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ECAASU 2010: Racebending.com Recap

March 18, 2010

Written on Saturday, March 6th – on the flight from Philly to LAX.

On the plane to ECAASU 2010 - repping for the west coast

We’re back from ECAASU 2010! It’s been a crazy twenty-six hours. Dariane and I left our apartment at 4:45AM Friday morning, arrived in Philly at 4:30PM local time, and took off back for Los Angeles at 6PM Saturday night.

 

Racebending at ECAASU 2010: The Summary

UPenn Campus, ECAASU 2010

Twelve hours in the air, six hours catching sleep, one night on the town around UPenn, and Racebending.com’s first two academic workshops have officially come and gone. We want to thank Jessica Kim and the rest of the ECAASU organizers for inviting us out. It was a really memorable experience.

We met a lot of amazing people at this 1300+ attendee conference. We handed out several hundred fliers (special thanks to Mrs. Deborah Condon for her generous donation for both printing and design!). We also gave out all one hundred Aang pins (special thanks to Ryan Suda for lending us his facility/materials to hand-stamp the pins!).

Racebending’s workshop sessions were both standing-room only and we want to personally thank every single person who came out to see us. We hope you learned something about the history of Hollywood bias and the effect of media on American children.

We also had a chance to hang out with Jeff Yang and Jerry Ma of Secret Identities. As ECAASU veterans, they provided us with a lot of great advice and are just overall great guys to be around. Their panel was engaging and pulled a lot of interaction from a crowded, enthusiastic room: everyone wanted a chance to contribute to the modern conception of Asian American superheroes. If you haven’t already, check out our cross-promotion with SI.

And for you west coast folks who want to see us in person, we’ll be attending the San Francisco WonderCon on April 2nd through 4th. You can find us at our fan table near Artists’ Alley. We’ll have pins, shirts, wristbands, and much more! Please come by and say hello.

 

Racebending at ECAASU 2010: The Whole Story

Racebending.com Staffers Meet for the First Time

Checking out UPenn was exciting for us because we’d never been to Philadelphia before. It was also the first chance we had to meet Racebending.com co-creator Lorraine Sammy and staffer Jordan White. Registration wasn’t open when we arrived, so we headed out in search of a philly cheesesteak. Lorraine mysteriously chose salad instead.

Lori Chooses Salad over Philly Cheesesteak

I also got to try Yuengling porter – apparently a popular brand on the east coast. It was inferior in every way to Oregon Black Butte.

By the time we’d finished and returned to campus, it was time for opening ceremonies. All the speakers were amazing, but the highlight was definitely hearing Helen Zia’s talk on the history of Asian American activism, from the murder of Vincent Chin to the struggle of the LGBT community to find acceptance among minority advocacy groups.

It was inspiring and humbling to hear from someone who had accomplished so much. Change, she told us, is never easy. But it’s needed. It’s worth it. She told us about all the detractors of activist work in the wake of anti-Asian violence in the eighties, including Vincent Chin’s murder (days before his wedding day) by disgruntled autoworkers.

Helen Zia - Activist

She spoke about all those who were afraid to rock the boat, who wondered if Mr. Chin didn’t “have it coming” somehow. If she was able to stand up to individuals like that and truly make a difference, then future activists – who have the benefit of all the hard work of past generations, who stand on the shoulders of giants – cannot waver in carrying on the legacy.

The Asian American talent showcased on-stage was impressive as well. We loved the Pan-Asian Dance Group’s fusion of traditional Filipino tinikling with modern dance. Hari Kondabolu killed it with his hard-hitting comedic take on growing up brown in America.

And somehow Dariane and I traveled three thousand miles from California just to watch San Diego group afterschoolspecial bring the house down in Philly. Unfortunately, we had to duck out of the ceremony early to pick up our registration, but judging by what we saw in the first half, the attendees were treated to a wholly remarkable experience.

After registering, Jordan and Lori took off to recharge for the next day’s events. Dariane and I met up with Secret Identities’ art director Jerry Ma and his associate Ray Chow. We hit up the bars and talked about the nature of Asian American conferences, the need for Asian American representation, and drinking in Thailand.

Secret Identities at ECAASU 2010

We managed almost a full six hours’ sleep before snagging bagels at the conference and rehearsing our presentation. We caught the Secret Identities panel, which packed the room. After the panel, Secret Identities donated some of their table space for us to sell shirts and distribute fliers and buttons, so Dariane manned the table and fielded discussions with conference attendees.

After the facilitator lunch, we set up our workshop and waited for attendees to arrive. We were nervous that we’d be presenting to ourselves, but by the time we kicked off at 2:15, every seat was taken – including extra chairs we “borrowed” from neighboring rooms. Jordan recorded the event online, Dariane took pictures, and I handled the first presentation. After that, Dariane and I grabbed our stuff and headed to the airport for California, while Lori and Jordan presented the second session – again, to a room filled to capacity.

For Jordan’s recap, please check out the livejournal.

ECAASU 2010 Racebending workshop

Overall, it was a fantastic experience. We always love meeting people who are part of the movement – and we want to meet even more of you next month at WonderCon in San Francisco.

Categories: Community, Featured

About the Author

Mike Le is the Media Liaison for Racebending. A native-born Californian, he objects to shoveling snow and is a strong proponent of pollo asado fries. Mike has been interviewed about media diversity by dozens of news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, BBC Radio, and Public Radio International.

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