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Multicultural and global educator Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng will engage artist, slam poet, filmmaker and author Kip Fulbeck as part of the Japanese American National Museum’s on-going series, “Conversations”, in a special ticketed presentation set for Saturday, June 12, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Tateuchi Democracy Forum. Tickets are $15 for National Museum members and $20 for non-members.
Soetoro-Ng, who is currently an education specialist at the East West Center which promotes cooperation and exchange between the United States and Asia, has spent her career developing humanities curriculum for alternative public and private schools in New York City and Honolulu and conducting teacher training workshops in the U.S. and Indonesia. A lecturer in the University of Hawaii's College of Education from 2000 to 2006, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii in international comparative education. Soetoro-Ng is also known as President Barack Obama’s maternal half-sister, having been born and raised in Indonesia and educated in Hawai`i. She
campaigned for her older brother during the 2008 Presidential election.
Fulbeck, an award-winning artist, performer, and professor of art at the University of California, Santa Barbara, created the current National Museum exhibition, Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Kids by Kip Fulbeck, featuring over 70 framed photographic images of children of multiple racial heritage and their statements or drawings. Fulbeck also created a book under the same title as the exhibition and is known as a leading artist and filmmaker on the subject of mixed race identity. He maintains a number of on-going projects, including the Web site, http://thehapaproject.com/. He also developed the extremely popular 2006 National Museum exhibition, kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa, which drew thousands of visitors.
Soetoro-Ng, whose father is Indonesian, wrote the foreword to Fulbeck’s book. In it, she explains, “There are advantages and disadvantages to being mixed. On one hand, mixed kids have an expanded worldview; on the other hand, they may feel torn by divided loyalties. I envied those around me who had a clear community. There is great value in seeing ourselves reflected in others and knowing that there is some shared experience between us and others ‘out there.’ “
Actress Amy Hill will moderate the conversation. Hill, whose mother was Japanese, has worked steadily over the years in films, television and stage. She had a prominent role in the film “50 First Dates” and regularly voices characters in animated series such as King of the Hill, American Dad and Lilo and Stitch. She will be heard in the upcoming Nickelodeon series Kung Fu Panda and recently made a pilot for HBO, co-starring Laura Dern.
“The Japanese American National Museum is very proud to help bring together Maya Soetoro-Ng and Kip Fulbeck,” stated Akemi Kikumura Yano, President & CEO of the National Museum. “As the 2000 Census made clear, there is a growing population with multi-cultural, multi-ethnic backgrounds. Both Kip and Maya have been at the forefront in articulating their experiences and the National Museum is pleased to have them discuss their lives in our Tateuchi Democracy Forum.”
This event includes the presentation of the Loving Prize by the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival (which takes place at the National Museum on Sunday, June 13, beginning at 11 a.m.). The Loving Prize is named in honor of the June 12, 1967 Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia, in which the remaining anti-miscegenation laws in 16 states, which banned marriages between the races, were finally struck down. Several groups and organizations now commemorate that landmark case by celebrating June 12 as Loving Day.
The Loving Prize, established in 2008, is awarded annually to outstanding artists, storytellers and community leaders for inspirational dedication to celebrating and illuminating the Mixed racial and cultural experience. Previous honorees include Kip Fulbeck, James McBride, Angela Nissel and Maria P.P. Root. The award will be presented prior to the Kip Fulbeck-Maya Soetoro-Ng program. For more information on the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, go to mxroots.org.
“Conversations” is an on-going series for the National Museum that brings together distinguished and accomplished individuals and provides the opportunity for them to share their experiences and points-of-view on a variety of subjects. The series was inaugurated last year with former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and actor/activist George Takei.
Presenting Sponsor for “Conversations” is the MedLife Foundation, with additional support from American Airlines, Tateuchi Foundation, the City of Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs and Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival. Media sponsors are the Los Angeles Downtown News and the Rafu Shimpo.
For more information on “Conversations” or to reserve tickets, call the Japanese American National Museum at (213) 625-0414. For more information on the National Museum and its programs, go to www.janm.org.