APANO Workshop Interviews


Things when you’re done. Who is it that I like.

That’s a good idea because. I.


I think I get to be accorded some ideas. Julianne I’m going to be this facility in the post discussion here on here two years just come on. They did a workshop at my school and I heard about them they were only about one point five people back then and now as you know so the discussion is just going to be popcorn. If you have anything to him just feel free to speak out. And we also want to make sure

that we are continuing to grieve and again to stay engaged but also take care of yourself assume best intentions but also impact takes space and make space in that step by step back thing listen for understanding and expect and accept like close so they offer some questions and just a discussion that provides the space to really reflect on all the comments that we just heard maybe not necessarily intended to be a debate on the ascendancy. Peter we know that they all walked away from that discussion and

agreement and more exposure to that. But we really just want to make space to have a dialogue around that that we might not always make time and make space or perhaps this office back deeper. So that was of my introduction.

Great. Hi everyone. For those of you didn’t see me you kind of awkwardly waving in the front or if we haven’t met. My name’s Allen to Celia and helping Dmae Roberts. The reason why I’m here at this recorder is that I’m helping her put together a series of oral history recordings so I’m going to you know my role is to kind of strike this awkward balance between you know wanting to get the best recordings I can and not being too intrusive to try to disrupt the flow of the conversation. But for the sake of me getting the best audio I can I want to look at on a few little additional agreements to the ones that join introduced one since this would be on the radio maybe the first time you speak. Could you just say your name before

making your comment or question. The second thing is maybe just to make it a bit easier if you if someone speaking and you have the thought to maybe jump in on this you can signal to me and I can try to get to you with my mike while you’re talking. It’s also much easier for me and for the recording if you don’t interrupt when someone else is talking. And then if you you know if you’re responding to someone’s point you know it doesn’t always feel natural. As best you can maybe you know include the gist of that point in your in your comments because you just say no I don’t agree. I mean that’s fine. You know not everything has to be perfect for the radio but

it makes a little bit easier on my head if you have any questions about me to hopping around and putting my microphone. But thank you all for being willing to record it. I appreciate it. And I’ll be kind of like as people talk kind of disaster.


We all really need so it’s just to get started. Does anybody have any comments or reflections from that different thing that was me.

I am training. I think that is a pretty tall order. But I’m really glad that the discussion is is being started the collaboration between the API community as well as the African-American community. It’s going to be I think we should start now. But I don’t foresee any great changes for a long time but at least we’re starting.

Yes I think a little bit like when when you say you don’t see any changes for a long time what makes what makes you say that this is a new concept.

I think that there’s got to be a willingness for all people in both communities and knowing the Chinese community. That’s that’s a tall order. Just trying to rally them and change their thinking. And because we have many different generation at least three or four generations of Chinese here the immigrants all the way to the third generation. That so much younger generations the older generation that you need to convince to change your attitudes because they’re very oh how they say it

kind of self-contained stuck up not stuck up but they just have their own set of values and attitudes.

So I’d like to add to that this is Jenny CEU about the Chinese community I was raised by two immigrant parents that immigrated over from Hong Kong in Saigon Vietnam and I often think when we’re talking about barriers and trying to get people on the right page about helping each other and solidarity that we forget what American communities are dealing with a lot of trauma we’re also dealing with surviving and dealing with trying to make a living and asking them to work for peace and justice for another community can oftentimes feel like an

extremely tall order like what Trina said. So I’d like to. I don’t know how to get past that but I’d like to figure out ways to talk about it where it doesn’t feel like. Another thing against working against their survival.

I’m Julia Withers and yeah I wanted to build off your point about like there’s already so many obstacles and hardships that like AAPI community goes through especially like near immigrants. And I was thinking that just like having if we build from like the most the group that faces the most suffering then we will all be free like we were talking about earlier in the panel. We’re not free to we’re all free and so by working for those freedoms for everyone then we all benefit. But I totally see your point I think that’s a really tough decision especially when well for example I’m like second or third generation I’m not sure it’s counted differently sometimes. But like I don’t know any of the suffering that my

grandparents went through when they immigrated here and I basically I’m writing on all of the hard work and sacrifices they made. So it’s like I’m pretty separate. I have a degree of separation from their suffering and so I feel like super fired up about fighting anti blackness. But my grandparents were actively I can’t communicate with them like I of the language barrier. And so I don’t really know how to do that. But I also know they’re pretty anti-black. They hold a lot of anti-black feelings. So that’s like a hard place for me and my mom only knows like sixth grade level Cantonese and so she can’t even really translate for me.

So that’s a challenge.

June Reyes: Yes. So like in thinking about this you know patrolling versus I guess kind of girly and you know I’m not Chinese but I am Asian and sort of when we are talking about race as sort of this more of this like it’s not biological you know it’s really how we’ve been grouped by you know the folks found this country white people and so thinking about that. You know I’m like you know getting lumped into being Asian and thinking about you know the Chinese community and what’s kind of reflected amongst all the other Asian communities. When when we have this sort of division. And so what is the

role of other Asians who kind of gets pulled into those same stereotypes together. And so there’s sort of that division as well. Like OK well then how do we really. How do we come together and we always now always feel like you know in these discussions it’s likely our API is but talk about Pacific Islanders and our struggles are also very different and similar and so so so that kind of has got me thinking about that piece.

So do you mind saying my name is. Oh my name is Genny Chew. Oh my name is Junior Yes sir. I was meaning did you say one word.

My name is Genny Chew too. So I you know when we’re talking about different API than Chinese Americans and immigrant you know Asians that have immigrated over and all those sort of differences. I also think about I think it was Kyle upstairs on the panel Kyle Weiss ways in me that was talking about the difference between leadership can look many many different ways.

And I think about that in our own communities and what leadership looks like to Chinese-Americans and how really protesting and how that was so different and it was actually so alarming for me as someone I grew up in Oregon to see a whole entire Chinese community in the United States gather together for this one event for Peter Liang it was like so shocking to me because I had never put politics and Chinese-Americans in the same category in my sort of vision of what being an activist looked like. And I wonder about what activism is supposed to look like.

You know I don’t know if it’s culturally specific or think specific or what the context is but to sort of figure out what that looks like authentically for for us is an interesting is an interesting thing to mull over.

You miss it.

My name is Megan Esler. I think there there is a tradition of intercultural activism in this country. It’s very it may be almost invisible but it was brought to my attention through a Google Doodle just the other day because it was honoring a Japanese-American woman. Did you happen to see that. And she her name you have her name.

Yeah yeah. Yuriko and she was incredible.

And I did the research and looked it up and she got involved in the African-American civil rights movement and devoted the rest of her life to that. And I think there are these models that that we need to be more aware of. And I actually was very glad that we had someone there from Oakland. My daughter lives in Oakland and I have become more and more impressed with Oakland As in completely. Interesting mix of Latino Asian African-American white just I think doing a rather good job of trying to

deal with gentrification and all kinds of issues. But I get a real feeling when I’m visiting my daughter that activism there is reaching across several different many different cultural norms. And of course they have a lot of very new immigrants also who are are new to this kind of activism.

So I think there are some models out there.

And really the question.

Let’s all talk about this. So at a panel we talk and think about white supremacy as being a system that benefits white people at the expense of people of color. Knowing of course that this looks really different for different communities of color within that group. And even within that there are ways that we can uphold the system of white supremacy in our own communities. So faced with this system we really have three different options. One we can try to become a part of and benefit from that system which may look like imitating or striving for whiteness being more racist than the races that kind of

thing too. And we can only look out for ourselves and our community of API is focusing only on the disparities that exist for our communities and how that impacts us personally or three we can consciously choose to be part of resistance to this system and work toward liberation for all communities of color. So where do you see people making these choices around you.

Is it pretty apparent what informs those decisions and what happens what’s the result.

So talking about white supremacy and the the notion or not even the notion but the reality that it’s a social construct came to me very recently. I am 32 years old and I have lived in Portland in the suburbs in Beaverton for all my life and I think I was so I think I had assimilated so well that I didn’t have any Asian-American models in Beaverton. I didn’t have any friends. I think our table even you know in 2000 there was a small group of

A.P. eyes and then like three black kids I mean and it was like a sea of white. And so I think for me it was partly survival. I mean also allowing myself to be tokenized And just like oh I’m a young Asian girl you know it was it was all a sake of like trying to keep the peace and trying to reconcile the fact that I was very different but also wanted to be a part of some greater social narrative. I was never not without friends.

But you know what kind of friends make sure that they were my friends too.

It wasn’t all just making fun you know being me being asian all the time.

But you know and then there’s also this sense of power too right.

Because when you’re an other you’re also special. So for a very very long time I was really invisible to all these structures. And then I think just recently and even coming across articles and really learning about you know the 1882 Chinese exclusionary act like just last year which you know now to 2016 I would like to you know 2015 which is ridiculous.

You know I figure I think about this and I’m really just starting to enter a lot of this racial justice to work recently and like getting it very piecemeal and coming to talks like this.

And I have a real difficulty trying to figure out what is productive and what the sort of this idea like I like thinking about it like social justice on the macro and empathy on the micro So talking about I don’t know how to how to I guess reconcile positioning some people’s opinions and feelings and experiences in the structure over other people’s opinions and feelings and structures in the moment without feeling like we can’t get to a place of empathy and peace if we don’t carry all of it.

And so and I’ve seen time and time again just got through my recent experience that people’s individual humanities get reduced to their vernacular and language.

And I don’t know how to you know and I think it was Megan who was talking about Oakland and how they really try to get everyone involved and I think in Portland this work is so new that we’re like huddling in our own little corners. And and we haven’t really quite reached out yet.

Like the bridges haven’t really quite been built and I think we’re in this period where it’s like we’re trying to figure out how to build the bridges.

I just want to add that as I grew up you know I always see the elementary middle school and high school. There was always like a third African-Americans the third Asians third white and Seattle. Thank you.

I grew up in Seattle but and then also and I just started thinking you know my chinese american chinese my American Chinese and that kind of sense.

Well you know who am I in Scheme of the whole society. And then I guess there’s recently not recently but I teach at PCCs southeast campus. I teach as well which is English speakers of the languages. So does the PCC mission is inclusion diversity and there’s one more way.

So they’ve been a great emphasis on that as well as we’ve got various groups affinity groups. One of them is for the White affinity group. And then I’m part of it just started last year which I helped organize. It’s the faculty and staff of color. And so I just became more aware of this white supremacy. And personally I’ve encountered where first of all I said OK I’ve heard a comment very racist very stereotype. Is it or do I feel comfortable to engage with this individual or

group and allies. So I would say you know what you said really hurts me and it sounds like you’re attacking me racially or stereotype whatever but I’m becoming more aware that that we need to confront and you feel comfortable in the situation that confront individuals or groups and say you know that this is not right you know going back. So finally I think I’ve accepted it. I’d like to call myself his Chinese-American.


I belong to a group called the raging grannies and we’re a bunch of older women who are mad men not going to take it anymore. And we’ve been working on hate language and our response to overhearing or to hearing hate language of various sorts and and and how you respond to it because of course the first nine confronted thing that you want to do especially as a woman is to just OK everything’s fine just try to smooth it over. But that is of course not the right thing to do.

And I mean there are there were an awful lot of women up there in that group you know this is definitely something that bothers women more and I think because we can relate to it on several levels. So in our in our training we actually went to a response to hate language training. You know Trina we actually practiced skits because when you hear something you don’t have time. Most of us don’t have time to think up really good zingers. So we had little skits and little practice things to say. And I haven’t yet had a chance to actually use one yet. I

haven’t heard anything yet. But you know I’m sure it’s coming and it won’t necessarily change the world but at least you won’t be left as we usually are thinking. I should say something and not knowing what to say. And also of course having some fear involved there are scary situations but I feel that there’s some obligation to respond to remarks that you hear it

at the door OK.

There’s always another thing that I’d like to say about dismantling white supremacy is also understanding I think your own complicity in the structure and also noting that because it’s such an invisible structure that people aren’t going to see it right away and that it will always inherently seem like a personal attack. And to acknowledge that and also to meet people I think if we want if like our purpose is simply you know is for change and to get people to understand that this is all a structure that it’s not entirely your fault was not entirely my fault but we’re all part of it.

And addressing those moments with empathy and kindness and being like listen I know what’s really hard. You’re going to feel terrible. I know you’re pissed at me. But just take a look at it. And I think that’s really where addressing white supremacy for me has come from and I always talk about you know I don’t consider myself a capital activist.

I’d like to think I like to like because I’ve been surrounded by white people all in my life and I have a lot of white friends I almost kind of feel like my work is one on one and in conversations and I look at myself more like a social justice ninja like I come and I’m like a little girl and they’re like oh you know or they’re like I don’t believe you.

And then if anything at least the Nugget has been planted which when I look at my own sort of dismantling of of my own sort of shame and hate and racism of like being Asian-American and a very white community and that those nuggets are planted all along and that it took my whole journey probably took about five years of constantly feeling ashamed.

You know being in a city like San Francisco and feeling like the whitest Chinese person. And but because I had really generous friends who were overseas because there’s more people Cesar and Cisco that they were really generous of me like they would invite me to things that I felt very uncomfortable. You know they would talk about white supremacy and racism and I was like I don’t understand but then all of a sudden after five years it clicked.

So I think we have these conversations and we’re exhausted by them but we don’t know what the nugget. Later on when it when it will flower like when the seeds planted when it come out.

So I think we have to look at every opportunity in dismantling white supremacy as as progress and do what Megan said which is essentially hold our ground and say something and resist in the ways that we feel comfortable.

Oh yeah. OK. So I’ve been thinking about how I mean one problem I’ve seen where OK so I started my social justice journey in college when I suddenly realized I wasn’t white. I’m halfway and half Chinese and like where I grew up it was mostly white but also there were a lot of white people just like me like half Chinese half white too. And so I felt like I could basically like blend like in it like an amphibian and I could just like pass or do whatever and I didn’t think about it that much. And then when I came to school in Portland it was very different and I was suddenly like my dean came out to me who I didn’t know and like called me a person of color and I was like what. So that was a whole realization that

is still happening now but something that I’ve seen a lot with my friends who have also started their journey and are also API like they still really want to center themselves in that narrative. It’s like a it’s a process because of course we have to sort ourselves out like Kyle said earlier at the panel we have our own education before we decide to like be present or like make a lot of actual steps I think in different communities. But that’s just hard because there’s also this tension I see with a lot of people and I think it’s true that there’s a lot of silence around API struggles. And so it’s kind of like finding that balance I’ve really been torn between like centering other voices but

also saying hey I understand in some ways like API people suffer like you know experience similar things.

And so I’ve found that to be a challenge to it’s like fun toeing the line.

You know the first one was we can try to become part of and benefit from the system of white supremacy. The second one was that we can look at ourselves our community API and only focus on ourselves and within our community and why it hurts our community and what can benefit our community. And then the third one was we can consciously choose to be a part of resistance to that system of white supremacy and work toward liberation for all communities of color. I think just thinking about which of those three

pathways do you see play out in your lives most often.

And why do you think that is.

Let’s look at your life say my legs are getting really.

00:29:35 Gennie Chew:
This is a really easy answer for me and I think it’s different depending on what social context you’re in. So I feel like when I’m around APANO members and 82nd and Powell like I feel like the API community is very prevalent and very visible and active. But in my in my daily life and because I work downtown at an arts nonprofit and I grew up in the suburbs I feel I oftentimes I feel like there’s a lot of people that are just resigned to benefiting from white supremacy or assimilating and working the system. So Asian-Americans we’ve

certainly benefited from being a model minority like people think I’m really smart just because I’m Asian which I’m like you don’t know how smart I am but anyway. You know so there’s there’s I think it’s much easier it’s the path of least resistance and when you think about all sorts of different like the intersectionality of of identity politics and how you know even going to but never mind I’m going to bring something totally on and it’s going to open up the floodgates for you to talk about the queer community but you know when we think about the path of least resistance and what’s normal and what’s normalized. There’s also this

sense to I feel like a lot of PCs that have benefited are not benefited but have gotten jobs oftentimes reconcile in their minds emotionally and I know I’ve done this where you’re almost so thankful you’re like oh I got hired. Oh I’m part of this organization.

Oh. And then you start looking a little deeper and you’re like oh I’m an assistant. Oh I like work really long hours. OK.

You know and then there is this like there’s nothing wrong. And it’s much more difficult I think to fight this fight every day. And to be constantly looking at your own intent and what your impact is and to look at your uncle complicity as a person of color perpetuating the system that keeps that as oppressive to all different to everybody. So for me I see more people I think just being complicit.

I ask a follow up. You mentioned people sort of resigning themselves or being complicit. What does resigning yourself look like in your own life in your own context.

I mean I think resigning looks a lot like for me personally just thinking back as being an Asian-American woman allowing myself to be tokenized allowing myself to be sexualized allowing myself to be exhaustive sized in some really gross ways.

I also know that I have been given access to many white spaces many privileged white spaces because I was probably an Asian-American woman and not an Asian man. You know just the differences between that and I have a little brother and there’s this amazing book actually by Alex tiz on called Big Little man that won the Oregon Book Award in creative nonfiction I think in 2014 that talks about the Asian-American male experience in the United States and he touches upon being an Asian-American woman too.

And he talks about it they’re not comparative but being completely invisible as an Asian-American man in the sort of social sphere which sucks in general is power. Right. So we’re Asian-American women tend to be sexualized as either a sexual nymph or like the Super books. Bookish smart person right. And to be exotic sized in some ways is is better and can be utilized as power.

I don’t know what kind of power but it’s like compared to being invisible.

So I think the sort of path of least resistance and assimilating oftentimes I think for me looked a lot like you know the Japanese cartoons where like little Japanese and my kids are like laughing like Hee hee hee that was really funny but actually I feel really objectified right now. And I’m just going to laugh this joke off and I’m gonna move about and make you feel like that was a really funny joke when it really wasn’t a joke. So and I also think that it all also looks like you know taking jobs that

you I don’t know. I mean I. Yeah.

Does that answer your question.

For compliance.

Yes. OK. All right.

Well I don’t know about the last part benefitting. That may be but when I grew up very typical Chinese family my parents said you respect your teachers you know you don’t cause any problems that we don’t want.

We want to see good grades. And then when you finish going to college that was there was no discussion. And so yeah I grew up that way just being compliant and yes yes yes yes. And I think that that also fell into that then it created reinforce the stereotype of Chinese Japanese. You know we a quiet hard worker you know academically great. Actually I wasn’t that great but so I think that what I see myself is

the third point but resistance is not what I’m looking at.

What I’m looking at is more or less social justice changes where you know and where I think that with my intervention or you know discussions with white counterparts colleagues whoever that I’m hoping that there will be changes and it’s going to be a long long road but it is going to get there.

Oh because I think that if all of us API is you know look at it and say OK we’ve got to make these changes of white supremacy. And there’s different ways of doing it.

So I think about the spaces that I’ve been in nonprofits that I have enough that I have I guess that I know and thinking about how a lot of requirements there are required requirements now to get funding for example that you have sort of this diversity equity inclusion kind of analysis you have a statement. And so sometimes I feel torn because I know that we’re getting you know this means that OK we’re pushing people in sort of this direction to have this you know kind of equity lines and maybe it’s a racial equity focus but then it’s also become a business case. And so that’s kind of where I get kind of torn because

yeah you know this is how we get people on board. But you know there’s such a big moral imperative there that when it becomes used as a business case because it’s like hey you know 2042 we’re going to have majority of people in the US are not going to be white. And so you know we need to be able to reach out to people because those are going to be the populations are serving. But does that really do justice to the system that we’re trying to change. And so when I think about this question of complicity and sort of you know what you’re talking about like a social justice change a system change versus you know

maybe with honor versus kind of question to resistance. But you know how how do you make that leap from after having sort of this this nudge for the OK and get some funding this way once we have DTIC it to actually OK. Well does that in line with changing the system.

And if he can make that an easy move to go from that place to the other one yeah that brought up something for me that I have a really similar parallel because I just graduated from Lewis and Clark and there’s a lot of social movements there. And like I said I started my journey there and so I was really vigilant. I attended like you know I’ve been working on it consistently for the whole time I was there. And when Like I said an incident broke out that sparked a lot of attention and like outrage from our students. I saw a similar kind of like not tokenization but kind of like it’s cool to be interested in social justice for a lot of like incoming students. And so like there was a lot of Southern

participation when people hadn’t done like the understanding where they are positioned in white supremacy or in our society in like all sectors. And so it was really hard. And I ended up feeling really like self-righteous and like oh I’m the one who’s been working so hard in all these Rondo’s are coming in and like taking the microphone you know at our protests and stuff or I felt like one day we had like a sit in and people didn’t attend class and I was like appalled because there was no kind of discussion or meaningful resources or reflection about what was going on. And it seemed like people were just wanting to skip class and like be seen at a protest. And so like I got really upset but then I realized like social justice is about inclusion and

opening the door like if I’m going to be defensive and yelling at people for not understanding things that have been invisible to them then that’s a big barrier. And so that was a big realization for me. And even if like you said June that it’s a business imperative or some other motivation. Yeah it’s like would we would still take it over apathy or complicit compliance.

I’d also like to but for some people social justice the rationale for it needs to come from some place or whether it’s the cool factor in college colleges to be at a protest rally or whether it’s like the business case for nonprofits or for for profits or for the tech world you know because all the higher level skill you know employ employees that are coming or like all proceeds from like out of the country from different countries.

I don’t know. You know I think it’s important to sort of in flux and like the idea that I think when we look at urban centers like San Francisco or New York or like other places that have like very high concentrations of diversity and different ethnic and social cultural populations living together they get that chance to rub up against each other and like have relationships with each other and see each other’s faces.

And people’s kids start going to school and then they have those real relationships and then they don’t need to have these like you know protest rallies about racial justice because those human relationships have been built because you know and I think. I don’t know like that might be really idealistic but I think the sort of business case sometimes can have. I mean it’s a starting point and like I think we should always be critical of people’s intentions in this work because we also have to be critical of our own motivations of why we’re doing this as well and how we’re doing it.

But like let’s say I read this I think the BBC released was with the BBC. They released their like equity diversity and inclusion statement. It was like a five year plan or something and it was incredible and it was really extensive. They were doing some really what seemed to me like very radical basically parody counting heads talking about you know percentages appears CS and then at the end they’re like We know that this is just a starting point but we hope eventually that we won’t even have to think about these structures anymore because

it’ll just be diverse and inclusive.


Yeah it kind of depends you know like if it’s.


You know so angry or could you start to see it all around. Oh my goodness. Right. I think it’s interesting.

Oh he’d rather not understand OK things because that wasn’t connected to the panel it’s sort of like

OK now when the incident with Peter Liang occurred I was very angry. First of all and I’m saying this because I’ve been keeping this inside with the exception of a couple of people I’ve talked with. But first of all why did they send two rookies. You know usually it make common sense the same one experience. And then Peter who is a rookie and the fact also too is that I’m really happy that the judge and decreased his sentence instead of manslaughter.

And I was thinking what would happen if if if the cop who killed Gurley was African-American, what would be the reaction of the community the African-American community. And then also to how many white cops have not been indicted that have you know various various things you know and shot or killed or whatever. So I guess that part really really bothers me.

So what comes to me it’s come to my mind is that that whole social justice system is very abusive and very racist very stereotype and that needs to be changed.

So thank you for allowing me to get that out.

Of your heart really quick though. So one thought I had during the panel was just are we kind of didn’t talk about the fact that the prison industrial complex and the fact that like we’re celebrating that someone you know we’re mad someone isn’t going to prison. And just thinking about that in general I know similarly with the. Turner that his name the Stanford swimmer who got a lenient sentence for sexual assault. People are like he should be like it’s bad that he was an exception and he’s not going to prison but just thinking about the implications of demanding this kind of punishment that we know is a systemic problem and in general just like it’s probably I don’t know in my

opinion I think that we should not celebrate people. No we should not criticize. I don’t know. I read just that. Yeah.

Richard any knowledge that it’s also a specific act when we say someone should be go to prison for longer.