My brother Martin and I were fortunate to be interviewed earlier this week on NRW (Nerds Rule the World) about our new comic which my brother illustrates and I provide a bulk of the content. Check it out here. It’s a way for me to translate what I study and research into a form that is more publicly accessible.
My awesome graduate student, Christine Wu, successfully defended her dissertation this week! Her research examined how Asian Americans in romantic relationships with White partners navigate and talk about racial and ethnic differences in their lives. Christine is completing her predoctoral internship at the Mpls VA and will heading off this fall to begin as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Dept of Psychology at Oberlin College. Congratulations, Christine! We will miss you but are excited for your bright future!
Christine with Goldy Gopher and her dissertation committee members: Moin Syed, Jeff Simpson, Teresa Swartz, and me!
Toward the start of the pandemic, the college approached me about a video story of my research and teaching. Like everyone else, I was tired and overworked but agreed to do it. I asked though that we somehow feature my dad as much as possible. It took a while but the final video was released this week. It is a long piece but I think it really does capture much of what I try to do every day as a faculty member in the Department. If you have 38 minutes to spare, watch the video! You also can read snippets of the transcripts on the website too.
Forgot that I was interviewed about this topic by the local newspaper – Star Tribune. We still have lots of data to analyze on this topic. Hopefully, the fog is lifting for us all as the vaccination rate increases.
Quote from the article:
Psychology professor Richard Lee was in the midst of a longitudinal study on mental health in students, staff and faculty at the university. In April 2020, he and his colleagues shifted to tracking well-being during the pandemic, adding questions specifically about mental acuity. Up to 20% of respondents reported a drop in clarity of thinking.
“They self-report about having a harder time focusing, communicating, concentrating and staying motivated,” he said about study participants. “They talk about a lack of enthusiasm, trudging through the day. COVID brain fog is just starting to be documented in the literature, but it’s a real thing.”
Lee and his collaborators plan to eventually submit their findings for publication in a scholarly journal. In the meantime, they have made presentations to administrators at the university.
“Symptoms of forgetfulness and a slowdown in thought-processing speed have huge implications for students, but this is also a factor in the workforce of the knowledge economy,” he said.
“With brain fog, there could be more errors or difficulties getting things done on time. Employers may have to adjust performance standards. They will have to consider whether to be gracious or to penalize people who can’t hold to the same standards as before.”
I missed being able to attend this all-day training on decolonizing psychology but it is available to watch for free on YouTube! Six hours of training!
I have been quiet on this lab page for a while because so much racial trauma has occurred over the last few weeks both in the Twin Cities and in our country. But I did want to share this research study led by Carrie DuBose who completed this mixed-method study as part of her Undergraduate Research Opportunity Project (UROP). Carrie worked closely with my graduate student, Vanessa Anyanso. It could not be a more timely project. Congratulations on a wonderful UROP research project, Carrie!
Listen to and view her poster presentation here — https://ugresearch.umn.edu/symposium/presenters2021/Carrie-DuBose
Police Violence and the Mental Health of Black Americans: A Within-Group Analysis
In 2017, Black Americans were disproportionately represented in police killings in the U.S. Research has demonstrated that police violence negatively impacts mental health, and Black Americans worry more about police violence than other races. Black is a broad racial category, and Black Americans vary in sociopolitical and historical background, which impacts ethnic/racial identity (ERI) and experiences with discrimination. This mixed methods study examined perceptions of police and the effect of police violence on the mental health of 20 Black Americans from four ethnic backgrounds: Black/African American, East African, Biracial/Multiracial, and West African. Quantitative results showed no significant differences in perception of police or worry about police violence; however, thematic analyses demonstrated variation in type of and response to worry, and trends between groups in mental and physical distress after the police killing of George Floyd. Biracial/Multiracial participants reported significantly more emotional distress than all other groups, attributing their symptoms in part to loss of social support. These results suggest that wellbeing is significantly impacted by worry about police violence, though the contributing factors and responses vary slightly by group.
Was invited to speak on a SiriusXM radio program called About Our Kids about anti-Asian racism, including the recent Atlanta shooting of 8 people (6 of whom were Asian American women) by a White man, and my research on Asian immigration families, racial discrimination, and ethnic-racial socialization. You can listen to a rebroadcast on SiriusXM here. Unlike past interviews and podcasts, I finally broke down and bought a podcast microphone which hopefully gave me the perfect radio voice 🙂
It will be rebroadcast today, Friday at 7 pm and 11 pm and again on Sunday at 3 am and 9 am and Monday at 9 am. During the pandemic, it looks like all shows on Doctor Radio will be free here. You can also go to the On Demand Service: www.siriusxm.com/OnDemand and search for “About Our Kids” or “Child Psych”. It will live on the system for about 5 weeks after the broadcast, and is uploaded within 48/72 hours after the LIVE program.
Also, check out my brother Martin’s new comic strip which I mention at the end of the interview — TheOtherOnesByLee — or follow it on Instagram.
Here is the story in comic strip form that I shared during the interview. Comic art is a wonderful medium to reach children and youth to talk about difficult issues around race and racism.
I write this email without knowing really where to begin beyond sharing sadness, anger, fear, and a conviction to not step back, not sit down, not defend, and not stay quiet. As we slowly recover from the pandemic, the racism and xenophobia in this country continues to persist, exacerbated by the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, and then yesterday the mass shooting in Atlanta of 8 people (6 of whom were Asian American women) by another White man.
I call on all of you as members of the SRCD Asian Caucus and/or as colleagues within SRCD to take an affirmative and openly public stand against anti-Asian hate and violence not in isolation but in solidarity with the ongoing hate and violence against the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, immigrant, and sexual/gender minority communities.
There is so much more work to be done with educating ourselves, our colleagues, and our students, as well as children, youth, and families in the community, on systemic and structural racism, intentionally working to dismantle these systems and structures, and building solidarity across racial lines. Tomorrow, there is a US Congressional Hearing on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. I urge everyone to watch it on Thursday, March 18th, at 10 am EST. Here is a video link to view live. People can also read and distribute the Stop AAPI Hate National Report which was released on 3/16/21. At a minimum, we must educate ourselves and support ongoing national and local efforts to end racism and racist violence.
As advocates for children and youth, we must acknowledge, prepare, and address student fears of returning to school and whether schools are prepared for anti-Asian rhetoric and racism. It is imperative for schools and universities to make statements letting students and families know that this issue is seen, recognized, and that future steps will be taken—even it is unclear at this point what those preventative measures are.
We also must encourage family, friends, students, and community members to report anti-Asian hate so we can document these racist incidents and make visible what is far too often made invisible. Widely distribute the Stop AAPI Hate online reporting tool.
Finally, I ask that we allow ourselves space and time to reach out to others who may be needing more comfort and support, check in with students (grad and undergrad) who may not have the right words to process all that is happening today, and talk with family and friends so we can begin to truly address issues of justice.
For my class today, I am going to set aside the lesson plan and address the ongoing racism in this country.
Richard M Lee, PhD
Chair, SRCD Asian Caucus
I was recently interviewed by VICE for a piece on “flyover” country. It was not really something I am an expert in but they reporter wanted to know specifically about how immigrant and minority youth turn to the internet to find connections. I’m never fully satisfied with how my quotes come out but glad to be a part of this discussion nonetheless.
“Historically in the U.S., there has been a strong push to assimilate—meaning a push to become white,” Lee said. “Now we’re at a place where this new generation is not as pressured or bound by that because you could be watching a YouTube show of some kid in another country. Or you can watch your Korean dramas on Netflix—none of that was accessible before. It’s as if you don’t have to be embarrassed or hide that facet.”
It’s been a while since my last post. Today, a colleague at another institution, another Korean American scholar, sent me this video link. It is a speech given a couple years ago by Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko and Free Food for Millionaires. I really appreciated her thoughtfulness to send it to me and resonated deeply with the speech. The quote above (I wrote it for you. I wrote it for us) is a great reminder for why we need to study communities of color, immigrant communities, communities whose voices and whose lives are overlooked.