‘I often think about race and identity, as well as all of the intersectionalities between them’

Bora Lee

This post is part of an ongoing series of student reflections on equity, diversity, and inclusion in public service.

Bora Lee (MPA Candidate 2018)

As a child of immigrants and a native New Yorker, I often think about race and identity, as well as all of the intersectionalities between them. I am aware—to a certain extent—of my privileges as an East Asian and native English speaker. That being said, as a woman of color, a minority, a first-generation American, and a product of public school education, I too struggle.

Because of the “Model Minority” Myth coined by sociologist William Peterson in the 1960s, I am wedged between being seen as a minority by my white peers but invalidated as a fellow minority with my black peers. The Myth essentially pitted Asians against other minority groups, disregarding the many Asians who were marginalized and disenfranchised, creating a blanket statement that all Asians are successful. I decided to take a class on race, identity, and inclusion with Professor Merle McGee to challenge those beliefs and my assumptions, with the hope to gain a better understanding of race in a historical and contemporary context.

The course allowed me to conceptualize the complexities of race in America. It also provided my classmates and me with a space for honest and thought-provoking dialogue. As part of the Executive Leadership Team at a social service nonprofit, an advocate for the immigrant community, and a minority woman, this class has empowered me to tackle the issues that my community faces with a racial equity lens. Overall, it has provided me the tools and added competence to be a better leader for my community.