07/25/2017

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.

AAAFund Stands United Against Muslim Ban

Asian American Action Fund

The Asian American Action Fund (AAA-Fund) stands united against the presidential executive order which has suspended resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspended all other refugee resettlement for 120 days, and banned the entry of nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days. The order arbitrarily targets people from nations with large Islamic cultures. We stand united with all organizations that seek to protect the rights and liberties of those detained because of the president’s discriminatory actions.

AAA-Fund represents diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. Many of our AAPI brothers and sisters are Muslims. We stand united in protecting the rights and liberties of everyone in the nation, regardless of race or religion. As Americans, we oppose the president’s actions because it goes against the very bedrock of our nation. We were founded by a people seeking religious freedom. America is the only nation on the earth created based upon a belief that every person has an equal right to life and liberty. By detaining people on the basis of religion, the current administration is acting unconstitutionally and immorally.

We pledge to work tirelessly toward an inclusive and democratic vision that ensures the safety, self-determination, and well-being of all people. As a country, we need not sacrifice our core values and constitutional traditions on the pretense that it will strengthen our security. We can do better, and we must.

Religion in Election 2016

I’ve run this blog as a credible place of AAPI progressive political blogging as Executive Editor for 6 years. Before and during that time, I’ve written primarily about religion. Religion commands a high role in this campaign, always before & more so now. Simple soundbytes ignore truths & endlessly prolong religion-politics debates. Drumpf’s lies to justify exclude Muslims and being anti-Semitic require punishment. His self-contradicting lies make it not worth debunking each one slowly, it’s a losing war of attrition. His genius is we so busily intelligently debunk each that he’s 10 lies ahead by the time we’re done with the first. Time is opportunity cost so we can’t waste time dealing with lies when there are too many. A better tactic than our usual credible fact checking is tangible to make his vision’s problems more apparent. He expands his religious hate speech if we don’t smartly fight him. So here’s how the professionals do it (he doesn’t believe in pros but I do):

  1. write your Congressman – they listen as they only care about votes, money’s nice but votes count for the most
  2. help a campaign – they only think donate and volunteer time but I’m talking in a more technical capacity with skills like advancing social media or coding a website or calculating redistricting or something smart
  3. help US – write, comment, more than you’re doing now, offer your help or be quiet, you’re with us or against us as silence is an enabler and inaction is a choice
  4. write – don’t just stupidly re-post on social media, idly re-posting with 1 touch, instead write for a credible place like here or HuffPo or DailyKos or anywhere that increases the level of political rhetoric or, heck, us
  5. register and vote – don’t just be a whiney millennial who SnapChats that there’s no app to tell you where & what to vote, act like the adult you are not & take responsibility for your first time ever

That’s how you do it.

Religion & politics is far too vast a topic for any ease forum much less social media. Idle, simplistically misleading, or plain-lies social media posts should justify plain hate speech. I blame it partly for the current depraved state of political rhetoric. Nothing can be said without becoming instantly politicized before the sentence is even over, after just 3 words, the judgements begin. Such a low level of IQ is debased, hopeless, don’t bother, just ignore it. Worse than allegations of Facebook’s altering its News Feeds for its employee’s politics is its mere existence breeding all the worst in poor communications. Only Facebook #ValleyBros paid $195k to do $70k-level work could be evangelists for Facebook’s so-called improving humanity when it’s really just degrading communication & increasing misunderstandings for anything beyond Candy Saga (a dumb Facebook-related game).

I won’t use religious terms to argue for Congressional action to not let suspected terrorists from buying assault bans because evangelicals lost the culture war in the bathroom & lost but we all lose when they continue their banal war into new and surprising areas. The loss of abortion rights blinds Catholics & their like (despite Catholics using birth control more than non-Catholics, haha) and religious folks (Hasidic Jews, Muslims, etc.) are silent on selling assault weapons. One could say religious folks shouldn’t be in politics, that they do, they anger & divide & disable progress instead of leading an inspiring call to a better world, but they are in it & we must call them out as such.

Americans gleefully ignore and trash the separation of church & state as few have any education in its history. Few are intellectually curious then able enough, and then the few who are merely work for the Becket Fund (I delete the rest of their name as it’s intentionally misleading) which works for strange causes as their funding is opaque. Follow the money with any religious politics to know who’s paying who to say what. Be guardful, America is at stake.

2016 DNCC Platform for AAPIs

Yesterday, the Democratic National Convention issued a draft of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform (Draft). We quote the sections relevant to the AAPI community so you can tell your elected officials which helps our goal of increasing AAPI progressive political involvement.

draft watermark repeating

DNC Draft Platform

Create Good-Paying Jobs

Youth Jobs

Democrats will create millions of jobs for our young people. Roughly one in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 is unemployed, more than twice the national average. The unemployment rates for African American, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and American Indian teenagers are far too high. That is why Democrats will provide direct federal funding for a range of local programs that will put young people to work and create new career opportunities.

Bring Americans Together and Remove Barriers to Create Ladders of Opportunity

Racial Wealth Gap

America’s economic inequality problem is even more pronounced when it comes to racial and ethnic disparities in wealth and income. It is unacceptable that the median wealth for white Americans is roughly ten times that of African Americans and Latino Americans. These disparities are just as stark for American Indians and certain Asian American subgroups. The racial and ethnic gap in wealth and income has been created by historical and contemporary policies and practices that discriminate against people of color and constrained their ability to earn income and build assets to the same extent as other Americans.

This economic disadvantage has accumulated over time and is made worse by ongoing discrimination. For example, as a result of the housing crisis and the great recession, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans lost more than half of their net worth. And these losses were compounded by the fact that during the subprime mortgage crisis lenders targeted communities of color for faulty mortgages.

Democrats believe it is long past time to close this racial wealth gap by eliminating systemic barriers to wealth accumulation for different racial groups and improving opportunities for people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds to build wealth.

Criminal Justice

Democrats are committed to reforming our criminal justice system and ending mass incarceration. Something is profoundly wrong when a quarter of the world’s prison population is in the United States, even though we have less than five percent of the world’s people. We will reform mandatory minimum sentences and close private prisons and detention centers. We will rebuild the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Across the country, there are many police officers who inspire trust and confidence, deploying creative and effective strategies, and demonstrating that it is possible to reduce crime without relying on unnecessary force. We should learn from those examples and build on what works.

We will invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the appropriate use of force, and encourage better police-community relations and the use of smart strategies like police body cameras. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals, based solely on race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We support states and localities that choose to make the investigations and prosecutions of police-involved shootings more independent and transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process. And we will explore reforms of the civil asset forfeiture system. Instead of investing in more jails and incarceration, we need to provide greater investment in jobs and education, and end to the school-to-prison pipeline. We will remove barriers to help formerly incarcerated individuals successfully re-enter society by banning the box, expanding reentry programs, and restoring voting rights. We will prioritize treatment over incarceration in tackling addiction and substance use disorder. This means significantly expanding treatment in this country for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

We have been inspired by the movements for criminal justice that directly address the discriminatory treatment of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians to rebuild trust in the criminal justice system.

Provide Quality and Affordable Education

Minority-Serving Institutions

We will strengthen our nation’s public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions by providing a dedicated fund of tens of billions of dollars to keep costs down, provide a quality education, and provide dedicated support to improve student outcomes and completion rates. These schools play an important role in building opportunity and creating a diverse workforce.

Ensure the Health and Safety of All Americans

Democrats believe that it is not right that your zip code or census tract is a predictor of your health, which is why we will make health equity a central part of our commitment to revitalizing communities left behind. Democrats believe that all health care services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate. And we should disaggregate data collection for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because data disaggregation is a necessary step in fully understanding the needs of the AAPI community for all government services.

Immigration

Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and history. We must defend against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants.

Foreign Affairs

Asia-Pacific

From the Asia Pacific to the Indian Ocean, we will deepen our alliances in the region with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, and Thailand.

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