‘Prison destroys every human dignity’: Free Chol Soo Lee and the miscarriage of justice that united Asian-Americans

Free Chol Soo Lee paints a portrait of California in the 70s, full of radical college students, but its themes feel pertinent today. “The violence that Asian-Americans have faced lately has been in the news so much,” Director Eugene Yi says (anti-Asian hate crimes have risen around the world since the start of the pandemic). He sees the film as a way to “present these images of resistance to inspire people”, as well as open up conversations on criminal justice reform within the community. Lee’s story challenges the “model minority” myth often associated with Asian-Americans: he struggled with institutionalization and addiction, and after his release, was open about the difficulties of adjusting to life after prison and with his fame. For Yi, the story “presents this opportunity to ask what we expect of our heroes and our symbols, and the kind of perfection we expect.” 

Read more here.

MINK! — My Mom Fought For Title IX, but It Almost Didn’t Happen | Op-Docs 

Fifty years ago, on June 23, President Richard Nixon signed Title IX, the 37-word snippet within the Educational Amendments of 1972 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex “under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”  

As the first woman of color elected to Congress, Ms. Mink — and her path to office — was influenced by the discrimination she experienced in her personal and professional lives. Many doors were closed to her as a Japanese American woman, and she became an activist and later a politician to change the status quo.  

In “MINK!,” Wendy Mink narrates her mother’s groundbreaking rise to power and the startling collision between the personal and political that momentarily derailed the cause of gender equity in America. After Ms. Mink’s death in 2002, Title IX was officially renamed the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

Reviving the Islamic Sisterhood for Empowerment – Shifting From Hate to Health: Benefits of Leading From within Community

Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and white nationalism are weapons of racism promoting fear and isolation and putting individuals and entire communities at risk for stress, trauma, isolation, and poor health. Listen to the full session here!

The current social and political context fosters hate speech and acts of hate against Muslims and Jews. Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and white nationalism are weapons of racism promoting fear and isolation and putting individuals and entire communities at risk for stress, trauma, isolation, and poor health. By investing in organizations led by communities under attack—and through robust, genuine, and reciprocal relationships—grantee partners are shifting the focus from hate to health. In this Quick Take, hear from Jewish and Muslim leaders, and learn successful strategies to creating safer and more welcoming communities and drafting actionable steps for your organization.

Filipino Advocates for Justice: CA Reopening: COVID-19 Vaccine Education

Watch the recorded event video here!

Concerned about the CA Reopening or new variants? Still hesitant about taking the COVID-19 Vaccine? Don’t know where or if you or your children are qualified to get one?Filipino Advocates for Justice is partnering with UC Berkeley Pilipino Association for Health Careers (PAHC) and FACE (Filipino American Care Experience) which are faculty and doctors from Kaiser Permanente, to present to you an educational session all about COVID-19 Vaccine Resources, California Re-entry, and protecting your own health especially with new variants floating around.The highlight of the evening will be a live Doctors Q&A session featuring Dr. Camantigue and Dr. Ramirez from Kaiser Permanente Union City Medical Center. There will also be testimonials from our own community members about getting the vaccine, so please email any questions you have in advance to Aurora Sanchez, Community Outreach Worker at FAJ at This presentation will be bilingual in both Tagalog and English.

EPIC: Addressing Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Health Inequity & Needs

Watch the recorded event video here!

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing health inequities among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs). NHPIs in California are disproportionately impacted, having the highest case and death rates compared to any other racial and ethnic groups. Learn more about who makes up the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and the critical issues NHPIs face, including COVID-19 cases and vaccination rates. Community leaders will share more about the pandemic data, its impacts, and make recommendations on resources and policies to address NHPI needs. This session is in partnership with Empowering Pacific Islander Communities. We look forward to seeing you at this important discussion.

CAAL Fireside Chat: Suni Lee making history

Watch the video here!

We are very excited to launch our new CAAL Fireside Chats, informal conversations with CAAL staff and network leaders on issues and topics impacting our Asian Minnesotan community. This Friday we will be joined CAAL Executive & Network Director Bo Thao-Urabe and Representative Kaohly Her discussing the significance of local olympian and gold medalist Sunisa Lee’s win for the Hmong community and the importance of uplifting the perspective of women and girls.

Video: Massachusetts Town Hall on Anti Asian Racism

View the town-hall video here!

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled xenophobia and anti-Asian racism. But Asian Americans have experienced violence long before the pandemic. Join our town hall highlighting how the Asian American community in MA is organizing against racism and learn how to support our community during the pandemic. Transcript available here:

AAU Statement on Violence Against Asian Community + Resources & Action Items

AAU Statement on Violence Against Asian Community + Resources & Action Items

These past few weeks, US headlines and news sources have been highlighting a significant increase in anti-Asian harassment and violence since early 2020 with more than 3000 documented incidents across the country. Most recently, we grieve Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old man from Thailand who suffered fatal injuries after being shoved to the ground on one of his daily walks. We stand in solidarity with Noel Quintana, who was slashed across the face on the New York City subway, the 71-year-old grandma who was knocked to the ground and robbed in Oakland, the 91-year-old grandpa who was shoved to the sidewalk on a sunny day in Oakland Chinatown. We feel the pain of the families and friends of those who have been victims of racist violence.

Amidst these stories, we also must say the name of Christian Hall, the 19-year-old Chinese American teen who was fatally shot by the Pennsylvania State Police when Hall was undergoing a mental health crisis. Although the victims of anti-Asian violence may initially seem unrelated to Hall’s case, AAU believes that the oppressive systems of our society and the blatant disinvestment in public services not only allow these incidents of violence to persist, but create them in the first place. Thus, all these seemingly disparate stories are tied together. In these moments of anger, grief, and sorrow AAU wants to encourage our community to connect our pain to that of the Black community immense and unjust losses at the hands of police. We all suffer under white supremacy and no minoritized or economically disenfranchised community in the United States is able to avoid its violence.

Just a year ago, in March 2020, AAU convened a community forum on the rising number of incidents of anti-Asian harassment and violence across the country. This increase was broadly attributed to the administration’s stoking of public bias and anti-Chinese sentiment (i.e. using terms like “kung-flu”) as news spread about the first reported cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan. At the forum, eight Philadelphia Asian leaders discussed recent anti-Asian incidents and the rising levels of fear and stress in our communities. A year later, we are again hearing reports of anti-Asian violence, with some of the most egregious reported recent incidents occurring  on the West Coast. 

Throughout AAU’s 35 year history, we have seen many incidents of anti-Asian violence, harassment and hate crimes. We know that these racially motivated events have also been a long part of our nation’s history and increase especially during times of upheaval when community members turn blame and fear towards each other rather than towards larger systemic causes. 

Whether it is one incident or many, the effects of violence aimed at our communities can be felt across age, gender, class, or Asian ethnic/cultural background. Our youth, their parents, and our elders are afraid— often on a daily basis. Additionally, we all come from histories of societal discord, war, violence, immigration, displacement. Incidents in the current moment raise our communal memories of incidents in the past. And during this pandemic, there is less space for continued efforts towards generational healing. 

When these incidents occur and fears are stoked, we see our own communities’ racism rise (especially targeting black communities). Again, the histories in our communities where Asians and Black people have been pitted against one another leave us disconnected, angry, unaware of the privilege that Asian communities have been granted over Black and Latinx communities, unaware of our own racism. Our community leaders end up calling for increased police presence and gun ownership. We get more entrenched in a vicious cycle that this country has perpetuated since it began.

At AAU, we are concerned at how difficult it is to remember in difficult times to look at a larger picture— at the whole situation of larger systemic failure. The pandemic shows the many holes through which our communities can fall under the inhumane system we live in. Millions and millions of people in the U.S. are without work, adequate healthcare, food, or shelter. Millions of people are incarcerated. Thousands of people in our immigrant and refugee communities are facing deportation and detention in this incarceration system. How can we expect crime and tensions in our communities not to rise in these circumstances?

We must not blame each other. The solution to violence cannot be more violence. Our communities need linguistically accessible resources, mental health services, cross-racial community, solidarity building, and restorative justice programs.

We must look further. We must dismantle our history of economic inequity and racism. Who are the wealthy people benefiting every day from the suffering of the oppressed? Who are the people who reinforce this oppressive system every day to protect their profits and privilege? It is so difficult to consider that we may have more in common with even those who target our Asian elders and youth with violence  than we do with those who keep their hands clean while the systems of oppression do their dirty work for them— keeping us from lives with dignity and plenty where we could begin to heal from centuries of damage, violence and disconnection. 

In this moment, we ask our communities to continue envisioning and enacting safe and just futures that honor everyone’s humanity and make reparations for historic and ongoing oppression. Ask how conservative visions of a safe community (more police, more firearms) will perpetuate both anti-Black and anti-Asian violence. Ask what will really have to change in our society so that none of our community members are faced with the many forms of violence (physical, economic, emotional) we are confronted with every day.  Fight for justice for Christian Hall as a part of a lineage of murder that follows Walter Wallace, Briana Taylor, George Floyd, Eric Garner, and too many more.

Action Items:

View the list of resources and suggested readings here!

#StopSEAADeportation: SEARAC’s New Series of Video PSAs

Video PSA Series on SEAAs and Deportation

The Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) proudly presents a series of deportation-focused public service announcements (PSAs) featuring the stories of five impacted Southeast Asian American (SEAA) community members and their families. This video series is designed not only to educate the broader Southeast Asian community on the impact of deportations on our families and communities but also to build public support for the need to end deportations.

These PSAs come on the 25th anniversary of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRAIRA), which enables the mass deportation of noncitizens with who have come into contact with the criminal legal system and increases punitive measures against immigrants and refugees. Through this new series of PSA videos, SEARAC seeks to honor the individuals and communities who have been devastated by the heightened deportations of Southeast Asian Americans, a practice that began with the passage of IIRAIRA and continues today. 

To view any of the videos below, click on their image or their title. You can also find all videos on SEARAC’s YouTube channel.

APANO October 2021 Cultural Work Roundup

View the full October 2021 Cultural Work Roundup from APANO here:

APANO: Here’s your monthly dose of BIPOC makers, radical thinkers, and resources featuring recommendations by Cultural Work Coordinator, Roshani Thakore and Communications Coordinator, Lani Felicitas. If you would like to include an item to a future Cultural Work Roundup, email Roshani at by the 20th of that month.