Gangsters, Geeks & Geishas: A dialogue with Helen Zia

November 04, 2013

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Helen Zia

College Nine and College Ten Provost and CoCurricular Programs, and the Asian American/Pacific Islander Resource Center present:

Gangsters, Geeks & Geishas:
Asian Americans and the Challenges of Transformation

A dialogue with renowned scholar-activist Helen Zia

Tuesday, November 12, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Namaste Lounge, College Nine

What does it mean when entire ethnicities face invisibility, whether in San Quentin or Silicon Valley? Can Asian Americans and others move beyond stereotypes on our campuses, workplaces and communities, and into our full potential in America? How can today’s students use their voices as forces of transformation? Helen Zia will present on invisibility and stereotypes faced by Asian Americans, exploring voice as a tool of transformation.  She requests questions and participation from the audience.  All are welcome to this remarkable opportunity to engage with one of the most influential community leaders of our time. This event will be facilitated by Associate Professor Noriko Aso, History. Light refreshments to be provided.


Helen Zia is an award-winning journalist and scholar who has covered Asian American communities and social and political movements for decades. She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize.  

She is also co-author, with Wen Ho Lee, of My Country Versus Me, which reveals what happened to the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for China in the "worst case since the Rosenbergs."

Zia is former Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies. She was named one of the most influential Asian Americans of the decade by A. Magazine.

Zia has received numerous journalism awards for her ground-breaking stories; her investigation of date rape at the University of Michigan led to campus demonstrations and an overhaul of its policies, while her research on women who join neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations provoked new thinking on the relationship between race and gender violence in hate crimes.

A second generation Chinese American, Zia has been outspoken on issues ranging from civil rights and peace to women's rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. In 1997, she testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the racial impact of the news media. She traveled to Beijing in 1995 to the UN Fourth World Congress on Women as part of a journalists of color delegation. She has appeared in numerous news programs and films; her work on the 1980s Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is documented in the Academy Award nominated film, "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" and she was profiled in Bill Moyers' PBS documentary, "Becoming American: The Chinese Experience."

Zia received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law School of the City University of New York for bringing important matters of law and civil rights into public view. She is a graduate of Princeton University's first graduating class of women. She quit medical school after completing two years, then went to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life's work as a writer.

For more information/accommodations please contact jlawren2@ucsc.edu.