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Guest Speaker: Margaret Huang on Asian American Advocacy

Our keynote speaker for the 2020 Community Gathering, Margaret Huang, CEO and President of the Southern Poverty Law Center highlighted the following areas of urgent action with the new presidential administration in January 2021:

  1. End, close all federal detention camps and centers. 500,000 individuals are currently in detention.
  2. Focus on ending poverty. Micronesian, Bangladeshi, and Hmong Americans all have poverty rates at least 50 percent higher than the national average Citation: https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/29646f09-bf04-4f11-a12f-544b27a3a85f/aapi-fact-sheet-final.pdf
  3. Ensure access to voting and protection of voting rights in America. Work to increase voter turn-out of Asian and Pacific Islander American voters.

To show your thanks to Margaret for being our keynote speaker (free of charge), please consider a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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Solidarity Statement and Call to Action

[The Board of Asian American Alliance of Marin, September 2020]

Standing in solidarity for basic human rights and the elimination of structural racism is an ongoing quintessential moral position—and not merely a temporary political position. All members of the Board of Asian American Alliance of Marin (AAAM) express our deepest grief over the tragic loss of Black lives—more recently George Floyd, Ahmand Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor, but the list goes on—under the unjust fatal force of law enforcement. We denounce the historical and ongoing oppression of our Black brothers and sisters from state-sanctioned violence and systemic oppression. We also recognize that the fight towards freedom and equality for all Americans, especially those people of color historically oppressed in America, is truly what should be embodied in the freedom our country celebrates on the 4th of July.

We call for the recognition that the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s was spearheaded and guided by Black leaders. We must recognize that the “safety” that we Asian Americans value so much—owning properties, being able to get bank loans, having equal access to education—would not have been possible without the groundwork that Black civil rights advocates tirelessly built both historically and presently. Activists and communities of Indigenous and other People of Color joined Black leaders to  institute important, long-overdue policies and laws that ensured that non-Whites had access to the same civil rights as Whites, such as the right to vote, the right to citizenship, and the right to purchase real estate. We must recognize that it was the Black leaders of the Civil Rights Movement who made possible the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which in turn became the foundation of the Immigration Rights Act of 1965. This comprehensive immigration law opened the door to America for many Asian immigrants, transforming the lives of families for generations to come.  

We also call for the acknowledgment that racial disparity is a pressing issue in Marin County, a disparity which attests to larger, historically racist structures that continue to operate in our county and country. Race Counts, a multi-year, multi-institutional project that uses statistics to measure levels of racial disparity in California, ranks Marin County as the highest in racial disparity in the state.    

Finally, we call upon the Asian American community—including AAAM’s own constituents in Marin County—to reflect on our own roles, responsibilities, and actions as allies in solidarity with the Black community. Throughout the global history of colonization, Asians have had complex and varied roles with respect to the scourge of White supremacy. Under the colonization of our Asian homelands and in the racist environment of the United States, many have suffered similar violence and oppression as our Black brothers and sisters. However, many others in our Asian community were relatively privileged and fared well through compliance within a society built on white privilege. There is still much work to be done to address the complicated dynamics and conflicts, not only between Asians and other communities of color, but also between Asian communities with a wide range of intersectional identities.

We will always remember the courageous Asian American ancestors and activists who fought against racial discriminination and contributed to the important institutional changes in America. On the other hand, our own family wisdom may have taught us that compliance, assimilation, and silence within the White-dominated system grants us safety, if not also the illusion of power and prestige. There are deeply-rooted biases in our historical and cultural upbringings that helped us survive the injustices of the same globalized White-dominated system. If we truly care about respecting Black lives, which is the fundamental precursor to actually valuing all human lives, then we have to work to understand and correct our own implicit biases in our Asian community as well. 

The Board of Asian American Alliance of Marin recommits our organization’s mission of advocating for social and racial justice. We also commit to creating more opportunities for anti-racist reflections, dialogues, and actions in which all members of the Marin County community can participate.

AAAM’s 2020 Virtual Gathering

On November 6, 2020, AAAM continued the tradition of our annual community gatherings–virtually to keep everyone safe during the pandemic. The recordings of the gathering are here:

We encourage all to donate to Southern Poverty Law Center for the important advocacy work they do! AAAM Board offers up to $500 of matching fund when you ear-tag a donation for Southern Poverty Law Center before December 15, 2020. We also urge you to become a member of AAAM, or make a general donation to AAAM.

Notes from the Gathering

(Thank you, Kathy Takemoto, for organizing the notes!)

Our keynote speaker, Margaret Huang, CEO and President of the Southern Poverty Law Center highlighted the following areas of urgent action with the new presidential administration in January 2021:

  1. End, close all federal detention camps and centers. 500,000 individuals are currently in detention.
  2. Focus on ending poverty. Micronesian, Bangladeshi, and Hmong Americans all have poverty rates at least 50 percent higher than the national average Citation: https://www.jec.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/29646f09-bf04-4f11-a12f-544b27a3a85f/aapi-fact-sheet-final.pdf
  3. Ensure access to voting and protection of voting rights in America. Work to increase voter turn-out of Asian and Pacific Islander American voters.

To show your thanks to Margaret for being our keynote speaker (free of charge), please consider a donation to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Summary of Community Announcements 

Asian Commercial Professionals for scholarships.  Contact: Stuart Lee, asiancompro.com

Marin African American Professional Network (MAAPN). Contact: Otis Bruce,  (415) 798-1529 or email obruce1999@gmail.com.

Marin Asian Advocacy Project. Contact Vinh Luu, vluu@marinaap.org

Sonoma County Japanese Americans Citizens League. Contact: Phyllis Tajii, sonomacajacl.org. Membership is currently $10/year, regularly $20/year. 

Marin Interfaith Council. Contact: Mark Noguchi , Board Member, mnoguchi@comcast.net

Trips for Kids Marin. Contact: Bec Detrich : https://www.tripsforkidsmarin.org/  Working to provide transformative cycling experiences for youth from communities who have been historically marginalized from cycling. We welcome all to our Re-Cyclery bike shop in San Rafael

Marin County Race Equity Planning Committee. Contact: Mo De Nieva-Marsh, marincounty.org/equity, equity@marincounty.org

Women’s Rights and Peace of Bay Area. Contact: Jong Lee, wrapba.org. High school and college students learn about Korean Comfort Women during WWII. 

Marin YMCA Learning Hubs. Contact: Jason Lau,  https://lau.news/ymca

Marin Nakayoshi Club. Contact: Kathy Takemoto, kathy.takemoto@outlook.com. Scholarships for high school seniors of Japanese descent.

College of Marin. Contact: Anna Pilloton, apilloton@marin.edu.

Asian American Alliance of Marin also sponsors the Asian Pacific Heritage Festival each spring. Your $20 membership in AAAM helps to support this event each year. To join, send a check to Jong Lee, AAAM Treasurer, P.O. Box 151401,San Rafael, CA 94915-1401.

Our Thanks to the Discussion Group Facilitators:

  • Jei Africa, Marin County Mental Health Services
  • Otis Bruce
  • Sue Lim Yee, AAAM
  • Faye Padayachee, San Rafael High School
  • Malcolm Govender
  • Mureen De Nieva-Marsh
  • Cesar Lagleva

Thank you again for joining us!

Join us virtually!

Click to Register for FREE

This year, the AAAM community will be gathering online on Friday, November 6, 2020 at 6pm! Connecting through Zoom, we will socialize and have social justice topics discussions, as well as share community announcements as we had before. Our guest speaker will be Margaret Huang, who is internationally recognized for her leadership in social justice and human dignity advocacy against discrimination and oppression in all of its forms. She is currently the president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its Action Fund. Prior to this, Ms. Huang served as the executive director of Amnesty International USA.

After Ms. Huang’s presentation, we will have breakout room-discussions on the following Social Justice topics:

  • Racial Justice & Black Lives Matter
  • Educational Equity: Structural Racism & Justice in School Curriculum
  • Racism in the Workplace
  • Anti-Asian Sentiment during Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Mental Health during Covid-19 Pandemic

And we will end with AAAM & Community Announcements! See you there!

Click to Register for FREE

AAAM Delivered Lunches to Essential Workers

With generous donation from David Wong- State Farm Agent, AAAM has provided 40 complimentary meals from Pearl Novato to essential workers at 8 board and care homes: Terra Linda Christian Homes in San Rafael, L’Chaim in San Rafael, Young at Heart in Novato, Sundance Villa in Novato, & The Anton Pointe in Novato. Thank you, AAAM Board members Josephine Pelletier and Sue Lim Yee, for making the arrangements!