School of Arts and Sciences

Elaine Wong Distinguished Lecture Program

Portrait of Elaine Wong

Elaine Wong, Honoree of this Lecture Program

jason chu is on a stage with a microphone singing in front of a drum set

jason chu performing on stage. Permission of jason chu.

Black and white image of four children with raised left hands stand in front of a bus with many other children on it

Chinese American children waving from a car at picnic sponsored by the Chinese Ladies' Union Missionary Society, Calif., 1936. Wikimedia Commons.

Inaugural Elaine Wong Distinguished Lecture Program

Why It Is Not OK to Ask “Where Are You From?”: Racism and Asian American History

Friday, April 28, 2023 | 12:30 - 5:00 PM
Rapaporte Treasure Hall | Goldfarb-Farber Library
Registration Link to Attend in Person
Registration Link to Attend Remotely

This symposium explores the history of anti-Asian racism in the United States. With the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the United States discriminated against a specific race in its immigration and naturalization policies for the first time in its history. Chinese were viewed by White ethnics to be vile, infidels, uncultured, and unassimilable. These policies were not lifted until 1943, preventing countless Chinese from legally settling into the United States, after decades of using Chinese laborers to extract natural resources and build railroads. The racist sentiments became ingrained and created the impression of Chinese as the perpetual aliens in America. Similar policies were used against other Asian groups such as Japanese, Koreans, Southeast Asians, and Filipinos. Also notorious was the internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II. Asians and even Asian Americans born in the United States are too often asked “Where are you from?” “Where are you really from?” The scapegoating of Asians during the Covid pandemic is an extension of this alienage. This symposium brings together authoritative voices on Asian American representation in government, mass media, and the arts.

Honoree - Elaine Wong

Elaine began her career at Brandeis in August 1982 and has worked with nine deans during her tenure. From her early days, Elaine developed an enduring love for Brandeis, our students and our faculty. Over the decades, she was central to the creation and launch of many major programs and initiatives, including the Brandeis Pluralism Alliance, Generation One Network, Justice Brandeis Seminar, the Brandeis Core (the second of two general education revisions she was part of), and the newly proposed Community Engaged Scholars Program. She has contributed to numerous diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and maintained a keen focus on support for faculty teaching and the holistic undergraduate experience — inside and outside the classroom. She has also formed lasting relationships with many students that have continued long past graduation.

To honor and celebrate Elaine’s enduring impact on Brandeis, we have established the Elaine Wong Distinguished Lecture and Co-Curricular Fund. The fund will support lectures, panels and other co-curricular programs and events in the School of Arts and Sciences that explore racial, class, gender, sexual and other forms of injustice and inequality; showcase historically marginalized people and perspectives; and/or promote a diverse, inclusive environment. We invite you to contribute to this fund in Elaine’s honor. Please join us in thanking Elaine for her wisdom, compassion, commitment and extraordinary knowledge of all things Brandeis.

2023 Speakers

Portrait of Evelyn Yang
Evelyn Yang
Author, advocate, wife of former Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang

1 p.m.

AAPI Politics and Campaign Life

Portrait of Lori Kido Lopez
Lori Kido Lopez
Professor in Media and Cultural Studies and Director of the Asian American Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

2:10 p.m.

The Role of Media in Anti-Asian Racism and Asian American Activism

Portrait of jason chu
jason chu
Rapper, activist, educator

3:30 p.m.

Asian American Soul: Appropriation, Appreciation & Participation

Full Schedule

  • 12:30 PM - Opening Remarks by Dorothy Hodgson, Dean of Arts & Sciences and Aida Yuen Wong, Nathan Cummings and Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Professor in Fine Arts and Head of the Division of the Creative Arts
  • 1:00 PM - Lecture by Evelyn Yang followed by a Q&A session moderated by Prof. Xing Hang (Department of History)
  • 2:10 PM - Lecture by Lori Kido Lopez followed by a Q&A session moderated by Prof. Sandra Cha (International Business School)
  • 3:20 PM - 10-minute coffee break
  • 3:30 PM - Lecture by jason chu followed by a Q&A session moderated by Dr. LeManuel Bitsóí (Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)
  • 4:40 PM - Closing Remarks


The Inaugural Elaine Wong Distinguished Lecture Program is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences. Additional support is provided by the Department of Fine Arts, the International Business School, Asian American & Pacific Islander Studies, and East Asian Studies.