Kang’s dissertation explores the dialectical relation between societal discourses of race and racism and the conceptual understandings developed by youth of Korean heritage. Her research finds that, instead of completely appropriating or resisting dominant discourses (i.e., colorblindness, essentialism and the Black-White binary), students interact with them in complicated ways, as they negotiate between their own minoritized experiences/knowledge and broader societal discourses. By showing students’ agentic but still limited roles in shaping their perspectives on race and racism, her study challenges previous research focusing either on the limiting power of dominant discourses or on students’ resistance to master narratives.
Kang chose the focus of her dissertation when she observed race in the United States has typically been thought of in terms of the Black/White dualism, with Asians having no clear place in conversations about race and racism and even being portrayed as either “perpetual foreigners” or “the model minority.” However, as evidenced in the recent increase of anti-Asian racism during the double pandemic, Asians have been struggling with varying forms of racism.
“To help the next generation fight against racial inequality, I believe that it is important to unravel varying forms of racial discrimination facing not only African Americans but also other racial groups including Asian Americans,” she added. “Being committed to anti-racist education, I wanted to incorporate marginalized voices of Asian students into curricula and instruction and invite more educators to think about Asian students as active participants in the discussion of race and racism.”