From the Women’s March to a Defense of Islamic Detainees

Last month, several members of the AAA-Fund attended the women’s march on Washington.  It was inspiring and heartening to see hundreds of thousands of individuals holding up brightly colored posters, chanting  together for equality, compassion, and tolerance.

As members of the AAPI community, it was especially encouraging to see ourselves represented in the faces of crowd: fathers, mothers, childhood best friends, and college students, all present, all fighting. While the march was not without its flaws, (see Amanda Ong, “Feminism and Me: The Road to Solidarity“) it was in large part inspirational. Sharing ideas across generations, backgrounds, and personal identifications was an exciting moment of unity.  It presented an opportunity for neophyte activists to learn from their experienced peers, and discover ways to create change in their own communities.

Tensions, of course, have increased since the day after the inauguration; however, the response was swift and effective. The generally uplifting energy of the march was quickly subdued when the president announced his executive order, banning immigrants from 7 majority Muslim countries from entering the US. The conviction of those that marched may have been challenged, but across the nation protesters that had promised to stand against injustice fled to airports in support of detained passengers. Impassioned attorneys showed up to represent those affected. By the end of the weekend a federal court blocked the ban. Recent reports indicate that President Trump’s public scorn for the federal courts is endangering the lives of judges who rule against the ban. (See the Fortune magazine article “Trump Attacks on Judiciary Raise Safety Concerns for Judges.“) As new executive orders are issued the AAA-Fund remains ready to protect the civil rights and civil liberties of the AAPI community.

As the past few weeks have shown, the March was truly just the beginning. As marchers proudly chanted on the steps of the Capitol last month, “We will not go away! Welcome to your first day!”

~ Alina Polishuk

Video footage – Aryani Ong

Video editing Christian Hume & Alina Polishuk

2017 Women’s March on Washington

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of our friend Irene Natividad’s “Women’s March on Washington“.

2017 Women's March on Washington
Irene Navitad and Gloria Steinem at the Women's March on Washington

Our friend Irene Natividad, a recognized leader for American women and AAPI and President of GlobeWomen (the Global Summit of Women of GlobeWomen Research & Education Institute), among many other roles, personally invites our readers and organizational supporters and allies to attend the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, 10:00 am, January 21, 2017 starting at Independence Avenue and 3rd St SW (Google Maps) near the U.S. Capitol and will end at a location tbd (to be determined). The closest MetroRail station is Federal Center Metro Station on Orange and Blue lines:

  • From Largo and New Carrollton, the stop before Federal Center is Capitol South.
  • From Franconia Springfield and Vienna, the stop before Federal Center is L’Enfant Plaza.
  • From the green and yellow lines, you can switch to the orange or blue Line at the L’Enfant Plaza metro.
  • From the red Line, you can switch to the blue or orange line at Metro Center.

Globewomen and AAPI participants can register for free. Read more here.

We’ll update this post with the program featuring nationally recognized advocates, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, et al. It’ll be a lot of fun, organizing, and advancement, so please attend.

AAPI Fightback Manual

How to keep government good & working for you? Making good laws? Representing your needs and concerns? Contact them.

It’s a bit of work & there’re few good tools/APIs for making these automatically. Here’s my personal one I use for issues. Everyone’s government setup is different so there’s no easy automatic way to make this list.

Call the feds daily to convey my concerns, poached off my Facebook feed pre-Electoral College

  1. 202-224-5972×1 Sen. Lindsay Graham – “Support the investigation of Russian hacking of US election systems.”
  2. 202-353-1555 DOJ Comments – “Investigate Russian hacking of US election systems.”
  3. 202-225-5074 House Oversight Committee – “Investigate President Elect’s conflicts of interests. You exists to do that job.”
  4. 202-225-3031 Speaker Ryan; 202-225-0600 is voicemail-only – “Support the ACA. It does real Americans good. If anything, it needs to be expanded to truly lower prices, for now it’s sometimes raising them.”
  5. 202-456-1111 White House – “Thank President Obama for an excellent administration and service.”

Local stuff

  1. CD: District 15 (coastal Bk)
    Theresa Scavo
    718-332-3008 bklcb15@verizon.net
  2. NYC Council: District 45 (Flatlands and surrounding)
    Jumaane D. Williams
    718-629-2900 JWilliams@council.nyc.gov

    1. nearby is District 46 (Marine Park)
      Alan Maisel
      718-241-9330 AMaisel@council.nyc.gov
  3. NYS Assembly: District 41
    Helene Weinstein
    718-648-4700 WeinstH@nyassembly.gov (form)
  4. NYS Senate: District 17 (central Bk)
    Simcha Felder
    718-253-2015 felder@nysenate.gov (form)
  5. US House: District 9 (Kings East)
    Yvette D. Clarke
    202-225-6231 or form
  6. US Senate: NY
    Kirsten Gillibrand 202-224-4451 and Charles Schumer 202-224-6542

    • made this shorter because I rarely contact at this level

Now go make your own cheatsheet & fight back.

No political idea will ever justify a hate incident or hate crime. Don’t know their difference? Want to report one (SPLC’s doing a great job, report there alternatively if you wish)? Do it at AAPIHateCrimes.org run by our friends at OCA National for you & our community. More at our article about it.

We will never give up. We will always fight back until there is justice and a strong voice for Asian America.

Would you want to see this manual as a public collaboration (as a Wiki? Google Docs?) so we all edit it? Comment below to tell me.

How we win: build local power

The answer to how we regroup, and how we win, is the same as it’s always been, even given that the unthinkable occurred. It is how any group of people has ever won against long odds.

I am not saying that the next four years will be easy. I remember working my twenty-three year old heart out in Minnesota in 2004, and watching election night returns with a steadily sinking heart. My friend and I hugged each other and held tight. My flight and SuperShuttle back was full of Republicans jubilant in victory. Meanwhile, all I could think was that it would take the rest of my lifetime to undo the SCOTUS decisions that would occur under 4 years of President George W. Bush. I had already seen the deleterious impact of the PATRIOT Act and special registration while working in my Congresswoman’s district office, with families coming in and crying over hard decisions of going underground, splitting up, or moving to Canada.

That was 12 years ago and it feels like a lifetime. Now we have a president-elect whom the previous worst president ever and his father wouldn’t even vote for. I’m pretty convinced that it will take 2 lifetimes to undo the damage done by a Trump presidency. Republicans are 1 state away from controlling enough legislatures to pass Constitutional amendments (this is perhaps scariest of all.) Watching the 2016 returns from the NVDems theoretical victory party, feeling half alive, half dead, and very much like Schrodinger’s cat, I hugged that same friend from ’04 who was there and we commented on how similar it felt. How just like 2004, it doesn’t feel better to win your state when the whole country has lost. As I left Aria, I glanced at the faces of all the young staffers and volunteers, at the children who were in attendance, and I felt bad. They didn’t know just how bad it can get. I’d worked in DC under a Republican administration, where all the agencies turn into the opposite. But this, this would be more unpredictable.

A day later, I went to lunch with a friend and mentee. She asked me the odds of us surviving. Initially I gave a low number but then I thought about all the people I saw on Election Night, friends I’d made over 3 cycles. Friends who had done great work in building local power in Las Vegas and Nevada who were also shocked that Nevada had accomplished so much in four short years.

If you had asked me 4 or 6 years ago if I thought Nevada would be the shining star of election night, I would have snorted. People used to cry about being sent to work the state because of in-fighting, lack of infrastructure, and a highly transient population. Then we won, picking up 2 out of 6 House Democratic seats, and helping to send the first Latina to the U.S. Senate.

Nevada’s victory didn’t come out of nowhere. It took lots of dedicated hours and volunteers. It took some people stepping down so that new leaders could arise. But most of all, it took people putting aside their differences and personality conflicts and egos. The unions worked together and Culinary’s program anchored Labor 2016. Other progressive groups also worked together better. They built local organizations and local power. The AAPI community finally built a community center, and new leaders surfaced who were committed to serving the community. Mostly, no one wanted a repeat of 2014 where the Silver State lost all their Democratic statewides and both legislative houses, which led to a disastrous legislative session. So they were determined to work together.

Other cities, other states can do it too. We, as individuals, can work together. We have to work together because the consequences for not holding tight are too dire. Each of us can make a difference by taking a stand. By running for PTA president or school board. By reaching out at an interfaith service. It all starts somewhere. The answer to the question of how we survive is the same as ever: build local power. Some are waiting for someone, anyone to come and save us. But if there is one thing that I learned from Ferguson, it’s that we have to save ourselves. We are beautiful and so very worth saving. Our democracy is a time-tested and yet fragile ecosystem, one that requires our energy and our participation to keep it alive and functioning. So we are here to do the work, with our two hands, full lungs, and a steadily beating heart.


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