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caption: From left to right, KUOW's On Asian America panelists: University of Washington professor Douglas Ishii, Eastern Oregon University professor Tabitha Espina, musician Joe Kye.
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From left to right, KUOW's On Asian America panelists: University of Washington professor Douglas Ishii, Eastern Oregon University professor Tabitha Espina, musician Joe Kye.
Credit: Credits, from left: Kristin Leong, courtesy photo, Joe Kye

What does it mean to be Asian in America? We're listening

A special statewide broadcast on Asian and Pacific Islander identities and experiences in America today.

For the past few weeks journalists, scholars, artists, and community members have come together to explore Asian and Pacific Islander identities and experiences in America today. This show is part four of this series.

Of course, there is no way any one conversation can completely represent the breadth and depth of our Asian and Pacific Islander identities and experiences. For that reason, our hope is that this conversation is just one of many to come, and we want your voice to be a part of the conversation.

If you'd like to share what being Asian in America today means to you, call and leave us a voicemail before the end of June. The number to call is 877-304-7190. Remember to tell us your name and where you’re calling from at the beginning. Your voice might be part of an upcoming story.

On Asian America is hosted by KUOW's Kristin Leong and presented in partnership by KUOW, Humanities Washington, Spokane Public Radio, and Northwest Public Broadcasting.

Join KUOW Thursday, June 17 at 6 p.m. PST for the replay of our June 15 broadcast. Host Kristin Leong and On Asian America special guests Dr. Tabitha Espina, Dr. Douglas S. Ishii and Joe Kye will take your questions and comments about the series live in the comments section. RSVP and find more information about this special YouTube Premier here.

Music from this hour was composed by Scott Buckley. The opening and closing instrumental is from I See In Color by our panelist Joe Kye and artist Austin Antoine. This hour was written and produced by KUOW’s Diana Opong and Kristin Leong. Sound design by Diana Opong.

Kristin Leong
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Kristin Leong is KUOW’s Community Engagement producer. She is the founder of RollCallProject.com, an international TED-Ed project humanizing the culture gaps separating students and teachers. Her portrait series HALF: Biracial + Bicultural in America was nominated for USA Today's Outstanding Academic & Intellectual Endeavor Award, and as a senior in college, The New York Times called her a “graduate already in the driver’s seat.” Her weekly newsletter ROCK PAPER RADIO recently launched a national multimedia project fueled by artists of color calling for Asian and Black solidarity. Leong is Chinese and white and originally from Honolulu, Hawaii.

caption: Joe Kye, Portland, Oregon-based musician, storyteller, and guest co-host for Speakers Forum's special On Asian America episode.
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Joe Kye, Portland, Oregon-based musician, storyteller, and guest co-host for Speakers Forum's special On Asian America episode.
Credit: Tom Huynh courtesy of Joe Kye

Joe Kye is a singer, composer, violinist-looper and TEDx speaker. Drawing upon his immigrant upbringing, Kye’s layered performances weave together storytelling and a unexpected mix of musical genres from classical to hip hop. His melodies, vocals, and narratives uplift and empower listeners, while exploring complex themes of Asian American identity. Kye has opened for Yo-Yo Ma, rapper Warren G, and senator Bernie Sanders; and he has been featured on NPR. Kye was born in Korea and was raised in Seattle.

caption: Eastern Oregon University Professor Tabitha Espina
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Eastern Oregon University Professor Tabitha Espina
Credit: courtesy of Tabitha Espina

Dr. Tabitha Espina is assistant professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Eastern Oregon University. She has published her work in College English, Composition Forum, Race and Pedagogy Journal, Asian Studies, Humanities Diliman, Pacific Asian Inquiry, Oregon Humanities, Humanities Washington and Micronesian Educator. She has presented throughout the continental U.S. and in eight countries. Espina is a third-generation Filipina proudly from Guam.

caption: University of Washington professor Douglas Ishii
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University of Washington professor Douglas Ishii
Credit: Kristin Leong

Dr. Douglas S. Ishii is assistant professor of Asian American Literature and Culture in the Department of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. He teaches and writes about the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and citizenship in North American literature and media by Black and Indigenous artists and other artists of color. Ishii’s forthcoming book, Something Real: Asian American Arts Activism and the Racialization of Sophistication, explores politicized Asian American arts activism from the Asian American Movement (1968–1977) to the present. He is a fourth-generation Japanese American who was raised on a fruit farm and is a recent arrival to Seattle.


A note from our host: Identity is a complex topic, and I welcome your feedback. You can email me at kleong@kuow.org and find me on Twitter @kristinleong. I also welcome your ideas for stories from our Asian communities that KUOW should look into next. Reach out. We're listening.

You can also submit feedback and questions about this story by emailing engage@kuow.org, leaving a voicemail at 206-221-1926, or texting the word “feedback” to 206-926-9955 to send a text.