As many celebrate the Lunar New Year this weekend, Jonathan H. X. Lee, professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University, spoke with NBC News to explain traditional beliefs about the Lunar New Year and the Chinese zodiac. Lee, whose research focuses on folklore and religions, provided perspective as we head into the Year of the Rabbit, saying “There is a lot of possibility for prosperity and flourishing, and for peace, really. The rabbit is a very strong symbol for peace.”
Speaking about the significance of the Year of the Rabbit following mobilization against anti-Asian hate, Lee said, “It is a time for taking inventory of a situation and then making the best choice with the resources that we do have… How we can really resolve and put an end to anti-Asian hate that’s still going on?”
Jonathan Lee, Ph.D., is professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University. His family survived the Cambodian genocide and arrived to the United States in 1981 when he was 5 years old. He identifies as Chinese-Vietnamese-and-Cambodian American. He received his doctorate in religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2009. He has published 16 books, and over 500 articles and essays on Asian American histories, folklore, cultures, and religions. Currently, he serves as editor-in-chief of Chinese America: History & Perspectives, a peer-review journal published by the Chinese Historical Society of America. He is dedicated to anti-racist pedagogy in education, and has been invited by several Silicon Valley corporations and public institutions to speak on issues of equity, inclusion, and diversity.
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