Civil Rights

Meet Yuh-Line Niou: First Asian-American to Represent Chinatown, NYC

Yuh-Line

She trained here,studied here, got her footing here in Seattle. The influence of so many longstanding Asian Pacific American mentors within social justice movements has changed the way younger APAs see themselves in positions of influence. Go Yuh-Line! (She was also my neighbor for many years here in Ballard.)

 

Questions to ask students:

What is an elected representative?

What should an elected representative be like?

How do you choose the right candidate for you?

 

Here are a few easy and free lesson plans we find useful:

 

Click Here Or The Image Above For The Story 

 

Memory and Renewal: Tanforan Assembly Center

2017 marks 75 years since the first Japanese Americans we forced into assembly centers and then to concentration camps throughout the United States.

Here in Western Washington American citizens and their parents were held at the Puyallup Fairgrounds– renamed Camp Harmony and then most were sent to Minidoka camp in Idaho. “Except in Portland, Pinedale, Sacramento, and Mayer, large fairground or racetracks were selected to minimize the need for building extra housing. At the racetracks, stables were cleaned out for use as living quarters. At the Portland Assembly Center over 3,800 evacuees were housed under one roof in a livestock pavilion subdivided into apartments.” (Densho Project Website)

Tanforan was a racetrack.

When we consider the events and the rhetoric of today’s electoral race, the importance of memorializing this tragic era of American history is not simply a message for those whose families share the direct legacy: It is for all the country to consider whether we will be complicit in this happening again, or not.

 

El Cerrito: WWII Tanforan Assembly Center story mirrors today’s issues

A Season to Vote

API Voters.Wooedbyparties.2016
API Voters Remain a Major Swing Vote in the Upcoming Election

 

 

“The Asian-American voter pool is remarkably diverse, ranging from Pakistanis and Indians to Chinese and Koreans.” That is the ethnic breakdown in the state of Virginia in an article from the Wall Street Journal. In Washington State we would add the populations from the Pacific Islands as well. This means the diversity of the Asian and Pacific American voting public is as varied as any other groups. Outreach by both major political parties will need to contend with this diversity. To the list we can confidently add: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao, Japanese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Hawaiian, Fijian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan and a dozen other ethnicities.

The reality for political campaigns is that there is an assumption that if you reach one of these groups, you’ve reached them all. I very clear terms, that simply is not the effect.

In 2012, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans were a major factor in the elections; some have argued that we collectively were the most significant swing vote in that national and state-level elections.

Yet in the subsequent years, voter turnout in these populations droppedAPIvoterturnout.2014

I pointed this out at the dinner table this past summer. I was happily surprised at how interested my kids were in the topic.

My daughter entered her fourth grade class with the expectation that she would learn everything she needed to know about voting, elections and the Constitution. We are several weeks into the school year and I am trying to manage her expectations a bit. What I am struck by, is that she is committed to this idea of voting. Participation in elections, for her, is as important as her own interests in sports, arts and music. In essence; being a voter is an important part of her identity. She was disappointed that the right to vote wouldn’t be hers until she turned 18, because as she stated, “I’m a citizen now.”

What this triggered was a series of questions of whether the American voter– in particular Asian and Pacific American voters– saw the right to vote as inherent to their identity.

  • Does the right to vote coincide with the identity of being a citizen?
  • How do our next generations see themselves within our political process?
  • What is so important about voting?

 

Attempting to Close a “Gene-race-nal” Gap

From the San Francisco Chronicle: June 12, 2016

Letters Home: Asian Americans in Support of Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

“Dear Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie, Grandfather, Grandmother: We need to talk. You may not have grown up around people who are black, but I have. Black people are a fundamental part of my life: they are my friends, my classmates and teammates, my roommates, my family. Today, I’m scared for them.”

So begins a powerful letter involving hundreds of Asian American collaborators from across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter, co-written in the aftermath of last week’s fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers.”

Check out the actual letter here. There is a companion video as well.

 

Examining the Four Freedoms of FDR on WNYC

 

Quick Post: Listen to John Hockenberry in a series exploring the Four Freedoms as defined by FDR in January 1941 as:

  • Freedom of speech

    FDR-Congress-1941-resize-
    1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivers his State of the Union Address which includes his detailing of the Four Freedoms.
  • Freedom of worship
  • Freedom from want
  • Freedom from fear

Not only did this State of the Union Address create, in a way. a new foreign relations doctrine as he presented them, it was seen by  and is still seen by many as a FDR’s doctrine for life in the United States.

 

How and where does FDR’s speech reach Asian Americans? Has the nation lived up to the promise of being free from fear? The irony is not lost on the reader of history, nor the guests Mr. Hockenberry invites to the studio.

https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#ondemand/595333

 

Fast forward to time 25:14  to hear from Japanese American ceramicist Setsuko Winchester:

https://www.wnyc.org/radio/#ondemand/595308