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Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu

Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu

Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) get repeatedly asked, 'Where y'all really from?' Activists Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu talk about a new podcast that tackles the question, shares the experiences of AAPI community members and aims to break through barriers to understanding.
S17 E2 Length 27:23 Premiere: 9.12.21

New Podcast Shares Stories from Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders Living in Kentucky

As Charlene Buckles explains it, it’s a conversation that unfolds with a new friend, a coworker, or even with someone in a checkout line at the grocery. The other person will ask where she’s from, and she will tell them she’s from Kentucky, where she was raised and has lived for more than 20 years.

Which usually elicits the follow-up question: No, where are you really from?

“I’m personally still trying to process how I feel when I get that question asked,” says the Filipina-Kentuckian. “It really puts an othering to the person that’s getting asked the question.”

Buckles says Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) like her face that conversation often during their lives. Some people ask out of a genuine curiosity, but others can attach racial or discriminatory overtones to the question.

That shared experience of AAPI Kentuckians is at the heart of a new podcast called Where Ya’ll Really From? that’s hosted by Buckles, an activist and fundraiser for the ACLU of Kentucky, along with Lexington chef and restaurateur Dan Wu.

The idea of a podcast came from immigration attorney and state Rep. Nima Kulkarni (D-Louisville) and Berea restauranteur Mae Suramek who appeared on KET earlier this year to discuss the sharp increase in violence against AAPI individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now Kulkarni and Suramek are co-producers of the podcast along with Buckles and Wu, who say they want to provide a way for AAPI Kentuckians to share their stories and feel less isolated.

“First and foremost, it’s for us,” says Wu, who immigrated to the United States from China with his parents when he was eight years old. “It’s for the folks that haven’t heard their own voices, much less people’s voices that sound like theirs that have similar experiences.”

Although she’s been busy adjusting to life with a new baby, Buckles says she felt compelled to join the podcast effort after the shootings of six women of Asian descent at Atlanta area massage parlors in March of 2021. She says about 1.9 percent of Kentuckians are of Asian or Pacific Island heritage. Many of them live in small communities where they may among the few if not the only AAPI people in town.

“I felt like I needed to do something to organize or to do this podcast where we could really connect all the AAPI Kentuckians and say you’re not alone,” says Buckles. “We’re having the same experiences and this is our Kentucky too.”

‘Universal Stories’ from Across the Commonwealth

The podcast launches on Sept. 21 with guest Neeli Bendapudi, a native of India who has been the president of the University of Louisville since 2018. Wu says he was interested in featuring an Asian-American woman in a position of power after reading a New York Times article about how Asian Americans are underrepresented in upper management jobs. He contends so-called “model minorities” have prescribed careers in which they are allowed to excel, such as medicine, engineering, and academics. But he says AAPI people often aren’t seen has having the social skills required for leadership and management positions.

“We never get to that the top rung where we’re making decisions and being the gatekeeper and setting the tone of what the institution is all about,” says Wu.

Not only is Bendapudi the first woman and the first person of color to lead U of L, but she arrived during a period of great turmoil. The university’s former president, athletic director, and men’s basketball coach had been forced out amid various allegations of misconduct.

“You’re not coming in when the ship is smooth sailing, you’re coming in to right the ship, and so your opportunity… to succeed is much harder,” says Wu. “She recognized that… and so she’s coming into it clear eyed and knowing what she’s up against.”

Even if the situation may appear to be a recipe for potential failure, Buckles says Bendapudi wants to open the door for another woman and/or person of color to follow in her footsteps. Buckles says that’s a revolutionary concept that has inspired her to think about the pathways she can provide.

“If I think about let’s bring as many people with me as possible, then they can’t say no to us, they can’t close the door on us,” says Buckles.

Eleven more episodes will follow in the first season of Where Ya’ll Really From? as Wu and Buckles speak with AAPI individuals from across the commonwealth. The duo say they feature many everyday stories of people working hard in their communities, like Angelika Weaver, who is a domestic violence victims’ advocate for the City of Williamsburg, population 5.260.

“They are really universal stories,” says Buckles. “I think that once you humanize a concept, people will come together and cheer you on.”

Although he hasn’t snagged the interview yet, Wu says his dream guests are 2021 Olympic gold medal fencer Lee Kiefer, who is of Filipina-American descent, and her Taiwanese-American husband Gerek Meindhart, who won bronze medals in fencing in the 2016 and 2021 Olympics. Both are medical students at the University of Kentucky.

But not everyone they approached agreed to be interviewed. Buckles says there was one LGBTQ person had not come out to their family yet, and several undocumented immigrants didn’t want to share their stories. She says she understands the reluctance people can have about going public.

“I also have a very big fear of being very open about my experience… I’m nervous of family members who might not accept me,” says Buckles. “But I think it’s an important time, it’s an important moment right now and that movement has to happen.”

Program Details

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams is a former mayor of Youngstown, Ohio. From the recent SOAR summit in Pikeville, he talks about how Youngstown recovered from the decline of the steel industry and how those lessons can apply to Eastern Kentucky areas distressed by the sharp downturn in coal jobs.

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Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence - S17 E4

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Cathy Zion - Zion Publications LLC - S10 E38

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Gigi Butler - Gigi's Cupcakes - S10 E39

Gigi Butler opened her first Gigi's Cupcakes location just off of music row in Nashville, Tennessee in 2008 and in six short years, with 98 locations and counting, Gigi's is now the largest cupcake franchise in the world.

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Cathe Dykstra - Family Scholar House - S10 E41

Cathe Dykstra, chief possibility officer, president & CEO of Family Scholar House, discusses the Louisville organization and its impact on families and communities. Family Scholar House's mission is to end the cycle of poverty by providing housing and educational support to single-parent students and their families.

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Infant Nutrition and Breastfeeding - S10 E42

Renee and her guests discuss the health benefits of breastfeeding in recognition of national breastfeeding week, as well as provide tips on proper infant nutrition. Scheduled guests include: Doraine Bailey, MA, IBCLC, Breastfeeding Support Services with the Lexington-Fayette County Health Dept.; Ana Maria Linares, an associate professor in the UK College of Nursing and a Lactation Consultant who has conducted research on attitudes and practices around breastfeeding among Latinas in Lexington; and Nicole Peritore, program coordinator for the Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) Office at the University of Kentucky.

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Connections

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Connections

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Andre Taylor - S10 E43

Andre Taylor has a distinguished 35-year career, building and advising businesses. He's the author of You Can Still Win! and a half-dozen other books, a frequent guest expert on ABC News, and an international authority on winning and leadership. Mr. Taylor was a speaker at the 13th Annual Lexington Bluegrass Area Minority Business Expo.

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JoAnne Wheeler Bland - S10 E44

Renee talks with transgender activist JoAnne Wheeler Bland, who in her sixties transitioned from male to female. A practicing attorney for more than 40 years, she is a former Special Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, former Vice-President of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, current member of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education's Committee on Equal Opportunity (the Diversity Committee), and guest speaker at Women's and Gender Studies programs at Kentucky universities.

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Faith Politics - S10 E45

Renee and her guests talk about the role of religion in politics and public policy decision-making. Guests: Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, pastor of New Union Christian Church, and Rev. D. Anthony Everett, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church.

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Kinship Care - S10 E46

Kentucky has one of the highest rates in the nation of children being raised by grandparents and other relatives, also known as kinship care. Renee and her guests discuss what research tells us about the financial, emotional, and legal challenges that kinship care poses. Guests: Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, and Jeanne Miller-Jacobs, a kinship care provider.

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Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk - S11 E2

Renee Shaw interviews new Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk, who talks about his experiences in public education and his goals for the district.

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Connections

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The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia - Gerald Smith - S11 E3

Renee's guest is Dr. Gerald Smith, an author and history professor at the University of Kentucky, and co-editor of The Kentucky African-American Encyclopedia: Life and Culture in the Commonwealth. The reference book contains entries on the individuals, events, places, organizations, movements, and institutions that helped shape the state's history and cultural diversity.

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Childhood Cancer - S11 E4

September is childhood cancer awareness month. Renee talks with survivors and parents about their experiences and the research on the rare maladies striking youth.

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Kellie Blair Hardt - S11 E5

Renee speaks with special education teacher Kellie Blair Hardt, who overcame homelessness, an absent mother, an alcoholic father and school expulsion to earn her GED. She received the National Education Association Foundation's 2013 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence as one of the nation's top educators. Hardt is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education at George Mason University. She was featured in KET's series Dropping Back In.

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Jacinda Townsend - S11 E6

Author Jacinda Townsend discusses her critically acclaimed novel, Saint Monkey, a coming-of-age story set in 1950's Eastern Kentucky. The book won the James Fenimore Cooper Prize for historical fiction. Townsend is a former Hurston-Wright Award finalist and currently teaches creative writing at Indiana University.

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Dorothy Butler Gilliam - S11 E7

Renee speaks with journalist Dorothy Butler Gilliam, who was the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post. She retired in 2003 after a 35-year career with the paper.

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Connections - S17 E8

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Allison Joseph - S11 E8

Allison Joseph is the author of six poetry books. She teaches at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where she helped found {Crab Orchard Review}, a literary journal, and the Young Writers Workshop, a co-ed residential summer program for teen writers.

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Ari Berman - S11 E9

Renee's guest is Ari Berman, a contributing writer for The Nation magazine and an Investigative Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute. He has written extensively about American politics, civil rights and the intersection of money and politics. The title of his new book is Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.

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Miss Kentucky Clark Davis - S11 E10

Renee speaks with Miss Kentucky Clark Davis, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky majoring in vocal performance, with a minor in political science. Davis was diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school. Her pageant platform is dyslexia awareness.

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Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear - S11 E11

Renee speaks with Jane Beshear, former first lady of Kentucky, about her policy initiatives and programs during her time in the Governor's Mansion.

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Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence - S17 E4

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Elaine Chao - S10 E23

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Filmmaker Sarah Burns - S17 E3

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Diabetes Epidemic - S10 E20

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Mary Gwen Wheeler, 55,000 Degrees - S10 E16

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15K Degrees Initiative - S10 E13

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Sister Helen Prejean - S10 E12

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Jefferson County Veterans Treatment Court - S10 E11

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Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu - S17 E2

  • Sunday September 19, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday September 18, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Wednesday September 15, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
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  • Sunday September 12, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
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  • Sunday September 12, 2021 11:00 am CT on KET

Cynthia Knapek - Leadership Louisville Center

  • Sunday September 12, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 12, 2021 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
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Bill Farmer - S10 E8

  • Friday September 10, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Diane Follingstad - UK Women's Circle Endowment Chair - S10 E6

  • Thursday September 9, 2021 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Kevin Chapman - S10 E5

  • Wednesday September 8, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Soreyda Benedit Begley and Chris Begley - S10 E3

  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Chris Rabb - S10 E1

  • Friday September 3, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Tanya Torp and Holly Houston - S9 E46

  • Thursday September 2, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday September 2, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Frontier Nursing University - S9 E45

  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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SWAG - Sisters and Supporters Working Against Gun Violence - S9 E44

  • Tuesday August 31, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Marta Miranda - S9 E43

  • Monday August 30, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday August 30, 2021 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Sarah Taylor Vanover - Early Childhood Education

  • Sunday September 5, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Wednesday September 1, 2021 11:30 pm ET on KET
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  • Sunday August 29, 2021 6:00 pm ET on KET2
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The Rise of Anti-Asian Violence

  • Sunday August 29, 2021 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday August 28, 2021 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Judi Jennings - S9 E42

  • Friday August 27, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Robert Hilgers - S9 E41

  • Thursday August 26, 2021 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Season 17 Episodes

Whitney Austin - Reducing Gun Violence

S17 E4 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 9.26.21

Filmmaker Sarah Burns

S17 E3 Length 28:11 Premiere Date 9.19.21

Charlene Buckles and Dan Wu

S17 E2 Length 27:23 Premiere Date 9.12.21

Explore KET