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Connective Issues: A UMass Chan diversity and inclusion blog

Here’s why we celebrate the ‘Power of Joy’

Monday, January 30, 2023
By:  Janjay Innis

In a world riddled with bigotry, discrimination and violence, joy is an act of radical resistance because it dares to convey that those vices will never become the norm. 

In this spirit, the Diversity and Inclusion Office at UMass Chan Medical School created the “Power of Joy” series to explore how joy is used as a mechanism to foster unity, change and resilience in marginalized and/or underrepresented communities.  

On Friday, Jan. 27, joy was explored through a virtual celebration of Lunar New Year. The presentation featured speakers from UMass Chan and the local community. 

With roots in China, Tiawan, Vietnam and Korea, speakers talked about the holiday’s varying celebrations through the lens of seeking a fresh new start; to remove the bad and old; to refresh hopes of prosperity, wealth and happiness; and to bring people together.  

In sharing unique cultural perspectives of the holiday, listenerswere reminded that for immigrants and second-generation members of Asian families, the holiday is not only celebrated as a form of nostalgia, but it’s also celebrated as a means of helping each other navigate the complexities of the western world and to bridge the gaps that often cause misunderstandings. 

Being in and working in a multicultural space such as UMass Chan allows members of this community to learn about and understand holidays like Lunar New Year and reminds us of our shared humanity. With this core value of shared humanity in mind, our eyes are likely to be opened to the ways we ought to continuously create spaces to listen to members of the Asian community whose concerns often go unnoticed due to the trope of the model minority they are burdened with. 

In the opening remarks, Marlina Duncan, EdD, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, acknowledged the tragic Monterey Park, California, shooting that took place on the eve of Lunar New Year, noting, “We really need to come together as a community to acknowledge that this can no longer be a standard; this can no longer feel as though it’s just another event in the news.” 

In highlighting Lunar New Year and the optimism it brings to life each year to those who celebrate it, we hope to become true allies alongside the Asian community as they take up space to be heard and seen in the communities and institutions that they are equal members of.