Advancing Racial Justice (Praxis II)
Praxis Fieldwork with the Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia
Semester: Fall 2022
Course Instructor: Darlyne Bailey
Field Site: Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia (KAAGP)
Field Supervisor: Denise Hellenbrand
We were partnered with the Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia. Essentially the KAAGP is an organization that reaches out to communities of Asian American people in and around Philadelphia. They take part in political advocacy and outreach initiatives with various
groups in Philly, and are now, with our help, working on social media to spread information on Asian American history in Philadelphia. We are also working with Make Us Visible PA through our field supervisor Denise Hellenbrand to advocate for the passing of PA House Bill 1917. This
is a bill that would amend the public school code to explicitly involve Asian-American history. Despite having the same overall goals our roles were extremely different. As a brief note for clarity for the rest of our presentation- AAPI is an acronym for Asian American and Pacific
Make us visible PA has allowed me to gain knowledge on a part of history that has been left out in the K-12 curriculum. Working with our Field Supervisor has created a humbling experience. I have learned to advocate for inclusion and diversity in different forms throughout the semester.
I’ve learned about the work that it takes to pass a bill at the state level; in this instance, a large grassroots organization bringing information and advocacy to representatives, and then continuing to work with the government. Currently Make Us Visible is trying to get enough
support to bring the bill to the floor. My part in this is gathering information about the representatives and the counties they work in. I’ve learned about how Pennsylvania is a bipartisan state and that we need both sides to pass this bill, and about how advocacy for all people helps everyone.
My job at the KAAGP was primarily in social media. I was responsible for making posts that the KAAGP and Make Us Visible could use to spread information on AAPI history in Philadelphia. Essentially I was to find small pockets of local history and report them in Instagram-friendly
infographics. I found in my work how far AAPI history went back in Philadelphia- and even the United States as a whole. I didn’t have any context on this demographic with schools acting like Asian immigration is an entirely modern phenomenon. I had no idea there were a deal of Asian
Americans who fought in the Civil War, nor that there were teams of Filipino doctors who returned to the United States to fight the Influenza Pandemic in 1918. I feel much more compelled to do my own learning on American history, rather than the white centered curriculums I’ve dealt with my whole life. And yes, I was not particularly competent in graphic
design at the beginning of this project. But I learned the nuances of a few programs and I’m proud of the work I created. My greatest takeaway, however, was learning to be more critical of my own education. Not everything I learned in high school and middle school should be taken at
face value, as our history classes have curriculums affected by political motives just as much as intellectual.