Response Letter to The Wake

Article in The Wake

An Open Letter to The Wake student magazine and Campus Progress

*Do not copy or repost without my explicit permission.

Dear Student Writers at the Wake Student Magazine and Campus Progress,

My name is Sarah Park and I am an assistant professor at St. Catherine University. I have a BA in Asian American Studies and earned my MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA, where you might know that recently a white student made a racist YouTube video about Asians in the library. I spoke up against that situation and now I am compelled to speak up against this situation: a couple days ago I saw your article titled, “White Students ‘Just More Comfortable’ at Chilly Billy’s” in The Wake.

I am very offended by the implicit privilege and explicit racism depicted by this article, and The Wake’s publication of such an article, for the following reasons:

  • Student Sarah Johnson is reported to have said, “Well, at FruLaLa I don’t even know if they speak English. How am I supposed to get normal frozen yogurt if I don’t know Chinese, right?” Ms. Johnson’s statement regarding her lack of fluency in Chinese betrays her ignorance of Asian cultures by conflating Chineseness with Koreanness – FruLaLa is owned and operated by Korean Americans. Regardless of who owns or works at FruLaLA, FruLaLa employees speak English and are perfectly capable of communicating effectively with all patrons.
  • Ms. Johnson’s use of the word “normal” shows her white privilege in being able to define what is “normal” and implicitly then what is not “normal.”
  • The article posits whiteness against non-whiteness, and particularly against Asianness.This kind of binary thinking is harmful, unproductive, and does not lead to social progress, social understanding, or social healing. Rather, whether spoken in jest or in truth, articles such as this perpetuate racism, xenophobia, and misunderstandings among society.
  • Patronage at frozen yogurt shops is diverse. The Pinkberry crave, begun in Los Angeles several years ago, testifies to this. Your article suggests that prior to Chilly Billy’s, frozen yogurt was not socially accessible for whites in the midwest. Perhaps that has more to do with campus climate perpetuated by attitudes and articles such as this than it does with the ethnic and cultural background of frozen yogurt shop owners. Minnesota is still in the top 15 whitest states in the nation, and white enrollment at UMN is at 72% while Asian enrollment is 9%.
  • Given the recent uproar over KDWB’s racist song about Hmong people, the xenophobic tendencies in our national politics and immigration policies, and ongoing hate crimes against non-whites both locally and nationally, it is socially irresponsible for The Wake to publish such racist views. I would add that, further, it is financially irresponsible as small businesses continue to struggle in this economy. Publishing an article criticizing a small business with racist views can do irreparable financial damage.

The publication of this article does not align with Campus Progress’ goal “to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges”; in fact, it does exactly the opposite. Freedom of speech and editorial freedom are one thing, but articles should still be guided by Campus Progress’ mission is to promote progressive solutions.” I completely disagree that this is merely a “controversial or offensive opinion,” as a CP representative wrote in response to a colleague’s letter (on this same issue). In fact, this article is outright racist and has no place in a progressive media outlet.

I recommend that The Wake issue a public apology and develop a process to review articles prior to publication. I honestly don’t believe that a media outlet would not review articles for grammar, quality, and style, much less for content. If these actions are not taken, I urge Campus Progress to pull funding from The Wake since it clearly does not align with CP’s mission.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sarah Park, Ph.D., M.S., M.A.
Assistant Professor at St. Catherine University

UPDATE 4:42PM Campus Progress’ (Unsatisfying) Response

Prof. Park,

Thanks for your feedback. Our program supports progressive media outlets, which may occasionally present controversial or dissenting opinions. We believe in the editorial freedom of our grantees and do not review any work before it is published. Feel free to email us back if you have further questions or concerns.


David Spett

Journalism Network Associate

Center for American Progress

1333 H St. NW, 1st Floor

Washington, DC 20005

202.481.8202 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202.481.8202      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Campus Progress’ Journalism Network: Supporting and training the next generation of progressive journalists.

Research Request for Participation

Transnationally Adopted Koreans’ Information Seeking Behavior

My name is Sarah Park and I am an assistant professor in the Library and Information Science Program at St. Catherine University, and I am researching the information seeking behaviors of adopted Koreans. My main research question is: how do adopted Koreans go about seeking information regarding adoption and birth histories, what are some barriers, specific needs, and resources available to aid in this process? The goal of my research is to understand and frame the information behaviors of adopted Koreans, as well as analyze and highlight the needs, resources, and barriers related to information seeking.

I invite you to participate in this project of advancing knowledge about search experiences through an interview about your own search experiences. The interview will take approximately one hour and be audio-recorded. All data will be kept strictly confidential, secured behind passwords and locked cabinets/offices, and destroyed upon completion of the project.

Participant Requirements

  • Adopted Koreans age 18+ who have conducted a birth search.

If interested, please contact Sarah Park
651-690-8791 Office

This project is funded by the St. Catherine University Carol Easley Denny Faculty Research Grant. For more information about Sarah Park:

2011 Social Justice in Children’s/YA Reading List

Drumroll please… here is my 2011 LIS 7963 Social Justice in Children’s/YA course intro and reading list!

Course Overview

Students in this course will learn how to select, read, evaluate and analyze depictions and aspects of social justice and injustice in children’s and young adult literature. Through various genres of literature intended for both the child and adolescent reader, students will develop an informed awareness of the complex perspectives, uses and boundaries of literature and will learn to recognize and analyze how adolescent and children’s literature depict stories related to social justice, tolerance, equality and social change.

We will engage in a variety of teaching/learning methods to cover the course material, including but not limited to: lecture, small/large group discussions, independent and group projects, written and oral presentations.

Course Objectives

  • To gain an understanding of the history of social justice-related children’s literature;
  • To become familiar with a range of authors, works, genres and media depicting social justice issues for youth;
  • To gain experience in discussing, evaluating and promoting children’s literature/resources that depict social justice issues;
  • To learn strategies for connecting young people with social justice literature;
  • To identify and discuss literary and societal trends and social justice issues (war, refugee, migration, class, gender, etc) represented in materials for youth.

By successfully finishing this course, students will be able to select, evaluate, and recommend a variety of materials depicting social justice issues for young audiences.

Reading List

  • Claudette Colvin:  Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
  • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Tofu Quilt by Ching Yeung Russell
  • Jane Addams: Champion of Democracy by Dennis Brindell Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin
  • Dia’s Story Cloth: The Hmong People’s Journey of Freedom by Dia Cha
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
  • The Enemy by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch
  • When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park
  • Tasting the Sky:  A Palastinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
  • Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki
  • Denied, Detained, Deported:  Stories from the Dark Side of American Immigration by Ann Bausum
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
  • Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
  • Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
  • Shi-shi-Etko by Nicola I. Campbell
  • Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac
  • Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
  • The Traitor:  Golden Mountain Chronicles, 1885 by Laurence Yep
  • When the Black Girl Sings by Bil Wright
  • Voices from Another Place:  A Collection of Works from a Generation Born in Korea and Adopted to Other Countries edited by Susan Soon-Keum Cox
  • Planting the Trees of Kenya:  The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
  • Aloha, Kanani by Lisa Yee (American Girl series)
  • Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  • The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, Rosana Faria, and Elisa Amado
  • Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
  • The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
  • My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams
  • This Thing Called the Future: A Novel by J.L. Powers

Details for the first week of class

WEEK 1: Tues May 31 (Introduction)

  • Nodelman, Perry.  “The Other:  Orientalism, Colonialism, and Children’s Literature.”  Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 17.1, 1992.
  • Larrick, Nancy.  “The All-White World of Children’s Books.”  Saturday Review, Sep. 11, 1965.
  • Derman-Sparks, Louise. “10 Quick Ways to Analyze Children’s Books for Racism and Sexism.”  From Anti-Bias Curriculum:  Tools for Empowering Young Children.  Washington, DC:  NAEYC, 1980. [Google search for the PDF from UNCC]


  • Claudette Colvin:  Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  •  Bring to class a children’s or YA book that you think speaks to a social justice issue.

WEEK 1: Thurs June 2 (Slavery and Colonizing the Body) 


  • Bring a book about slavery (fiction or nonfiction, for children or young adults)



  • Moses:  When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle
  • Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis