mainstream?

Marco Mo:

Lisa Strack (left)

Lisa Strack (left)

If you’re talking about recognition as defined by being a talking-head on TV, drive-time radio or regional politics, then it’s probably more a function of choice to pursue a particular career.  Perhaps a greater number of Canadian-born Asians tend towards more pragmatic career choices where overt social recognition is not a requirement or even a desired outcome.

Perhaps what is needed to move Canadian Asians to being more recognized as part of the social mainstream is to stop distinguishing ourselves as Canadian-Asians, and simply as Canadians with important things to say who just happen to be Asian.  I’d far prefer to be considered for the substance of my message than a check box on a census.

Lisa Strack: 

Asians to influence the decision makers or actually BE the decision makers = involved in what is focused on regarding mainstream media and culture. Essentially, I recommend securing Asian leaders in high level roles of large companies, and government positions.

Promotional photo for 'Asiansploitation Goes Deep' from June 2012 (James Cheng pictured in front right)

Promotional photo for ‘Asiansploitation Goes Deep’ from June 2012 (James Cheng pictured in front right)

James Cheng:

I’m so glad you asked.  I think about this a lot.  Canadian-born Asians need to firstly want to stop being invisible and drive the desire to be represented in media and culture.  This can be done by supporting and developing groups that want to share their voice with Canada.  Whether they be the sketch-comedy troupes Asiansploitation in Toronto, or Assaulted Fish in Vancouver, or emerging voices at Fu-gen, Kapisanan, Kollaboration, or the Fringe Festival, support the voices that you want to create:  bring your talents, whether they are creative, technical, or business-centric and help these organizations grow. And it’s not just Asian organizations that need support:  general organizations that represent the Canadian mainstream need to bring in Asian-Canadian voices and need to be encouraged to do so. This is our shared country and place in the world.  It’s time to personalize the world and make it what we want it to be.

David Lum:

More engagement!!!  We Canadian-/American-born Asians need to be more comfortable with being in the limelight and being more in any media.  In order to do that, we need to have more opportunities to be seen in highly visible media, including TV.  Radio is great, but it doesn’t show our faces.  We need more visuals so that North American society sees us as being a part of everyday society.

Byron Magno

Carlos Bulosan Theatre’s “The Romance of Magno Rubio” by Lonnie Carter, starring Jon De Leon, Nicco Lorenzo Garcia, Byron Abalos, Leonard Cervantes and Dean Vargas.

Byron Abalos:

First of all – Time. Canada is only 146 years old. Our borders only really opened up in the 70s so most of us are only first or second generation immigrants. Some Asian Canadians have been here for generations but demographically speaking, most of us haven’t been around all that long. It takes time to subvert the white hegemonic systems that our media was created upon. Secondly, we need more Asian Canadians in high-level business and creative positions. We need producers, directors, funders and decision makers that promote our own stories of our experiences. If we don’t tell our stories and push for our voice to be recognized, who will? […] There’s a lot of Asian Canadian talent out there. It’s hard enough being an artist. Imagine being an Asian artist with the disappointment of your parents! (Joke…kind of).

Teja Arboleda:

Harness media and politics. Better yet, harness media about politics. The truth is that ‘invisibility’ is not a crutch, it is a stealth super power. Let’s embrace it!

Susan Chuang: 

Canadian-born Asians need to be more proactive in promoting themselves and other Asian leaders in their respective communities. Perhaps Asians are too modest, not wanting to ‘stick out’ and thus, becoming unintentionally invisible. I think that NAAAP’s goals in leadership is one great example of how Asians can support each other,  educating and empowering Asians to ‘take our place’ in social mainstream.

Fabian De Rozario:

Exposure!  Positive exposure will help.  This means that Asians need to get out there and be seen and heard – in everything.  Take on civic leadership roles, and speak out.  Speak out and lead at rallies of mainstream issues – not just Asian community issues.

Next: On responding to racism in the workplace.

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