We could dwell on the contributions of the various cultures:
the ancient Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans; the seafaring
Polynesians, Micronesians, and Polynesians; the
steppe-wandering Mongolians. We could speak of the
contributions of the Chinese philosopher Kun-fu-tse; of the
military genius of Shogun Hideyoshi
Tokugawa; of the peaceful, political acumen of Ghandi; of
the saintly charity of Mother Theresa; of the grace and
beauty of Balinese dance; of the leadership of King
We could dwell on the contributions of contemporary
Americans of Asian and Pacific descent:
such as Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii, who brings his
experiences in the Second World War and his law background
to our Congress; such as his colleague, Senator Daniel
Akaka, a native Hawaiian, former pastor of Kawaiahao Church
in Honolulu; such as Astronaut Edison Onizuka, who
lost his life in the Challenger disaster, and who has, among
other things, a shuttle craft on Star Trek named for
him; such as Maya Lin, designer of the one-time
controversial Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, which has, since
its construction, become the most visited monument in
Washington, DC; such as Jessie Kuhailoa, better known
as Kunishiki, an American of Samoan ancestry, the first
non-Japanese to become a champion Sumo wrestler; such
as the late Dr. Haing Ngor, the Cambodian refugee physician,
who won an Academy Award for his almost autobiographical
performance in "The Killing Fields;" such as
Connie Chung, the Chinese-American newscaster on national
network television; osuch as Keanu Reeves, the movie
actor of Hawaiian, Chinese, and Caucasian ancestry;
such as Dr. Khurana, or Dr. Chandrashekar, two Americans of
Indian ancestry who won the Nobel Prizes in Biochemistry and
in Physics, respectively; and the examples continue –
Americans all, with their Asian or Pacific backgrounds.
But that is not why I am here today.
What each of us brings to the workplace and society, is one
person's unique combination of genetics, cultural
background, environment, and upbringing; which provides but
a single perspective, unique to each of us. Each individual
has a unique personal heritage to contribute.
Would you like to see a stunning
"Night At Earth" image?
As we observe Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month, we
take this opportunity to celebrate these specific cultures
and their contributions to diversity in our society; and
they are many and diverse in themselves: the Chinese, the
Japanese, the Korean, the Pilpino, the Thai, the Indian, the
Sri Lankan, the Singaporese, the Bangladeshi, the Hawaiian,
the Samoan, the Guamanian, the Micronesian.
And this list is by no means exhaustive of the various
cultures included as individuals of Asian and Pacific
But as I said earlier, we should celebrate how these various
cultures contribute to diversity and to richness in our
It is this interweaving of different peoples that results in
the richness and beauty of the tapestry of our nation.
Consider two examples of how this ethnic and cultural
diversity contributes to our society:
Maya Lin, the Asian American architect, who not only
designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, but also the
memorial to the great civil rights leader, the Reverend
Martin Luther King, in Montgomery, Alabama. The memorial is
a large, round, table shaped fountain in black stone. Water
gently pulses from its center, and quietly, but forcefully
and constantly spills over its edges, to flow out and
dissipate in the plaza surrounding it. This memorial was
designed by an Asian, trained in an American school of
design, to commemorate the memory of a great Black American.
More recently, there has been the phenomenal sports
celebrity, Tiger Woods, the "youngster" champion
of the professional golf circuit: he is a quarter Thai, a
quarter Chinese, a quarter Caucasian, an eighth Native
American, and an eighth Black.
As I look out into this audience, I also see this diversity
in the sea of different colored faces, each an individual,
together making up our family of society.
President Clinton, in his State of the Union message a
couple of years ago, stated, "Diversity is not our
weakness, it is our strength." And how right he is.
The Reverend Doctor Philip Wogaman, pastor of Foundry
Methodist Church in Washington, DC, the church where the
President, and I worship, said in a sermon recently,
"God made us different to enrich each other."
And international management and leadership consultant Lou
Tice observed: "Diversity in the workplace provides us
the opportunity to see what we can't see ourselves, from
And today, it is this blending and melding of heritage, this
diversity, that is at the same time transparent, and yet
very obvious, this diversity which is our strength and our
future, of which I speak.
Diversity in the workplace, whether it be gender, culture,
or race, has enormous power for a society and to help an
organization achieve its mission – with more
effectiveness, with more efficiency, with higher
It provides a true "value-added" to both
management and its mission, as well as to staff and the work
environment. It enhances an organization's
perspective. It enhances a society's perspective on issues,
and in doing so, multiplies its capabilities to plan,
organize, analyze, execute, and evaluate, through its
ability to provide more than a single perspective. It
provides for varying skills and experiences, from a gender
as well as an ethnic basis, to better understand issues, to
better address mission and achieve goals, to better
understand impact on varied populations. It provides
the rich pool of life experiences, cultures, knowledge,
skills, attitudes, that is the invaluable aggregate of
individuals, while at the same time acknowledging the
uniqueness of the person.
1. All-Day "Diversity Seminar" Program --
2. "Diversity Day" Presentation or Keynote Address --
3. "Black History" Presentation --
4. Dr. Freeman's African American History Collection --
5. Preview Online Diversity Course --
Flash Player needed to Preview Courses -- Download
6. Critical Incident Debriefing --
7. Symbols that Address Cultural Awareness --
8. Employee Assistant Seminars in DC Region --
It is the power of one, and it is the power of many.
We can and should celebrate the uniqueness of our several
cultures and heritage, but within the context of the whole
-- not only when we celebrate one culture as we do today,
but every day -- to embrace collaboration, to work with the
commonalities, as well as to emphasize the differences, to
achieve a seamless integration of the power of one. It is
not the aloneness, but the strength of culture, to utilize
the power of diversity, to provide our strength, both for
now and for the future.
Let me leave you with one tangible example – the power of
the tapestry of diversity.
You see the beauty of this piece of cloth as you look at the
whole fabric. It is strong, it is colorful, it is beautiful.
But the cloth is made up of many threads, interwoven
horizontally and vertically, the warp and the woof of the
fabric. Each thread is different, and of many hues and
The weaving of the cloth provides the strength, and the
capability to withstand adversity. Each strand supports each
other. The stronger threads provide body, and sustain and
assist the weaker ones. The thinner strands add delicacy and
beauty to the total fabric. Remove a single thread, the
cloth still remains, supported and sustained by the others.
The colors of the individual threads collaborate to produce
the pattern of beauty: the red, the black, the white, the
yellow; the blue, the green, the lavender, the orange. In
fact, when we see the tapestry, we do not see single colors,
but rather the blending of each into the integrated whole.
Unravel the weave; the tapestry ceases to exist. Without the
supportive interplay of the threads of different colors,
materials, textures, strengths, directions, all that remains
is a bundle of fibers with no meaning, no structure, no
beauty, no strength -- and no future.
We, too, must be like tapestry -- a strong, collaborative
interweaving of our various cultures and backgrounds, making
up our society.
Let us celebrate the cultures of Asians and Pacific descent;
let us celebrate the value of their contributions to our
Let us celebrate the seamless integration of the power of
the power of the threads of our American tapestry,
the power of the warp and the woof of the weave,
the power of many:
interwoven into our strength and our future;
interwoven, white and black and yellow and brown and red,
and all colors in
between, into our
"one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all."
want you to know how pleased we were with
your presentation, Diversity: The
Value of Mutual Respect, which was
presented at our Multicultural Training
Observance in Dallas, Texas on May 22, 2002.
who participated in both sessions of your
presentation were nearly unanimous in their
assessment of its relevance and value. Your
approach to viewing diversity as a
multi-layer phenomenon was unique. And your
ability to relate to a multi-racial,
multi-cultural and multi-generational
audience, and keep the participants
attentive throughout your presentation was a
major contributor to your success. A major
benefit of your presentation is it offered
to those in attendance a unique framework
for assessing their basic beliefs about
living and working in a multicultural
society, and provided us a point of
departure for additional discussions about
the benefits of mutual respect in the
workplace and the larger community.
am happy we were able to bring you to Dallas
as a part of our Multicultural Training
effort. Your presentation was the "meat
and potatoes" of what we regarded as a
very successful training.
Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Manager
learn more about seminar -- Diversity: The Value of
Schedule Dr. Freeman for Diversity Presentation
To View More References:
George's County Public Schools Equity Assurance Office
Seattle Port Authority
When we deal
specifically with Cultural Awareness,
we address eleven
Symbols that impact every organization.
Check out this unique video and half-day presentation.
North Dakota Connects to NOAA Diversity Lecture
of the Monthly Diversity Lecture Series, a group of
WFO Eastern North Dakota personnel participated in a
talk on by Joel Freeman entitled "Dealing with
People Who Drive You Crazy."
The talk took place live in Washington, D.C., for
NOAA Headquarters personnel and was viewed live over
the Internet via Real Player on the PDW in the
Training Room. The voice quality ranged from
good most of the time to a bit fuzzy at other
The talk was quite interesting, as the expert (Dr.
Joel Freeman) spoke about various personality types
that must interact in the work setting. We all
realize some of us are more "doers than
thinkers" and vice-versa. The point is that
each of us brings value into the workforce, although
each in a different way and further understanding of
these personality variables will increase each
person's and then the overall offices
He also spoke about differences relating to gender,
religious and ethnic backgrounds, age and others.
Again, further understanding of these differences in
the workplace will enable all of us to improve our
work place relationships and could all make us
"feel better" about our contributions to
the office and agency mission.
Speaking as an
By Frank Wu
“Yeah, and what do they do in China?”
Whenever I have had the
fortune to appear in a public forum offering my opinions on
a contentious subject, I receive calls, letters, and e-mail
messages from people who disagree vigorously and vehemently
with my perspective and my message. Although I enjoy the 15
minutes of fame, I am taken aback by a few of the responses.
They run along the lines of that rhetorical question about
China—a land from which my parents came but where I have
never been. My own mother tells me not be to too
controversial. She says, “It will be bad for your
Little does she know I’ve made a career out of being
controversial. She has a point though: To be respected as a
critic requires being accepted as a citizen.
Half the time I argue about immigration, I am met with the
objection that China wouldn’t make it easy for a Westerner
to become Chinese. The implication is that because
presumably a white person would not be welcomed in China, an
Asian person can be excluded from America.
When I argued for affirmative action against conservative
author Dinesh D’Souza, on the C-SPAN program “American
Perspectives,” I had the greatest exposure and the worst
reaction. Because the two-hour show taped from Brown
University in late 1997 was aired during the holiday season
and on New Year’s Day, viewers channel surfing cable
stations between the football bowl games saw the two of us
discussing the most racially divisive of current political
I made a modest case for affirmative action. I said that we
should start with the real problem of racial discrimination,
rather than so-called “reverse discrimination,” and ask
what we were prepared to do to address its effects. I
emphasized the importance of principled approaches to
remedying racial discrimination and pragmatic compromises
that would achieve real results. I described affirmative
action as a limited program, a means to an ends rather than
its own goal.
Still, I must have impressed a few in the audience—and not
favorably. I welcome controversy, but I prefer that it does
not become personal. The correspondence I received was about
two to one in my favor, but within the negative mail were
some warnings – one writer advised, “you’ll learn,”
and sent along material purporting to show that African
Americans were descended directly to apes, that Jews were
engaged in a global conspiracy, with information about white
supremacist Internet Web sites.
One of the dozens of hand-written letters I received
afterward, without a return address, opened with the inquiry
whether they had affirmative action in Japan.
I am tempted to reply, “How would I know?” Or with
perhaps with too much cleverness for my own good, I could
retort, “What does that have to do with the price of tea
My interlocutor deserves a more thorough answer though.
I don’t believe it is accidental, disapproving of the
opinions of individuals who are Asian by asking them about
their presumed ancestral homeland. With less sophistication
than the speaker supposes, it is an ad hominem attack in its
classic form. It has less to do with the substance of an
argument than the identity of the person advancing it.
I have heard the point put often enough as a direct taunt.
It comes as the heckler’s jeer, “If you don’t like it
here, then go home.”
The same sentiment can be presented as empathy. I have
listened to people explain to me, trying their patience as
much as mine, that they understand how I as an Asian
American may face discrimination here, because when they as
Americans were traveling as a tourists in China or Japan
they too felt prejudice.
As much as I value efforts at mutual understanding, even
this kindly person is offering up an analogy which is
frustratingly inappropriate. It shows what is wrong with the
way Asian Americans are perceived as well as the subtlety of
As a law professor, I help train people to argue from
analogy and distinguish among different cases. The proper
comparison to the treatment of a white American
overseas—where she is in fact a “foreigner”—is the
treatment of a non-white American overseas—where in fact I
am a “foreigner;” say, me in France. If the idea is to
match up the ancestral connections, then the most apt
comparison to the treatment of a white American in Asia is
the treatment of an Asian American in Europe. Incidentally,
a non-white United States citizen visiting “the
Continent” is likely to be accepted as a bona fide Yankee.
I am as able as my neighbor to be an “ugly American,” a
loud, rude, English-speaking tourist expecting to be catered
to. When I am outside the United States, it is readily
apparent to the rest of the civilized world where I come
If they are racist in Asia—and I am confident that some
segments of any society are “racist,” however the term
is defined—I regret that as much as any American. But it
serves as no excuse for racism against Asian Americans,
because it has virtually nothing to do with Asian Americans.
Maybe, I think, I should announce an obvious disclaimer.
Asian Americans can be racists too.
Every time I discuss race relations, whether on a radio
program or a college campus, no matter how hard I try to
take a tone that is conciliatory, someone challenges me by
asking what I have to say about Asian Americans who are
racists. I don’t know how to answer their rhetorical
Of course, some Asian Americans are racists—however we
define that term.
Just as is true of other communities, Asian Americans may
reveal their prejudices in private among themselves. They
might even exclaim it publicly and purposefully.
Some sound like they are Asian supremacy of some sort.
Others will talk about “the blacks” in a manner that
sounds like a disturbing echo of the Ku Klux Klan.
Confirming again that ethnic divisions can be drawn finer
than reason, a few Asian individuals will denigrate other
Asian groups: Japanese believing Koreans are inferior,
Indians hating Pakistanis, Mandarin-speaking Chinese mocking
Cantonese-speaking communities, and so on.
The possibility of intermarriage brings out the worst. When
their son or more likely daughter announces her engagement
to a “foreigner,” parents of the immigrant generation
may be more dismayed than the potential in-laws. Their
arguments—or commands—about the purity of bloodlines,
grandchildren who “look like us,” or filial piety may
appear archaic but they are no less painful for their
Asian Americans can be every bit as sexist and homophobic as
anyone else as well. Asian American parents may favor their
sons and mistreat their daughters so much that, as sensible
as it seems to the parents, appears absurd to observers.
They are as ready as blacks and whites to disown a child who
turns out to be gay or lesbian.
I should no more be expected to defend these people who have
nothing do with me other than their face resembling mine,
than blacks or whites should be asked to apologize for
demagogues of their respective racial heritage.
Nevertheless, I agree all of us who care about racial
justice must emphasize moral principles rather than our own
interests. So for once and for all, I will be clear as I
can: Asian Americans who mistreat other people on the basis
of their race are reprehensible—and all the more so, if
they criticize other people for returning the favor.
If Asian Americans are biased, then they should change. We
should not be satisfied to be reduced to the lowest common
denominator, along the lines of, “I’m racist; you’re
Every opportunity I am given, I denounce injustices
committed by Asian Americans. I try to persuade Asian
Americans that they are not only doing wrong to others in
the abstract, but also failing to help their own cause in
reality. They lose their claim against discrimination if
they engage in it.
The only difference is that when I am taking to task Asian
Americans, I usually do so to Asian Americans. I don’t
believe it helps Asian Americans improve if I persuade
non-Asian Americans of these points. It may only create a
backlash among Asian Americans. They become angry I am
“airing dirty laundry” instead of addressing the actual
Since I have been giving speeches for over half my life, I
don’t mind facing debating tactics. I worry, however, that
many Asian Americans are silenced—along with Jews,
Latinos, immigrants, and anyone else who somehow seems like
they don’t belong. They are treated like guests enjoying
the privileges of this country. They understand that they
are expected to remain polite.
So they keep their mouths shut, even though they as much of
a right as other citizens to take part in our political
process. Or if they speak up, they are looked at with some
sort of suspicion even if the next person voices similar
Stereotypes have a self-fulfilling quality. Stereotypes give
us images of other people, but they also give us scripts to
follow. It is easier for Asian Americans to sound exactly
like their stereotype, performing according to the script:
submissive, passive, agreeable, docile.
It is no surprise that Asian Americans feel excluded from
race matters. As D’Souza, the author of books such as The
End of Racism, observed privately when we debated initially,
it isn’t often that an Asian American is invited to
comment on civil rights, much less that two Asian Americans
are given the opportunity. As much as I disagree with
D’Souza’s opinions, I agree with him that more Asian
Americans should be offering their opinions. I also am
appalled that some of the criticism of his work opens with
the observation that he is from Bombay, or that he is
Catholic, or that he is an immigrant—and for a few
critiques, it don’t progress much further beyond that. I
am heartened that what happens to me extends to him as well.
Public discourse is the greatest of democratic traditions.
Whatever they do elsewhere, we should demand that everyone
think for themselves and we ought to encourage all of us to
share our thoughts. Ethnic newspapers such as AsianWeek are
part of a rich tradition of civic journalism. Even when the
popular press has forgotten or ignored its public
responsibilities, the more specialized media that serves a
community has maintained its role: watchdog; advocate;
spokesperson; forum; cheerleader; critic—all together,
with often contradictory goals and in a sometimes messy
Above all, however, Asian Americans must participate in the
dialogues of democracy. That is what it means to be an