Friday, April 9, 2021
Lee Isaac Chung is the director of the film Minari, which both Kevin and Ming have discussed on this blog previously. The film is about Korean-American immigrants who move to Arkansas to start a farm growing Korean fruits and vegetables.
Chung recently spoke to Trevor Noah on The Daily Show about his film-making:
“We have to humanize ourselves constantly.”— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) April 9, 2021
Lee Isaac Chung explains the importance of telling simple stories from a minority perspective. pic.twitter.com/ehqWZ5OMSa
In the above clip, Noah notes: "Films like this ... connect people to the humanity of others who they may not have ever met or even known as human beings."
Chung responds that his film, Minari, was "meant to be a story about human beings." This, he notes, is a task many communities, including the Asian-American community, must take on: "we have to humanize ourselves constantly, show, I mean, that we're really human beings."
I was really struck by this exchange and thought it particularly relevant to our work as immprofs. That work is, I think, a big part of our jobs. We must humanize immigrants for our students. Sure, many who are drawn to immigration are immigrants themselves. But I've had numerous students who don't even know their family's immigrant origins; they've been in the U.S. for generations and have no idea where they came from. For this latter category of students, it's our job to humanize noncitizens in a real way. And thoughtful use of film clips can help us do that!