Amherst College Associate Professor of American Studies, Robert Hayashi moderated a discussion with Helen Zia, activist, award-winning author, and former journalist on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Helen Zia

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Helen Zia is a writer, activist and Fulbright Scholar. She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, about the contemporary civil rights struggles of Asian Americans; her latest book, Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese who Fled Mao's Revolution, was an NPR best book of 2019 and shortlisted for a 2020 national PEN AMERICA award. An award-winning magazine journalist, she was the Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine, where her reporting on neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizations sparked new thinking on the relationship between race and gender in hate violence.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Helen has been outspoken on issues ranging from human rights to countering hate violence and homophobia. Her leadership in the landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence in the 1982 hate killing of Vincent Chin in Detroit has been documented in the Oscar-nominated film, "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" Helen has honorary doctorates from the University of San Francisco and the City University of New York Law School. She attended Princeton University on a full scholarship and was a member of its first graduating class of women. Helen quit medical school to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, until she discovered her life’s work as a journalist and writer. 

SOCIAL: @HelenZiaReal (FB, IG, Twitter);

Robert Hayashi

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Robert T. Hayashi is Associate Professor of American Studies at Amherst College. He is the author of Haunted by Waters: A Journey through Race and Place in the American West and has written about Japanese American incarceration, Asian American literature, and sports. His current research focuses on early Asian American sports history.