Joseph Santos

[00:00:00] Joseph Santos Lyons: For someone who’s been following racial justice politics for a long time. I wasn’t surprised and I we’ve been seen. A more conservative backlash within the Chinese community to arrange equity measures including affirmative action which we see as problematic. And so I think some signs of this division have appeared in the years before the officer fleeing. Case in the death and the killing of a colleague early. What

[00:00:32] are some of the things that come upon two of us all. From dialogue. And I don’t know what did you do.

[00:00:43] Joseph: You know early on that when the case. Came into the public domain we were listening to other Asian-American Pacific Islander groups across the country and we have organizations that we stay in touch with who are based in New York where this was all happening. And in many ways we took the lead. We both listened to the voices of community organizers in the New York City area.

[00:01:09] We took time to discuss internally within the organization about signing onto some public statements of support for Akai Gurley and really recognize the need for us to use this political moment to stand publicly and visibly out on that issue because we really felt that it was aligned with our values as an organization. We also knew that that would open it up open us up to being targeted potentially.

[00:01:35] And we published two open letters that were part of a larger national open letter through our communications in 2015.

[00:01:45] However the third when we published this spring on the heels of the local Chinese-American rally that happened at Pioneer Square definitely got us on the radar with other trainees American folks from the west side and so out of that we end up having more dialogue. So in addition to tonight’s event we’ve had a number of internal staff conversations board and with our members in particular with our young people our youth organizing programs. But tonight it’s a really interesting opportunity for us to. Go even deeper and by having members discuss with members about what does this situation mean for us and I mean in this local context of Oregon.

[00:02:29] Would you consider that there are tensions between the API community in an African-American community within Portland.

[00:02:39] I mean frankly I think there’s tensions between all of our communities. A lot of the time and I think communities of color in general are pitted against each other in part to distract from the systems of oppression the way whiteness and white supremacy and the way systems designed to benefit white people at the expense of people of color really necessitates communities of color not getting along. I [25.7] think specifically between Asian-American and black communities in Oregon in Portland I’m not familiar with any large scale incidents that are really galvanizing created crisis or tension between our communities. A pano since we were founded in the late 90s has made it a part of our mission to really work very closely with the African-American and black community. And so we have sought ways to build an ongoing relationship think about sharing resources how to share whatever access and power that we have and find ways to build alliances that are based on values with the African-American or black community. But that said there’s you know we just touched the tip of the iceberg and not all Asian American Pacific Islander organizations I think have that same mission. And part of our job is actually to support the education and the awareness of other Pacific Islander and Asian-American groups to see their issues as connected to the struggles of African-Americans here in this state.

[00:04:10] I have no doubt that the Chinese-American protests that happened downtown at Pioneer Square despite some of the best intentions to build connections with the black community did create more division for us and we’re And it and it’s been portrayed in the Asian-American community largely as. In opposition maybe to the interests of black lives.

[00:04:34] That was probably what led us to choose to publish the third open letter that was more specifically written by us and we paid a price in terms of Chinese-American folks in the west side being very upset about. Our public stance that was. Counter to what their position was that Peter Lang was a. Scapegoat and that he deserved leniency which we. Principally disagree with.

[00:05:02] What was that what was the gist of.

[00:05:04] That that you know this is definitely a tragic case. But ultimately we want our justice system to be held accountable. When officers.

[00:05:15] Maim or hurt or kill someone in the line of duty that they.

[00:05:21] Need to be held equally accountable and that we shouldn’t be making any special cases just because Peter Young is Chinese-American in this case. You know we don’t believe that. He was. Given a consequence that was disproportionate to. The. Crime.

[00:05:44] And. We disagree you know with any kind of leniency any kind of call for leniency for Peter Liang.

[00:05:54] We would much rather want to see us work together to change the overall system. And I think that there are. That was part of the message that trans American protestors here in support of Peter Liang. Were trying to articulate. But a lot of that I think gets lost. When you’re trying to also plead for leniency for this one person in this one case and it makes them an exception. We thought that that was not fair.

[00:06:23] Well it sounds like you’re getting a job if everybody kind of missed that.

[00:06:29] Maybe I mean something that came up today was interesting in our small group is that a lot of folks really struggle with feeling ownership around taking leadership.

[00:06:38] As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Oregon because they’re new because they’re not from here. I grew up here. My my my father Chinese My mom’s white. And sometimes I still don’t feel like I have.

[00:06:56] The foundation of speaking from the community. To use me as arrogance.

[00:07:05] So sometimes I feel like I don’t have the right foundation to speak for the community. But then I have to remember I guess two things. One is that no one ever speaks for the community.

[00:07:18] And secondly. In the last 10 years one third of all Asian American Pacific Islanders. Are new to Oregon. That population has grown so much that one out of every three Asian-American Pacific Islanders in this state. Are. In New. So being someone who is new to this community who has immigrated here from another state or another country. Shouldn’t. Rule you out from having a say in having a voice. And so I’ve been really encouraging especially our young adults who may be coming here because their families are coming here for school or for jobs to really begin to develop a deep sense of ownership.

[00:07:57] In terms of having a say in the future of who the state should and could be.

[00:08:03] OK. Well thank you so much.