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Meet Jing



To close out Women's History Month this year, we wanted to highlight our own Board Chair, Jing Geng! Jing joined API Middle Tennessee's board in 2022 and will serve as its chair through 2025. We are grateful for her leadership. Hear from her in this interview.


 

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Suzhou, China which is considered the “Venice of the East” due to its many canals. My mom is a nurse and my dad was a doctor and they met in a hospital there. My dad first went abroad to Manchester, England and then to Chicago, Illinois where my mom and I joined him years later when I was 5. After working at the University of Chicago, my dad had the opportunity to move to Vanderbilt University when I was 12 years old though I didn’t really know anything about Nashville or Tennessee. It definitely took some time to adjust moving from the North to the South. My sister was born in 1999 in Nashville which was a highlight for us all. After high school graduation, I went away for college, law school, and lived abroad in 8 different countries. I’ve been very fortunate to have these experiences. I moved back to Nashville in 2021 after my dad tragically passed away and am grateful to find a community like API Middle Tennessee, which did not exist when I was in high school. 


Are there any API women that are inspirations for you?

I really admire the courage and activism of journalist and writer Helen Zia. She was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1952 to Chinese-American immigrants. She was part of the first co-ed class at Princeton. She left medical school to become an autoworker, union member, and community activist. She has been outspoken on issues of racism, feminism, worker solidarity, LGBTQI+ issues, and the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit. It takes a lot of courage to depart from a designated path for “success” and to follow your heart and stand for your convictions. 


What are your hopes for API Middle Tennessee?

I would like to further the work of community-building and celebration of our identities across Middle Tennessee. This is why the work of API Clarksville and API Murfreesboro is so exciting. I do not want the organization to be perceived as merely an arts or social organization, though of course those elements are important. My hope is to further the advocacy or lifting of voices aspect of the work. Often, Asian Pacific Islander communities are seen as an afterthought in elections and political engagement, so I am proud of the critical civic engagement work of the organization. I hope that advocacy work is continually strengthened so that we are a powerful voting bloc, though of course our communities are not monolithic. I want our voices heard and not further marginalized. For instance, at this moment, our state legislature wants to have English-only license tests and to ban people of Chinese origin from owning agricultural land. The blatant xenophobia and scapegoating is extremely distressing. You would think lawmakers would work on policies that actually benefited Tennesseans rather than ones that cause further fear and division. To that end, I want API Middle Tennessee to be a powerful advocacy and anti-discrimination organization centering justice and equity and one that stands in solidarity with historically marginalized communities. We have strength in numbers and we’re not going to sit quietly at the sidelines. 


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