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Rogers holds employee equity event to raise awareness of issues affecting Asian American and Pacific Islander population

06/14/21 10:25:am

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month, Rogers hosted a system-wide educational event that highlights some of the history and challenges these groups have faced and continue to experience. The event was hosted by Rogers’ Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion team with the help of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Employee Resource Group (ERG).

Care advocate Jolynn Carriveau, a BIPOC ERG leader, shared examples of the microaggressions she experienced growing up as an adoptee from Korea. Whether it was assumptions people made based on stereotyping or outright insults, she has plenty of stories. “I was taught growing up to be the bigger person, take the high road, and ignore the kids who teased me, ignore the biased gestures and comments, don’t feed into it, it will eventually go away. Well, I grew up, but it never went away,” she laments.

Jolynn reminds us that assigning stereotypes to Asians – even if they are based on seemingly positive characteristics – is not productive. She encourages all of us with some advice:

“To provide optimal healthcare services to people of color, it is absolutely necessary to understand that for people of color, our experiences, no matter who we are or how successful we are, automatically come with the experience of microaggressions, stereotyping, prejudice, and especially for AAPI, xenophobia, but still, we rise.”

Also fighting stereotypes, Baldwin Chiu, film producer and hip-hop artist, and Larissa Lam, film director and TV/radio host, talked about issues affecting Asian Americans and shared what inspired them to produce a documentary and ongoing podcasts on this topic. Chiu talked about growing up feeling “not American enough and not Asian enough.” They remind us that “Each individual has an individual experience.” Though his family has been in the U.S. for five generations, he says they are often treated as “perpetual foreigners.”

They encouraged Rogers employees to learn about history including hurtful parts of our past like the Chinese Exclusion Act, which in 1882 systematically discriminated by not allowing the hiring of people of Chinese descent. Another historical example is AAPI populations being denied citizenship and the right to marry and own land, as well as being required to follow Jim Crow laws including school segregation.

In addition to the speeches, the AAPI celebration included a historical account of the creation of AAPI Month by Lauren Mascari, pre-doctoral psychology intern; an announcement about a new ERG for Veterans; as well as a Land Acknowledgment shared by Derrick Jordan, vice president, operations, Brown Deer and executive sponsor of the BIPOC ERG.

Vonne Perry, Rogers therapist, offered a call to action with specific suggestions including speaking out if you witness hate crimes, supporting Asian businesses, learning how to pronounce names correctly, showing AAPI groups they are seen, learning history, and spreading awareness.

Karen Nelson, director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, gave the welcome address and says, “What should be a time of celebration, this year has been marred with violence toward Asian Americans, which has grown in the past year and continues to rise at an alarming rate. As difficult as it is to process these events with the frequency and severity they appear in the news, we wanted to shift the narrative to educate all on the marginalization that even the so-called ‘model minority’ have experienced for years in our country.

"There is no such thing as a good stereotype. Generalizing an entire race in a label is wrong. To our Asian colleagues – we see you, we love you, and you belong at Rogers!”

You can view the full recording of the AAPI celebration below or by visiting the event page on Rogers Connect.

Watch for more multicultural events, including the next virtual system-wide events:

  • PRIDE MONTH: attend a virtual event on June 29
  • JUNETEENTH: attend virtual event on June 17 and wear colors on June 18

And, please visit the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion page on Rogers Connect.

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