Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

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ÁCCENTED: Advancing the Plot, Community Organizing and Activism in AAPI Communities

Welcome to the sixth show of the 2021-2022 season of ÁCCENTED: Dialogues in Diaspora, presented by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN). This season, we will welcome a distinguished lineup of authors, artists, poets, cultural producers, and community organizers across the Southeast Asian diaspora.

This episode of ÁCCENTED will feature panelists Loan Thi Dao, Nghiep “Ke” Lam, and Nkauj Iab Yang. They will join Pulitzer-prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen in a conversation around community organizing and activism within the Asian American community. Titled “Advancing the Plot”, this show will revolve around the theme of Asian Americans being the main character of their own stories and how they can use their narrative to advocate for their communities.

This show is sponsored by the Surdna Foundation, the Asian American Research Center at UC Berkeley, The Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS) Program under the Ethnic Studies Department at UC Berkeley.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) to fully participate in this event, please contact Frederick Tran at with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.


Loan Thi Dao (she/her) is an Associate Professor and Director of Ethnic Studies at St. Mary’s College of California. She specializes in Southeast Asian refugee migration and community development, immigrant and refugee youth, social movements, and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). Dao has published on topics related to memory and war in cultural productions, Vietnamese American female leadership, undocumented AAPI activists, transnational activism, and Southeast Asian American deportation. Her recent publications include the book, Generation Rising: A New Politics of Southeast Asian American Activism (2020), “AAPIs and Immigrant Rights Today,” in Power of the People Won’t Stop: Legacy of the TWLF at UC Berkeley (2020),“Untold Stories, Unsung Heroes: Using Visual Narratives to Resist Historical Exclusion, Exoticization, and Gentrification in Boston Chinatown,” in Journal of Folklore and Education (2020), “Asian American Studies and the Fight for Worker Justice” in AAPI Nexus (2019), and co-editor of JSEAEA Special Issue: Voices from the Field: Centering Southeast Asian American through Policy, Practice, and Activism (2019). She teaches interdisciplinary ethnic studies courses, and her service has included leadership positions in student groups, cultural productions, diversity and inclusion initiatives and training, and immigrant rights and policy advocacy. She has served on boards of Southeast Asian American community organizations, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission, and as a Governor-appointed advisor to the Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants..

Nghiep “Ke” Lam is the Program and Facility Manager for Asian Prisoner Support Committee and a former juvenile lifer. He was incarcerated at the age of seventeen and served 23 years. He assists formerly incarcerated, i.e. API and “Stranded Deportees” with accessing resources (ID, Work Permit, Mentorship, etc.) in their transition back into society. He is also the Facility Manager to oversee the maintenance of the office. He is one of the Co-founder of the ROOTS program inside San Quentin State Prison. One of his passions is fixing bicycles and donating them to our system’s impacted communities.

Nkauj Iab Yang received her Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and pursued her Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University in 2012. Nkauj Iab has over a decade of community organizing and policy advocacy experiences. Through organizations including Youth Together, Banteay Srei, Serve The People, Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP), Nkauj Iab has created brave spaces for young people to organize, transform and realize their power to impact change. She served as the Director of California with the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) partnering with Southeast Asian led and serving organizations throughout California to advocate for access to services and resources and racial equity. In 2020, she served as a co-director with HIP where she developed an infrastructure to organize Southeast Asian youth in Sacramento and Fresno and oversaw HIP’s integrated Southeast Asian voter engagement work throughout California. Today, Nkauj Iab is the Executive Director of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, elevating the political and socioeconomic issues of Asian American, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islander communities in California by contributing to how state government addresses our needs and concerns.


The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures.

For over five generations, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John E. Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.

To learn more about the Surdna Foundation and their work, please visit their website:

Launched in 2020, the Asian American Research Center at UC Berkeley is a preeminent research center for the study of Asian Americans/Asian diasporas in national, hemispheric, and global contexts. It brings together a vibrant, innovative, and dynamic assemblage of scholars, researchers, policy-makers, community organizers, and cultural producers to address a multiplicity of interests and concerns. The Center works to raise public awareness of Asian American/diaspora issues and advance cutting-edge research, develop innovative curricula, and promote community-campus engagement.

The Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS) Program, one of the programs under the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of historical and contemporary experiences of Asian-ancestry groups in local, national, and global contexts. Asian American is a pan-ethnic term designating a racialized population made up of various groups of Asian ancestry, and encompassing both the foreign-born and the U.S.-born.

As initially constituted as a component of the emergent field of ethnic studies in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Asian American Studies program centered on domestic U.S. concerns. It continues to be part of a national activist effort to increase the political, economic and cultural representation of people of color in American life, more specifically, to improve the educational relevance and ethnic diversity of institutions of higher learning. However, the Asian American Studies program has also been responsive to the shifting geopolitical, economic and sociocultural forces most conveniently summed up by the term globalization, and is now increasingly attentive to issues of transnationality and diaspora while retaining its original commitment to community empowerment.

Reflecting the collective strengths of our faculty, our curriculum offers students a deeper understanding of the histories and contemporary realities of the different ethnic groups that comprise the “Asian American” category. Through classroom-based and experiential learning, our students engage with critical issues such as labor, migration, health, representation and cultural production, education, religion, class, gender, generation, law, public policy, and social activism.


VIET THANH NGUYEN is the author of The Sympathizer, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, The Refugees, Race and Resistance: Literature, Politics and Asian America, and Chicken of the Sea, written with his son Ellison. His most recent book is The Committed, the sequel to The Sympathizer.


PHILIP NGUYEN is the emcee for ÁCCENTED: Dialogues in Diaspora presented by the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN). He teaches Asian American Studies in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and is the Executive Director for the Vietnamese American Roundtable, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in San Jose, California. Philip serves as the President of the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA) and as the Co-Chair of the Young Vietnamese Americans (YVA) Committee for PIVOT – The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization.

For more information about the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network, please visit


Advancing the Plot, Community Organizing and Activism in AAPI Communities


Mar 24 2022
Event ended


6:00 pm - 7:00 pm




Online Event