Introducing Jennifer Ho: Dispatches from Asian America
I’m very pleased to be writing this inaugural post for the inaugural launching of ALIST. I’ve been asked by the ALIST editors to introduce myself to you (the reader) and to also describe a bit about what this column will focus on. So here goes.
Basic information about who I am:
I am an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and I teach classes in Asian American literature, contemporary American literature, and general American literature. I’m working on a book (my second) on racial ambiguity and Asian American culture. I am a transplanted Californian by way of New England (did my PhD at Boston University) and now find myself living in the South (well, that’s probably obvious since I did say that I teach in Chapel Hill).
Some not so basic information (or things you won’t find on my faculty web page):
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the suburban town of Hayward, home of Shasta soda. When I was a kid my family used to pick pumpkins in Half Moon Bay (that’s me sitting on the pumpkin holding a pumpkin—my cousin “J” is the cutie with the pony tails).
If I hadn’t gotten into a PhD program in English, I would have gone to a culinary academy (and sometimes I think I may just enroll in one someday). My special skill is that I can look in your pantry and refrigerator and whip up something fairly tasty. I love golf, my dog, my husband, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, irises, Yosemite, anything that YoYo Ma plays on his cello, the smell of eucalyptus, but most of all, I love FOOD!
In this column I will talk about different issues related to the politics of Asian American life (particularly how Asian Americans experience life as Asian Americans—how we are racialized as Asians in America and how we, as a racial group, interact with other races), and I will also highlight different Asian American leaders (past and present) and the ways that they have shaped this cultural space we call “Asian America.”
Some of my columns may be culled from my blog, Mixed Race America — I’d be happy to have you come check it out and to leave a comment, although I’m a bit more pseudonymous in that space—you’ll notice I refer to my husband as “Southern Man” and to UNC Chapel Hill as “Southern U.” As you will notice from both my blog and from this column, I have a passion for issues of social justice and for making Asian Americans more visible in American culture. I also believe that, as a community, it is important for Asian Americans to think of how we can be allies for other communities who have experienced oppression in the U.S.
I hope that this column will also be a venue to share my passion for empowering Asian Americans and to think about how Asian Americans can be anti-racist allies for ourselves and for others.