UNCP to host Tommy Lee Woon discussion on anti-Asian violence

Tommy Lee Woon

As part of UNC Pembroke’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Tommy Lee Woon will discuss historical and contemporary violence against Asians in the United States. The event will take place on April 20 in a virtual setting at 3 p.m. The link to attend is available at uncp.edu/aapi.

During his 90-minute presentation and discussion, Woon will provide a personal and intimate view of early physical and political violence against Chinese who were excluded and lived in fear as illegals from 1875 to 1943. He will also provide a brief history and analysis of the causes of anti-Asian violence and an antidote for anti-Asian racism and violence. The presentation is titled “Creating A World of Feeling and Seeing No Strange: An Antidote for Anti-Asian Racism and Violence.”

Woon is a descendant of Chinese immigrants and sojourners who arrived in the United States after enacting the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882–a federal law that prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States. He grew up in a Black-Asian neighborhood and was very connected to ancestors who lived in the historical San Francisco Chinatown.

A product of the Asian American Movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, Woon was an activist in college who attended Vietnam war protests. He helped establish a community impact Asian American Studies program at the University of California, Davis. He was the first person appointed as an assistant dean and director of Asian American affairs at Oberlin College in 1987.

No stranger to higher education, Woon worked in dean-level multicultural affairs and education positions at several universities and taught emotional self-care classes at Stanford and Dartmouth medical schools. Most recently, he was a chief diversity and inclusion officer at Naropa University.

As a first-generation and low-income college student with English as his second language, Woon attended a community college and transferred to the University of California, Davis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He then earned a master’s degree in counseling from California State University, Sacramento. Woon is also certified by Stanford University Medical School as a Compassion Cultivation Meditation teacher and is trained as a Somatic Experiencing trauma healer.

UNCP’s Director of Student Inclusion and Diversity Dr. Lawrence Locklear highlighted the significance of Woon’s presentation when he stated, “Tommy Woon joining our Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration is incredibly timely given recent events exposing the long history of violence toward Asian and Asian Americans.” He continued, “BraveNation is committed to raising awareness and providing educational opportunities about these issues to ensure our campus community is inclusive and advancing equity for all.”

Woon’s presentation is sponsored by the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity, Campus Engagement and Leadership and the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Committee.

For more information about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at UNC Pembroke, please visit uncp.edu/aapi or contact the Office of Student Inclusion and Diversity at 910.521.6508 or osid@uncp.edu.