• Article
  • Apr 13 2021

Chef, Activist, Alum Dan Wu to Give Talk on Impact of Systemic Racism on Asians, Asian Americans

Alumnus Dan Wu is a popular chef and the founder of Atomic Ramen. The community activist's family moved to Lexington when he was in sixth grade. Photo by Jenny Wells-Hosley.

The University of Kentucky Office of China Initiatives (OCI) is hosting UK art studio alumnus Dan Wu, founder of Atomic Ramen and community activist, to discuss the effects of systemic racism and white supremacy on Asians and Asian Americans at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 14.

Wu’s talk, “Yellow Peril to Model Minority: How Systemic Racism & White Supremacy has Kept Asians Quiet & Controlled in America,” will take place in person at Room 121 in the Jacobs Science Building and via Zoom for those interested in joining virtually. George Wright, UK’s interim vice president for institutional diversity, will deliver brief remarks before Wu’s talk. After, in-person and virtual attendees will be able to ask questions and participate in a discussion with Wu. 

If interested in attending this free event in-person, please remember to wear a mask and follow social distancing protocols. For those interested in attending online, please follow this Zoom link: https://uky.zoom.us/j/88677602964.

“Asian Americans have been seen as the ‘model minority’ for the past 40+ years,” Wu wrote in a recent op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We’re supposed to be smart, hard-working, quiet, subservient. We’re not supposed to make waves ... For many of us, we adopted all the trappings of whiteness as we slipped through the cracks of a racist society. But this safety and acceptance is an illusion.”

Having come to the U.S. as a child, Wu is intimately familiar with the Asian American immigrant experience and is an advocate for small business owners, immigrants, refugees and social justice in all its forms.

“As an Asian American, I’ve been somewhat inured to the daily microaggressions and small acts of casual racism encountered by folks like me,” Wu wrote. “As someone in the hospitality industry, I work within the confines of the power dynamics of the server and the served. Most times I cannot call out that racism and othering. We suck it up and we go on.”

Huajing Maske, executive director of UK’s OCI, said she was inspired to bring Wu to campus after reading his Herald Leader article and hearing him speak at “A Vigil and Space to Speak Out Against Anti-Asian Hate,” which took place at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse on March 27.

“The answer to racism is never more racism,” Maske said. “It is solidarity. We need to actively strengthen our coalition between our AAPI community and other marginalized communities so we can collectively fight and dismantle discrimination and prejudice in our country.”

Maske added that it is vital to educate on the history of racism. “No matter whether racism is directed toward the Black community or the Asian community or other marginalized communities, it is racism that stems from the same root cause.” 

Wu’s talk is the centerpiece of OCI’s celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. While May marks the official celebration of AAPI heritage, OCI is celebrating early to ensure UK faculty, staff and students can participate before the semester ends.

OCI will also host other speakers and events throughout April to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month including Wang Hebei, senior researcher at the Palace Museum who will speak on April 23 about Imperial Costumes of the Qing Dynasty from the Palace Museum. The Asian American Book Club also plans to meet in April or early May to discuss Cathy Park Hong’s book "Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning."

For more information about OCI or Dan Wu’s talk contact Huajing Maske at huajing.maske@uky.edu