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Discussion 1: Asian American IdentityDiscussion 2: Beyond the Model Minority Myth
Experts Respond
The Experts
Quang BaoMitra KalitaSheryl LevartHelen ZiaMonami MaulikFranklin OdoRinku Sen

Click on each panelist's name or thumbnail to learn about them and to read their statement.

See how the experts responded to your questions in a roundtable discussion.

Submit A Question

Discussion 1: Asian American Identity

The term "Asian American" means many different things to many different people. For some, it describes a political identity; for others, a racial or cultural category. Some see it as self-defined and others view it as a label imposed by others. Moreover, the boundaries that define who or what counts as Asian American are constantly shifting and evolving, as people intermarry, as new immigrants arrive, or as perceptions, stereotypes and circumstances change. There's no consensus, so does that mean it isn't real?

How would you define Asian America?
What is the value of uniting under one name?

We've asked four panelists to write statements in response to the opening questions above. Click on each panelist's name to learn about them and to read their statements.


Quang Bao
Quang Bao was born in Can Tho, Vietnam, and grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. Since September, 1999, he has been Executive Director of The Asian American Writers' Workshop. His fiction, essays, and book reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals including The Boston Globe, The Threepenny Review, The New York Times, and The Asian American Literature Textbook (Chicago Press), and he co-edited a 508-page anthology, TAKE OUT: QUEER WRITING FROM ASIA PACIFIC AMERICA, a finalist for the 2002 Lambda Literary Foundation Award. He currently serves on the board of directors of New York Is Book Country, The National Book Awards, and Bloom magazine.

S. Mitra Kalita
S. Mitra Kalita is a general assignment reporter at The Washington Post. She is also the author of SUBURBAN SAHIBS: THREE IMMIGRANT FAMILIES AND THEIR PASSAGE FROM INDIA TO AMERICA (Rutgers University Press, 2003 and Penguin-India, 2004). In her previous position, she was a business reporter for New York City's Newsday, covering immigration and the economy. In the months following 9/11, she reported on the backlash faced by Arabs and South Asians in New York area. Mitra earned her BA in history and journalism from Rutgers University and a Master's degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Mitra is the recipient of many awards, including being named Young Journalist of the Year by the New York State Associated Press Association.

Sheryl Levart
Sheryl A. Levart serves as the publisher of FACE to FACE Press, an independent organization devoted to publishing works that explore the mixed race, interracial, transracial, and multicultural experience as well as giving voice to underrepresented writers. Sheryl holds an MA in cultural/media studies from New School University and is currently at work on several book projects, including THE 'OTHERING' OF WEN HO LEE and a cartoon series called ASIAN MAFIA QUEEN. Her writings have been featured in the Asian Pacific American Journal, Colorado Daily,, Interracial Voice, and Interrace Magazine.

Helen Zia
Helen Zia is the author of ASIAN AMERICAN DREAMS: THE EMERGENCE OF AN AMERICAN PEOPLE (FSG, 2000), which was a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, and co-author with WEN HO LEE OF MY COUNTRY VERSUS ME (Hyperion Books, 2002). A journalist for more than two decades, she is a Contributing Editor to Ms. Magazine, where she was formerly Executive Editor. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and broadcasts. She graduated from Princeton University in public and international affairs, and is a member of its first graduating class of women.

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