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Crossing East: Relations

Ellen Choy (right) Photo: Brooke Anderson Photography
Ellen Choy (right) Photo: Brooke Anderson Photography

Crossing East: Relations is a one-hour documentary special produced by Dmae Roberts, executive producer of MediaRites’ Crossing East series with Robynn Takayama and Alan Montecillo. The documentary addresses AAPIs and the Model Minority Myth and the historic relationship between AAPIs and African Americans. As part of a 10th anniversary celebration of the Peabody-winning radio series Crossing East, which aired on 230 public radio stations around the country we also gathered more than 200 hours of oral history recordings for the Crossing East Archive.

Featuring music by David Ornette Cherry.

– Listen to the full documentary on –

This Crossing East Archive and documentary project was made possible by….
And individual donors and supporters!
Special thanks to:
Ronni Lacroute
John and June Schumann.

More about the original radio documentary series here.

“For over a century, South Asians have been standing with African-America, African-America has been sending with South Asia, and the cultures of resistance that have come out of that are – it’s a very best part of our tradition…” Anirvan Chatterjee

Scot Nakagawa
Anirvan Chatterjee
Anirvan Chatterjee

Crossing East: Relations focuses on historic and contemporary relationships and conflicts between AAPIs and African Americans often forged by stereotypes fostered by the myth of the “Model Minority” as a way to suggest one racial group is more successful and should be modeled by other racial groups.

“In the 1960s this idea of Asian-Americans as the model minority is picked up by conservative media and by conservative politicians and is used as an argument for against civil rights for African-Americans basically and particularly not the idea of civil rights or legal inclusion but particularly programs to help to resolve the legacy of racial inequality faced by African-Americans in that period….” Scot Nakagawa

Interviews recorded by Crossing East producer Robynn Takayama in the Bay Area include:

Ellen Choy. Photo by Kiwi Illafonte
Ellen Choy. Photo by Kiwi Illafonte

“The idea about putting our bodies on the line is that we don’t think that it’s just the responsibility or the obligation of black folks to defend their communities and their lives. We understand that black liberation is intricately tied to the liberation of all of our peoples  and that we  as Asian folks we’re an interesting position where we also have experienced levels of oppression of people of color in the United States and abroad by the U.S. government and military…” Ellen Choy

Jo Ann Hardesty

“An uncomfortable conversation doesn’t have to be a disagreeable conversation. It can be one where it happens in stages, as people build comfort, as people build support, then you can move to the hard place. But change only comes in the uncomfortable spaces. And so you have to be willing to be uncomfortable to learn and to move forward….” Jo Ann Hardesty

Interviews recorded by Crossing East Executive producer Dmae Roberts and Alan Montecillo in Portland in collaboration with APANO’s Kara Carmosino. These include:

Helen Ying
Malkia Amala Cyril

“You know besides the economic divide that that that we would that we witness and experience right with Asian people being perceived as business owners. Right. And black people being perceived as welfare recipients. And that’s the relationship right that that emerge…We’re all tied together both in terms of our humanity but also in terms of our oppression. You know we got here together. And the only way we get out of here is together…” Malkia Cyril

Joseph Santos-Lyons
Joseph Santos-Lyons

Target Launch of Archive and Radio Documentary:

The one-hour documentary is available to public radio stations on

MediaRites launched the Crossing East Archive on June 24, 2017 at the Refugee Dreams Revisited event at IRCO, the Immigrant and Refugee Community of Oregon. The multimedia site will make the audio archive available to the public for educational purposes.

Please email us for more information. 

Radio Documentary Topics Include:

  • Archival predictions for America after the LA Riots when police officers were acquitted in the Rodney King beating in the 90s.
  • South Asian influences in the 20th century, especially the American Civil Rights Movement and Black support of Indian independence.
  • Model Minority Myth development and effects on the Black and Asian tension.
  • Development of Black Lives Matter Movement and Asians For Black Lives support.
  • Divisions between younger and older generations of AAPIs during the Peter Liang verdict on the shooting of Akai Gurley.

    David Ornette Cherry
    David Ornette Cherry
  • How young AAPIs address anti-blackness and work to support Black Lives Matter

Crossing East: Relations features music by Portland musician/composer David Ornette Cherry.  Hear more at