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Cece Chan's Historic Ethnic Studies Film



“For the Culture”, directed by Cece Chan, is the first large scale, student-led documentary done on Seattle Public Schools about the importance and need for ethnic studies. The short film was directed, shot, and edited by Chan when she was a senior at Nathan Hale High School. For the film, Chan visited Seattle Public School high schools and talked with students, teachers, and activists about how longstanding white-centered curricula harms students of color.


Chan was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. When she was growing up, Chan said in a recent interview, racial microagressions from teachers and other students taught her to feel terrible about herself as a 3rd generation Asian American. Then, in class, Chan rarely saw people like her in what she was being taught in school. "I feel like I could’ve been more confident and engaged and loved myself more if the educational system saw me and supported me,” Chan said in the interview.


It was these damaging and hurtful early experiences that motivated Chan to become a student activist. In high school, Chan joined the Washington State National Association and Advancement of Colored People Youth Council to fight for educational justice. She spoke at school board meetings, to the Washington Education Association, and in elementary school classrooms. She started and completed her film, "For the Culture," her senior year. The film premiered at the 2019 South End Stories Film Festival.



In May 2019, Chan won one of three $1,000 Black Education Matters Student Activist Awards (BEMSAA) for her film and activism. The annual BEMSAA are given to Seattle Public School student leaders who demonstrate “exceptional leadership in struggles against racism — especially with an understanding of the intersections with sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, class exploitation and other forms of oppression — within their school or community.”


Today, Chan continues to work with the WA NAACP Youth Council. She is currently a sophomore at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) where she is pursuing a major in Political Science and minor in Critical Race Studies. She recently won her college’s Spirit of Diversity Award as an Emerging Leader 2019-2020 for having been especially visible, empowering, advocating, and supportive of diversity, justice, and sustainability issues on campus and in the greater community. Chan also develops curriculum for South End Stories.


"For the Culture," in its entirety, will be released on the South End Stories website this fall. Stay tuned for announcements about this historic film's online debut and watch events!


South End Stories is funded by Best Starts for Kids, an initiative of The King County Department of Community and Human Services.

 In 2020, SES joined the Intiman Theatre family of education programs, where it continues to operate with its own director and staff.


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