Origin Story – 89.3 WFPL Louisville News


It’s a question that all Asian Americans ask themselves at least once: “Where are you from?” “

“No, but where are you really of?”

This new podcast from the Louisville Public Media Podcast Incubator focuses on the tens of thousands of Asian-Americans whose response is, “I’m from Kentucky!

For the very first episode of “Where Y’all Really From”, the whole team came together for a good old-fashioned origin story. This is your chance to meet the people behind the show and find out: How did it go? Why are we doing this? And how do they respond when people ask them, “Where you really of?”

(left to right) Dan Wu, Charlene Buckles, Mae Suramek and Nima Kulkarni

Nima Kulkarni

Representative Nima Kulkarni is an immigration lawyer and the first American Indian to be elected to a position statewide in Kentucky. She said she was inspired to come forward when anti-immigration sentiment rose to the forefront of national politics.

“I’ve seen some of that kind of rhetoric reverberate into our local and national politics,” Kulkarni said. “And I looked around and saw that there was no representation, and no one was really resisting it all. And that’s really why I took the plunge and ran against a 20-year-old starter because I thought, you know, something had to change and now was the time. The time had come.

Where does it really come from?

“When someone asks me that, even if it’s for real, I get tired very quickly. And I refuse to respond to anything other than Louisville, or Kentucky, or anywhere in my district, ”Kulkarni said. “They really have to work to wrest the idea that I wasn’t born here. I can not help it.

Mae Suramek

Mae Suramek is a social entrepreneur who owns three restaurants in Berea. After the murder of six Asian women in Atlanta, Suramek and Kulkarni took part in the KET talk show “Connections,” to talk about anti-Asian hatred and racist rhetoric around the COVID-19 pandemic . At the end of the show, they both felt there was still a lot to say. Kulkarni called Suramek, and six months later a podcast was born.

“We knew we needed a safe space for our community, different regions or different corners of Kentucky,” Suramek said. “Space for all members of the AAPI community to come together and make their voices heard. “

Where does it really come from?

“When I was younger, as a teenager, even in college, I sighed and gave them what they wanted: I’m from Thailand, even though I was born in Chicago, I grew up in Chicago and I’ve lived most of my life here, ”says Suramek. “But the last few years, when I’m asked that question, I’ll say, ‘Well, I was born in Chicago, but I have a feeling that’s not what you mean, when you ask me where I am. am from… I think what you really want to know is where my original family is from? ‘ And then I say we are Thai.

Dan Wu

Dan Wu is a business owner and activist in Lexington. “We have been in this country to varying degrees for a few hundred years now. And a lot of our stories just weren’t told, “Wu said.” And especially in a place like Kentucky, people don’t think of Asians in Kentucky. And I think we’re all trying in our own way to change that. “

Where does it really come from?

“Sometimes I literally go, if it’s a stranger completely out of context asking me where I’m from, I’m just going to pause, wait a few awkward seconds and say, ‘Why are you asking? “” Wu said. “That kind of shutdown stops a lot of people in their tracks and maybe makes them question, you know, and maybe makes them realize that their innocent question doesn’t come so innocently.”

Charlene earrings

Charlene Buckles is a Louisville-based activist and director of development for the Kentucky ACLU. “When Dan got me on this project, I was about three months postpartum and really didn’t know what to do. Usually I try to activate and organize when things like [the Atlanta murders] happen, ”she said. “I really didn’t know if I was ready to commit to this level. But I wanted to create something meaningful and give a voice to those whose stories are not being told or ignored in Kentucky. And I think this podcast is just a great space to do it.

Where does it really come from?

“Sometimes I just want to play with people and just say, ‘I’m from northern Kentucky, I grew up in northern Kentucky,” she said. “And they’re like, well where are you of? And I’m like Hebron. And then other times, because it’s exhausting trying to explain yourself all the time, I say, ‘I was born in the Philippines, in Manila, and grew up in Northern Kentucky since then. age seven. ‘ “


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