DMP Podcast, Episode 8: “Those Woke [Asian American] Kids,” Activism & Interracial Solidarity: A Conversation with Dr. K. James Cho

Episode 8

In this episode, Dr. Amanda R. Martinez and Ashley Ip, member of the Asian American Initiative, interview Dr. James Cho about his dissertation research featuring Asian American youth activism and hashtags over the last six years to track discourse and language for interracial solidarity with other communities of color. Cho interrogates how, why and who is empowered to do activism work among the vastly heterogeneous Asian American youth population. Their identities are often conflated by those who ascribe to simplistic attributes based on society’s racial order and consequently associate Asian Americans with otherness and civic ostracism. Intersectionality lends insight to interpreting such microaggressive experiences including class-based migration patterns and politicized identity intentionality amidst shifting identity labels in a charged socio-political time. He finds that the Asian Americans participating in on and offline activism help disrupt the model minority and perpetual foreigner stereotypes while disaggregating other monolithic categories rooted in white supremacy as a system and racial triangulation that functionally pits groups of color against one another. Dr. Cho urges us to take hashtag activism seriously as a means through which both online and in person community solidarity manifests and can be paired with existing movements, such as the #AsiansforBlackLives hashtag or the work that the Committee Against Asian American Violence in NYC does on the ground. Lastly, he discusses strategies to address microaggressions including when and whether to do so.

K. James Cho (Ph.D, Texas A&M University) (he/him) is an instructor in Communication Studies and Graphic Design at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. His research interests focus on Asian Americans and media. His doctoral dissertation examined how Asian American participants in hashtag activism construct their identities in interracial solidarity discourse on Twitter. He has also produced and hosted a podcast on race in Bryan-College Station and co-produced, directed, and edited a feature length documentary film on the life of Randy Wilson, a local community theater legend and Broadway alum.

Dr. James Cho

Resource Recommendations from Dr. Cho:

  1. Chou, R. and Feagin, J. (2015). The Myth of the Model Minority: Asian Americans Facing Racism. London: Paradigm Publishers.
  2. Wu, F. H. (2002). Where are you really from? Asian Americans and the Perpetual Foreigner Syndrome. Civil Rights Journal, 6(1), 14-22.
  3. Asian Americans PBS series:
  4. The scholar mentioned toward the end of the podcast is Ruha Benjamin. She mentioned in her book, Race After Technology, the example of racial bias in the spirometer. She cited this medical article: