07/28/2017

Why To Unite

I’ve been moderating the 12,000 member group AsiansNOW with ~5 similarly experienced AAPI professionals from allied causes for the past many months. As all our readers who’re awoke and enabled know, there’re tons and tons of social concepts being advanced lately from differences within AAPI to AAPI-and-others relations to civic discourse over Internet trolling to fast-forming groups for any range of sub-causes. I’ve wanted to blog about so many such ideas in length because each is so heartfelt so now I get to the idea of solitarity a.k.a. unity. I used to think it was kooky bunk to have unity because everyone should be an independent thinker and not all communities have shared interests, but months of deep diving with experienced pros in this area have shown it’s actually about helping other allies when they need and when our causes have similar points but not a blind wholesale endorsement of everything each other does. For example, our friends at SolidarityIs have long argued for working with “* Lives Matter” groups because the similar themes of being ignored, ridiculed, demeaned, discrimined. Of course, there’re obvious differences: blacks face more regular violence, more intense geographical (food islands, ghettos, housing projects, etc.), etc., but short of repeating a dissertation about the differences and similarities, we can see we both benefit when we together say, the discrimination by race whether AAPI or black or whatever is unjust, unAmerican, and illegal.

Another example of why unity is superior to striking it out only for East Asian causes as is an easy default for orgs like us is SolidarityIs‘s 9/11 statement. While we AAPI could let Muslims and Sikhs and other Asians face intense violent discrimination. We could just ignore their plight and think of all the issues with us Chinese, but why is that narrow view bad?

  1. disserves both communities
  2. avoids sticking to the true basic principle against discrimination thus risks self-contradictory hypocrisy
  3. pretending injustice against 1 is not injustice against all or at least fostering further intolerance ignores its history and all the structural and systemic inequities which arose, intentionally or incidentally
  4. neuters a proper analysis of policies implemented in the name of national security or intelligence but which are later used against all, not just their original intended targets
  5. avoids hearing the voices and perspectives of all Asians who have so much energy, organizing, and intellectual skill to offer all of us
  6. drops ability to mutually support each other as the goals are so similar at their highest ideals
  7. and ignores sharing the best strategies for getting the job done

That said, let’s unite, be happy, and work to empower our communities. AAAFund does this for progressive AAPI in public life thus we’ve tons of allies.

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My Asian American Story

A friend asked me what my AAPI experience and history were. The simple query freed me to tell what I’ve wanted to for my own spirit but also my ideal of story telling as a superior method of empowering and inspiring others to speak out about their #NoAlternativeFacts experiences. The recently explosively popular and deservedly so story “My Family’s Slave” by Pulitzer Prize-winning Asian-American journalist Alex Tizon is inspiration for telling our tale. He is also the author of Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self which is directly relevant to the AAAFund’s work to empower our community and our blog’s years-long attention to the minority myth. I dedicate my story-telling here to him.

I grew up unwares of AAPI issues or identity. In suburban New Jersey with a 2% Asian town, race was neither identity nor problem as we were all friends. A safe existence in a safe area so nothing to say about childhood identity. Fast forward to college. While CMU has an infamously apolitical bend, its Asian population was 28% & thus the easiest identity to which I attached firmly. Through the big 3 “A” (Asian) orgs, ASA, TSA, and ACF, I spent not only my whole social but also existential time in the world of Asian identity. It however was largely social so I invested nothing political, charitable, cause-wise, or community-wise. It was just for fun. I finished college and started work. Six years of crummy underpaid (50% of industry average) jobs made me seek an outlet for being so uneducated in the practical workplace. After all that academia, harmed by being too meek to get what I wanted, it was time to compensate. After the inspiring 2008 elections, I volunteered with the organization which gave me all of my then political education, Asian American Action Fund (AAAFund), to write about religion and politics, chosen to be a combination of 2 already infamously controversial fields. Writing reflectively, speaking truth to power, hearing from the formerly religious, and seeking truth eventually led me to quit Christianity in early 2017. My values disallow crass, naked, unrepentant sinning while preaching holiness which perversely justifies and tolerates sin, a hypocrisy opposing so many ideals. Politics is merely 1 defiant albeit widely visible expression of that hypocrisy. I’ve come to feel how conservative church-brainwashed Asian-Americans Christians forfeit personal values and identity to gain short-term acceptance, compassion, and belonging. I’m now emotionally secure enough to rise above whitewashing as belonging.

I quickly awoke to how historical and my childhood media and cultural values formed my appearance and self. Wanting to know my identity’s twists and turns, past and present has become a daily consuming work. In 2010, I became AAAFund’s Executive Editor which let me professionally express my desire to empower alike awoke folk. I’ve spent hours weekly since then on this work. I thank my wife for supporting me in this time. It’s all-consuming because there is no other Asian American political news source. AAAFund’s name has the word “Action” in it beacuse we’re not innocent witnesses like bystander journalists idly scratching out a story, we unabashedly advocate the truth, name names (we’re legally a PAC thus our core purpose is to fund candidates and campaigns), taking sides, and taking action. While journalists currently experience a life-or-death struggle over their purpose and the truth, we’re able to take decisive action. We seek not to be neutral but to be truthful and the truth is partisan. It has always been, just now, it’s back for revenge. I feel this is a fuller expression of my citizenship, humanity, and skills.

I recently became a parent to a son and a daughter which accelerate the urgency of seeking joy, contentment, and self-awareness. This work knows no end, but I’m pleased to live in this era of rapidly accelerating attention to AAPI identity. I’m grateful for my position in life and this work to understand my identity is deeply gratifying. Hopefully my story inspires someone to do the same.

For more, read #myasianamericanstory or @myamericanstory & follow our @aaafund.

Census Issues Facing The AAPI Community

Yesterday, May 3, 2017, Representative Grace Meng testified before the The House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee’s oversight hearing on the 2020 Census. Meng focused on the language and access problems facing minority groups, including the Asian American Pacific Islander communities.

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