PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island College professor Janice Okoomian was interviewed by Rhode Island’s public radio station, the local National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate, about her reaction to President Joe Biden’s recent affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
Dr. Okoomian writes, “While President Biden’s declaration is important to the geopolitics of the current situation with Turkey and Azerbaijan, the focus of this interview was more about how I think the declaration might affect the psyches of Armenian American descendants of genocide survivors. I spoke about the way the declaration helps us feel visible in the U.S. and how it begins to heal some of our inherited trauma. I also expressed my hope that our Armenian genocide legacy will prompt Armenian Americans to support those who experience racism in the US. In addition to my comments about the Black Lives Matter movement, which you will hear in the interview, I also believe there are echoes of genocidal logic in the way immigrant refugees have been characterized and treated at the southern US. borders. Additionally, as I write, I am conscious of the very sad irony that I now live on land that once belonged to the Wampanoag nation, who were dispossessed of their ancestral land. A number of my students, who previously knew nothing about Armenians, have heard the interview and responded positively, many of them connecting the Armenian experience with their own experience of racism.”
The transcribed May 4 interview on the Mosaic program follows, taken with permission from the Publics Radio website.
On April 24th, President Biden formally recognized the Armenian Genocide of 1915. While the horrific events of this genocide occurred over 100 years ago, the lack of formal recognition of the violent acts has had a damaging effect on Armenian American communities. Dr. Janice Okoomian is Assistant Professor of English and Gender and Women’s studies at Rhode Island College. She’s also Armenian. Dr. Okoomian spoke with Mosaic host Ana Gonzalez about what this statement means to her.
GONZÁLEZ: Janice, thank you so much for being here with me.
OKOOMIAN: Thanks for having me.