China Institute

The Contemporary Importance of Asian American History: Bridging Past and Present

Saturday, June 26, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm



Presenter: Dr. Phillip Hutchison, Department of Asian American Studies, CSUN

A Short Introduction: “The past is never dead. It's not even past.”  I would like to share moments in Asian American history that help us understand the roots of the forever foreigner and model minority stereotypes, especially as they continue to affect Asian Americans today.  History will remain the primary focus of the talk.

A Short biography: Dr. Hutchison has been teaching in CSUN’s Asian American Studies department since 2003, primarily teaching courses in Asian American legal and political history. Dr. Hutchison also teaches with the Educational Opportunity Program, and first started working with them in various capacities in 1997 and have been teaching with their transitional programs since 2006. Dr. Hutchison received his B.A. in Asian American Studies and Chicano Studies from CSUN in 2000, and his M.A. in Asian American studies from UCLA in 2002, and his Ph.D. in Cultural Studies from George Mason University in 2011.

Recommended books for Asian American history:

  • Scott Kurashige, The Shifting Grounds of Race: Black and Japanese Americans in the Making of Multiethnic Los Angeles.
  • Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture
  • Daryl Maeda, Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America.
  • Helen Heran Jun, Race for Citizenship: Black Orientalism and Asian Uplift from Pre-Emancipation to Neoliberal America.

This event is sponsored by CSUN China Institute, the University Library, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the local community organization CHEER ( It is free and open to the public.


Lecture Recording


A poem by one student co-panelist, Amanda Zhou


Qun Zhong- Community


It’s qun as in the group of people marching the streets,

their footsteps trailing along miles, shaking the ground,

carrying hand written signs,

crying for justice, crying for peace,

crying for the lives lost, the lives taken by a single bullet

shot by a hateful man.


It’s qun as in a delicately woven skirt,

elegantly designed to cover past the knee,

but with a sophisticated slit amidst

the flowing silk red waves,

worn across the country during cultural festivals.

Not as in the qun whose pattern was copied

to be served as an exotic look for the foreigners,

to be styled as a 4-inch long skirt,

to be matched with chopsticks in the hair,

to be discarded without a second thought,

and without a single ounce of understanding.


It’s qun as in retreating from the spotlight, fueling the model minority myth

the myth that groups millions of Asians under one title

to choke the voice we have until it becomes hoarse

and the words that finally croak out are unheard.

The myth that creates the narrative subconsciously built in society,

commanding our oppression, persuading us to just stay quiet.

The myth that turned us from the scapegoat in the 20th century

for the millions of crimes committed,

for the countless jobs stolen,

for the filth that swallowed the streets,

To the scapegoat in the 21st century

for the millions of lives lost,

for the countless shops closed,

for the filth that flies through the air.


It’s zhong as in planting crops in the backyard facing scorching summer heat,

plowing each inch of soil individually over and over for the right texture

to scatter the seeds around and carefully mark the locations of each

to take the extra compost of leftover meals and grind them into a fine fertilizer

to build handmade wooden racks for the crops to lean on

to systematically sprinkle water over the baby sprouts, waiting for it to grow.

So at last, when the sprouts flourish into bundles of harvest,

the cherished crops can be sent to neighbors and to friends

as a gift of thanks

and a token of love.


It’s zhong as in the full crowd on the night of Chinese New Year,

seated together in a theater,

waiting for the gala performance to begin.

Then seeing their daughter or grandchildren from far away,

gliding across the stage to a traditional Chinese folk song,

bringing pride to their grandmother’s face.

Performance after performance, the audience

stares in awe of the majestic piano performance,

erupts in laughter from the comedic dialogue,

and marvels at the wushu routines,

until finally, the clock strikes 12 and everyone harmoniously cheers

新年快乐, happy New Year!

As the children race for red pocket money

and bow towards their elders.


Qun zhong as in community,

the community whose culture I share as a second generation immigrant,

the culture that I proudly practice,

the practices that are ridiculed among others.

But this community has been suffering and bleeding

from name calling to violent hate crimes,

yet expected to be weak and submissive.

But this community has other limbs,

the limbs that have been amputated from racial tensions-

the other minorities who have been discriminated against.

But the limbs can be reconnected once against,

sewn together, suture after suture

to restore the standing body to fight as one.