Asian-American poet shares experiences growing up in America

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By: Sophia Bates, Contributing Writer

Psychotherapist Sam Louie educated audience members about the challenges Asian-Americans face growing up in America, and the history of Asian-American immigration and racism, during his “Slanted Eyes: The Asian American Experience.” seminar on Oct. 20.

“This [seminar] just started when I graduated from grad school as a means to educate other therapists to help understand Asian clients,” Louie said. “It was a way to help them understand history and the cultural nuances for various Asian ethnicities, and some of the issues they may deal with more specifically.”

For sophomore Brady Meixsell, the seminar provided opportunities to fulfill a class requirement, while also being a good topic to recognize.

“For my family studies class, we have to come to a seminar and relate it to family resource management,” Meixsell said. “So I thought this would be a good topic on the Asian-American experience in the United States, and what they go through.”

Louie opened the seminar with his first spoken-word piece “Living in White America,” using racial slurs, humor and description to recount his personal experiences as an Asian-American growing up.

“I look different, they call me names, I ask why: Is my skin to blame?” Louie said in the piece to open up the history of the experience.

Louie discussed migration patterns of various Asian ethnic groups, describing them as “waves.”

To show Asian-American stereotypes in media, Louie showed a variety of movie clips including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “China Doll,Full Metal Jacket” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.”   

The presentation included two other spoken-word pieces by Louie, “The Face of Fu Manchu,” and “What Kind of Asian are You,” to accompany the section regarding stereotypes in Asian-American culture.

“I think the poetry was great,” said junior Colby Russell. “It had comic relief, it was about his own experiences, and in some cases, it was a slap to the face. He mentioned some of the jokes that were highly offensive racial slurs and it’s all the way these affect ways of life and people’s experiences.”

Louie and some students concluded that the seminar is necessary in the culture here, due to a general misunderstanding from the public.

Russell, who is a women’s studies and mass communication major studying public relations, tries to learn about helping marginalized people and hopes to teach others the same.

“In my women and gender studies classes, I learn about new perspectives a lot, and try to utilize it as a tool to better my own knowledge and help those that are oppressed,” Russell said.

Louie sees the importance in spreading the message to a younger generation.

“I have done a few in universities and libraries, but I would like to move to a younger age as well, like high school or middle school,” Louie said. “There is so much education or lack thereof Asian-American history because it’s not a part of the American history courses.”

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