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.

Stop Anti-AAPI Hate Crimes

OCA Hate Incident Reporting

If you missed tonight’s excellent OCA National call about AAI hate crimes, here’re the todo’s from that call to fight anti-AAPI hate crimes as presented by OCA National:

  1. keep anti-hate crimes bills passed: OCA , JACL et al. passed & will monitor the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act (2009) which expanded federal authority to investigate and prosecute hate crimes by adding sex, gender, and disability categories to existing 1968 law and to keep it that way
  2. keep DOJ accountable for enforcing law
    1. forget harassing the DOJ, the AG nominee’s got a famed record of opposing civil rights so energy here isn’t productive, let’s do what’s going to really help our community which is …
    2. … to ensure states (AR, GA, IN, SC, WY) and local municipalies have then enforce hate crimes. They need law enforcement, awareness/education, proper law writing, legislation, a lot. How? Join AAPI legal orgs/advocates feeding into the central effort such as 50 States Against Hate” (read more).
    3. ADF et al. promote and write laws to fight hate crimes. Check their status by checking what laws are what at HDSL.org. Underreporting lets others think it’s not a problem.
  3. Report it. AAPIHateCrimes.org. Be accurate. We’re under-reported. SPLC does the best tracking. Read it. Donate to them. Volunteer for them.
  4. Share the human story. read and write for Seventh Wave, a literary magazine whose issue 4 was about why one becomes politically involved. Hint: we all are. Tell your story to police, fellow citizens, friends about why anti-AAPI hate crimes exist, are a problem, and damage the whole community (not just incident-specific). Others need to know.
  5. Support the victim and community. Resist the urge to stay silent, hide, save embarassment, power is in our community, we will support you, this blog is a such place here for you if you need to vent/testify/prevent/speak/shout.
  6. Build alliances. Trump threatens our idea of an inclusive society. Prevent that by making society. Find our partners on our social media or here’s one: NotInOurTown to show stories of responding to hate/bullying/crimes.

We skip past the policy, heady, legal, theoretical, and wonky stuff to give you, the reader, only what you need to meet our mission: increase AAPI progressive political participation. Never repeat history. Be the change. All these are true again. Above all: take action, fight back, volunteer for us.

Police, Reform & Hope

police and BLMOn Day 2 of the DNC, Philadelphia is a city filled with hope for police reform and community healing.

Today in front of the Philedelphia City Hall, protesters with “Black Lives Matters” signs met a line of police dressed in summer shorts and standing by their bicycles. Protestors and police listened to each other. As I watched I thought of Sen. Cory Booker’s words from Day 1: 

We are not called to be a nation of tolerance. We are called to be a nation of love. Tolerance says I am just going to stomach your right to be different…. 

But love – love knows that every American has worth and value, no matter what their background, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Love recognizes that we need each other, that we as a nation are better together, that when we are divided we are weak, we decline, yet when we are united we are strong – invincible!”

Inside the Wells Fargo Center, Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay discussed how his police force is working to address the tension from police shootings and shootings of police. He noted that communities are loosing faith in police even though crime is decreasing. Working with the understanding that the public can support police and the same time demand criminal justice reform, Chief McLay is moving to build trust.

Just a few minutes later Mothers of theMovement took the DNC stage. Each member of this collective is the mother of a black child slain due to police brutality or gun violence. They explained that Hillary Clinton took the time to listen to their experiences. Hillary declared that racial violence is a national crisis. All we could do was give them a standing ovation. I stood silently singing “[Look at her] walking by her Side, talking by her side, have pity, They are going through the unimaginable.” Hillary and all progressive politicians are fighting to keep our children safe, black, white, Asian, or dressed in blue.

2016 Texas Democratic Party Convention. Day 0

The 2016 Texas Democratic Party Convention begins tomorrow. The requisite kickoff parties are underway, but the exciting bits don’t begin until we greet the sun again. We will see how the first state Democratic party convention will function after Bernie Sanders shifted his highly impressive campaign from running against AAA-Fund endorsee and presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to seeking policy changes within the Democratic party. We will see speeches from, among others, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Housing and Urban Development Secretary and rumored potential running mate Julian Castro, and High School Democrats Executive Vice Chair Liana Wang. Perhaps most exciting of all, we will see the election of an Asian American at-large DNC committee member.

Several qualified, very hard-working Democrats are seeking election to this new seat, and there’s one candidate who I see as the clear choice — Benjamin Chou. I’ve known Chou for years; we worked together on a non-profit board. You don’t have to take my word for it. Chou has endorsements from many notable Democrats including Nick Chu, Martin O’Malley, and, perhaps most importantly, Bel Leong-Hong. Chou is an incredible young man from Sugar Land who has worked with CAPAC and in Nancy Pelosi’s office. Young Asian American LGBT DNC member from Texas sure sounds like a way to send a message to Trump and his ilk. Chou wants to be that message and he will work in his capacity in the DNC to end the super delegate system, unify the party, make Texas a swing state, and push for paid campaign fellowships. Chou the vote!

– Justin Gillenwater

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