BLACC Co-Chair and ASiA members present during Community Flex Time


Printed with permission of Natalie Chan '23

Members of Asian Students in Action (ASiA) and Black Leadership and Culture Club (BLACC) Co-Chair and Diversity Coordinator Yutopia Essex present history and celebrations about Lunar New Year and Black History Month.

Fallon Dern

Members of Asian Students in Action (ASiA) and Black Leadership and Culture Club (BLACC) Co-Chair and Diversity Coordinator Yutopia Essex presented history and celebrations about Lunar New Year and Black History Month during the school’s Community Flex Time on Feb. 11.

For the first half of the Community Flex Time, Essex spoke about Black History Month.

Essex began the presentation by sharing the significance of Black History Month. She said our collective history is so remarkable that separation by race and month would diminish it.

“Black history is American history,” Essex said. “Black people and our ancestors are a part of the very fabric and foundation of this country. However, this is a time to honor Blackness in the hopes that our culture, contributions and brilliance will be valued and resonate as a part of what makes America great.”

Essex also previewed events scheduled for the month of February, such as a lunch for faculty and staff Feb. 16 and the next Community Flex Time, which will focus on Black excellence and what Black history means to the community.

Essex closed with a poem she said she wrote when thinking of students and all that has happened this year.

“We must reflect each other’s humanity to be great,” Essex said. “We can’t keep making the same mistakes.”

ASiA members honored the Asian American victims of recent hate crimes and spoke about the Asian American identity.

Following the poem, ASiA Club co-leaders Mia Shelton ’21, Chelsea Cho ’21, Iris Huang ’21 and Kimberly Wang ’21 shared information about the Asian American experience.

Before introducing the club’s Lunar New Year video, Cho addressed six recent hate crimes against Asian Americans in the country.

Within the last week, Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, died after being pushed into the street by a teenage boy, three elderly Asian Americans, 91, 60, 61, were attacked outside of Oakland’s Asian Resource Center, Noel Quintana, 61, was slashed with a box cutter on a New York subway while no one defended him and a Vietnamese grandmother, 64, was beaten and robbed after withdrawing money from the bank for her family’s Lunar New Year celebrations.

Cho said sharing both tragic stories and celebratory memories should promote deeper cultural learning. Shelton agreed and said that in the celebration of identity, it is essential to protect these identities as well.

“We wanted to highlight these stories before our presentation because identity is such a beautiful thing, but for so many people it is also a source of distress because of the accompanying discrimination and violence,” Shelton said.

Printed with permission of Natalie Chan ’23

The club co-leaders then shared a video of ASiA members celebrating Lunar New Year.

Leading up to the Lunar New Year video, Huang and Wang shared that these Lunar New Year traditions and experiences are diverse but are not representative of the entire Asian population.

“We want to highlight the beauty of differences in these various cultures and identities,” Huang said. “Because of this diversity, we want to emphasize that our video does not speak to a universal experience.”

The video featured 28 students and five faculty members, sharing traditions, anecdotes and baby photos. South Asian Students Alliance (SASA) co-leaders Mohona Ganguly ’21 and News Section Editor Tanisha Gunby ’21 shared how the holiday is celebrated in India, Science Teacher Richard Vo shared stories and photos of how he celebrates Lunar New Year and Math Teacher Derric Chien concluded the video with a brief lesson about calculating what someone’s zodiac animal is.

Cho reflected on what the community can gain from the presentation, and how it reflects ASiA’s goals of promoting deeper understanding of the Asian American identity.

“I hope that people will learn something new about an Asian American experience, which will then help our community break down stereotypical understandings of Asian Americans as a monolithic community,” Cho said. “I also think it’s really impactful that we’re sharing this Flex Time with Essex’s poetry about Black history. It’s a really great opportunity for us and our community to learn about and support each other’s goals.”