07/21/2017

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.

Democratic National Committee Will Hold Future Forums at the Baltimore Convention Center

The 4th Regional DNC Future Forum will be held on February 11th from 9:00 a.m.  to 6:00 p.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center.

The morning portion will feature remarks from DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Democratic Governors Association Chair (DGA) Governor Dan Malloy, New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan, Baltimore Representative Elijah Cummings, and Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, and will feature a “State of the Region” presentation from Amy Walter, National Editor of the Cook Political Report. The morning portion will also feature forums with candidates for election for the following offices: Secretary, Treasurer, and Finance Chair.

The afternoon portion will feature remarks from DNC Chair Donna Brazile, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, Maryland State Democratic Party Chair Bruce Poole, and Eastern Caucus Chair Nancy DiNardo. The afternoon portion will also feature forums with candidates for election for the following offices: Vice Chair for Civic Engagement and Voter Participation, Vice Chair At-Large, and Chair.

All candidate forums will be moderated by April Ryan, White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Networks.

The DNC Future Forums will be open to the press and the public and will be livestreamed on Democrats.org and on social media for maximum audience participation.

Members of the public wishing to RSVP to the event can visit https://my.democrats.org/page/signup/baltimore-dnc-regional-future-forum-rsvp

Members of the public can submit questions for the officers through: http://my.democrats.org/page/s/baltimore-questions-for-future-dnc-leaders

WHAT: DNC Future Forum
WHERE: Baltimore Convention Center, 1 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201
WHEN: The program will run from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Press credentialing and check-in will be open at 7 a.m. There will be a mult box provided for cameras. If you are planning to bring a satellite truck, please email walkere@dnc.org for logistical information.

Introducing Amanda Ong

Amanda’s first piece was “On Appearance, Identity, and Thanksgiving“. Our first biography in this series is that of Executive Editor Richard Chen.

Amanda Ong is currently an undergraduate student at Columbia University in the City of New York, and has recently joined the AAA-Fund team as the Mike Honda Writing Fellow. Amanda is a double major in Creative Writing and Ethnicity and Race Studies. At Columbia she works on the Daily Spectator as a member of the copy editing team and is also a member of Columbia’s Asian American Alliance.

For a long time, Amanda struggled with her national and ethnic identities. Amanda’s paternal grandparents had lived in America since the 1950s, when they moved to America in an effort to escape the tide of Communism in China and raise their children. Her maternal grandparents had lived in Hong Kong and moved to America when her mother was a child in order to provide their children with a better education. After meeting in New York and getting married, her parents lived in Hong Kong for a number of years, where Amanda was born.

They later moved to Connecticut, then Northern California, and then Southern California, where Amanda was predominantly raised. There, she attended an elementary and middle school where she was the one of two Asian American students in her grade. This often caused her to feel unintentionally, and sometimes intentionally, excluded, and thus for a long time she tried to reject her Asian American and Chinese American identities. She instead tried to define herself simply as American, until realizing what a large role her Asian American and Chinese American identities had played in her life and how intensely she identified with concepts of pan-Asian American struggle. This realization drove her to become increasingly interested in Asian America history, Asian American theory, and social justice across all lines of race, gender identity, and sexuality. Now she is fiercely dedicated to political activist causes. At the heart of her dedication is her belief that love, empathy, and hope are radical and powerful tools that we can use to seek equity and justice.

Since childhood she has been a passionate writer, and has always been interested in the art of storytelling as a mode for spreading compassion and understanding. She hopes to use her writing as a means to mobilize around Asian American causes and political action. She believes there is a lot of power in the projection of Asian American voices and in the representation of Asian American stories. By writing and speaking out about her experiences and beliefs, as an Asian American and a human being, she believes that she can help educate and empower others on the nuances of Asian American politics and existence.

She is very excited about her new position with AAA-Fund, using her position as our Mike Honda Writing Fellow to advance social justice for AAPI.

Training Opportunity in Washington, D.C. for Women Interested in Running for Office

On Sunday, January 22nd, the Asian American Action Fund,  EMILY’s List, and a collation of organizations will be holding a training in Washington, D.C. for women who are interested in running for office for the first time. The training will be held from approximately 9 a.m.–12 p.m. in downtown D.C., location TBD. Please fill out the form below if you are interested in attending. 

The program is offered in collaboration with the Latino Victory Fund, Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, The New American Leaders Project, Emerge America, and Higher Heights for America.

Note: Space is limited and spots are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Signing up does not guarantee a spot in the training — we will send you an email by January 17th to confirm your attendance.
Follow this link to reserve your seat.

Run for Office, training with Emily's List and AAAFund

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