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DEI Spotlight Events - April 2022

Dr. Alexander Jun

“Why is it that every time we go and eat something, it takes the comfort out of me?”
Dr. Alexander Jun, “On Eating Discomfort Food”

Dr. Alexander JunBased on the disquieting, often exasperating meals he’s had with friends, “On Eating Discomfort Food” is professor and author Dr. Alexander Jun’s humorous, heartfelt response to the clumsy cultural overtures he’s been forced to address throughout his life. He discussed the impetus for his performance, as well as his thoughts on race and identity, in an interview with event coordinator Sherrene DeLong as part of the Office of DEI’s Spotlight Event series in person at, and in partnership with, the Manassas Campus on Wednesday, April 13th.

“After a while,” Dr. Jun said, “it’s not really about the food.”

And he used food as a starting point to delve into a larger examination of cultural identity and race. “Representation itself,” Dr. Jun said, “can often be problematic. Who gets to define what is considered good?”

The notion of being considered good is encapsulated in the “model minority myth” – the claim that has often appeared in media that Asian Americans are an ideal immigrant. This notion was in direct opposition, Dr. Jun said, to Black and Latino citizens and the directions in which they were going. But the glowing depictions of Asian Americans were only representative of a fraction of the population. Poverty and low-income rates among Asian Americans in New York and San Francisco were some of the highest in the nation, but this wasn’t in line with the prevailing narrative, and therefore ignored.

“How do we move beyond heroes and holidays,” he asked, “when we talk about diversity?”

Dr. Jun also took questions from the assembled students, faculty, and staff, and addressed what representation means in the college environment, how we can talk with those with whom we ideologically disagree, and what’s led to the rise of anti-Asian American hate crimes.

Dr. Alexander Jun is an educational researcher and equity scholar who has published extensively on issues of postsecondary education. He is author of a number of publications, including From Here to University: Access, Mobility, & Resilience Among Latino Youth, as well as three books in a series examining white supremacy, and served as Managing Editor for the Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Dr. Jun is also a former TEDx speaker and a former Global Fellow with the Center for Khmer Studies (CKS). He was an International Research Fellow with the National Centre of Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE) at Curtin University, and Scholar in Residence at Belmont University in 2018. He holds a Ph.D. in education policy from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He is currently Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Higher Education at Azusa Pacific University’s School of Behavior and Applied Sciences. He joined APU’s faculty after 15 years of service as a faculty member and administrator at the University of Southern California.

The event was recorded and is available to view. To watch a recording of this event (NOTE: this recording is only available for enrolled students and NOVA faculty and staff), visit https://online.nvcc.edu/videoservices/. Click Academic Resources, then SSO Login, log in, and scroll down to DEI-Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

NOVA’s Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is committed to advancing Inclusive Excellence and improving the well-being and success of all NOVA students, faculty, staff and the greater community. The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion works in collaboration with all aspects of the college community to elevate the acceptance of different ideas, values, beliefs, abilities and perspectives while also advancing equity as aligned with the College’s Mission and Strategic Plan and helping to create and sustain a more inclusive and accepting college community.

DEI Spotlight Events are held monthly. For information about other programs by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, please visit https://www.nvcc.edu/diversity, or contact Dr. Nathan Carter at nacarter@nvcc.edu.