OCA Staff and Interns Demand Accountability in Open Letter

The title of a blog post published in 2013 by @changeOCA, a Tumblr account created by former OCA interns documenting their termination from the organization that year. The 2013 incident is referenced by the author of this post, but ChangeOCA is not directly affiliated with the writing of this post. (Source: Tumblr / ChangeOCA)

By Guest Contributor: Anonymous

For recent college graduates with a passion for social justice, non-profit civil rights organizations make a compelling offer: work for us, make the world a better place, and receive a salary and an office in the bustling heart of downtown Washington, D.C. What better way to apply your bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science than to spend a year working to advance Asian American civil rights in our nation’s capital?

The pitfalls of non-profit work are, of course, well known. Non-profit employees — typically the young and idealistic — are expected to compromise themselves to benefit the ‘greater good’. They are asked to accept poorer salary and workplace mistreatment, and are warned that to do otherwise indicates insufficient commitment to the cause. At some prominent civil rights organizations in the Capital, problems run even deeper than that.

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Solidarity is Love: Taking Asian Diasporic Feminists Back to Black and Asian Feminism in the ’60s

The cover of the Sept-Oct 1972 issue of 'Triple Jeopardy'.

By: Victoria M. Huỳnh

Nearly eight months into 2020, and there is so much to grieve. We are amidst a global pandemic leaving Black, Indigenous, incarcerated, and immigrant communities most vulnerable. Black-led uprisings in the imperial core enraged by the white supremacist murder of George Floyd should have shaken the world awake again: the US internally robs and exploits Black life in duty of its imperialist project that is the US empire. Worldwide, the US empire continues to manifest its devastation in crippling US economic sanctions amidst the bombing of Lebanon, ongoing US-backed Israeli occupation of Palestine, impending US imperialist aggression to China towards a Cold War 2.0, and more. 

To locate this moment, as non-Black Asian diasporas in the imperial core seeking solidarity with Black and other Third Worlded peoples, is to know this moment is fraught with deep struggle since times before ours. It is also yet a  urgency of committing to Black revolutionary praxis in their fight for a new world— knowing no Black life should have been lost to US empire in the first place. If we fall back on bell hooks’ reminder that, love is profoundly political. Our deepest revolution will come when we understand this truth,” we are forced to rethink what is so necessarily meant by “love” in and beyond these times. And if solidarity is love, we should be pushed to pursue a solidarity that is not just conscious of being against white supremacy, US imperialism, patriarchy, or global capitalism [wrongfully marketed] as separate systems– but a solidarity for an anti-imperialist, socialist, decolonized world that necessitates Black liberation– and which knows we must take down the US empire in its entirety to achieve so. 

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Lifting the veil on conditional whiteness: A wake-up call to Asian Americans still holding on to the Model Minority Myth

An image of Trump's notes at a press conference wherein the word "corona" is crossed out and replaced with the word "Chinese". (Photo credit: Getty)

By Guest Contributor: Dorothy He

Over the past few months, many non-Black Asian Americans across the country watched as our racial status began shifting, after years of living within and sometimes even openly accepting the confines of the Model Minority Myth. Several of these “positive” stereotypes have long been passively or even actively accepted by many in the Asian American community, such as the ones perpetuated by Andrew Yang during his presidential campaign — for instance, the idea that all Asians are doctors, are smart and like math, and won’t speak out or cause trouble. Such stereotypes have not only caused untold damage to the well-being of Asian Americans and stymied attempts at solidarity within our communities and in relation to other communities of color, but they never offered any genuine protection of our status or proof of our “Americanness” to begin with.

Those who trusted in the power of conditional whiteness to protect Asian Americans harbored a belief that a stable income, a respectable profession, and a low profile could somehow protect us from racist and completely unfounded attacks. They are wrong. Conditional whiteness is dangerous precisely because of its roots in white supremacy vis-à-vis capitalism; ultimately, it weaponizes people of color against their own communities by making individuals complicit in perpetuating racism and exhibiting dominance over other nonwhite bodies — in particular, Black and Brown bodies — in their journey to reach the American Dream.

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Hmong Americans Are Not Simply “Caught up” in America’s Racial Conflicts. We are Actively Engaged In It.

A protester holds up a sign that says "Hmong 4 Black Lives". (Photo credit: Melody Vaaj via BBC)

By Guest Contributor: Kong Pheng Pha

Conversations have proliferated on social media debating Hmong Americans’ position in the ongoing racial conflicts in the U.S. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, one of them a Hmong American, warrants a reflection on the place of Hmong Americans in the revolution.

A New York Times article by Sabrina Tavernise attempted to examine the position of Hmong Americans in the murder of George Floyd. The article tried to present a balanced view of where Hmong Americans are situated in this ongoing revolution without fully putting Hmong Americans on either “side” of the conflict. However, this concerted effort to present ‘two sides’ fails to reflect where many Hmong Americans are: we want police to be held accountable for Floyd’s murder as much as any other community who possess any sense of equality and justice.

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Working people are uprising. Where are the institutions that are supposed to represent them?

Protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, MN in 2015 in response to the shooting of 18-year-old Tania Harris. (Photo credit: Flickr / Fibonacci Blue)

By Guest Contributor: Gregory A. Cendana

Working class people, particularly femmes, queers and non-binary folks, impacted disproportionately by a global pandemic and health crisis are leading the largest uprisings in United States history in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Our country is in a moment of reckoning as it navigates two viruses: COVID-19 and racism. A pandemic within an endemic. 

Through the turmoil, Black organizers are helping us reimagine safety in our communities without police, and a world that centers humanity and joy — not profits, corporations and property. Being raised in a union household and after spending a decade of my life working with organizations advancing worker, immigrant and civil rights, I learned these values were also shared by many rank and file workers and more and more people across the country. 

From being a part of the Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to serving as the immediate past Executive Director for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, my experience is grounded in years of organizing with working people across the country and addressing anti-Black racism and anti-Blackness in my family and the broader Asian American community.

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