Letter from the Interim Executive Director
Recently at a gathering with other repro movement leaders, we were asked to tell a story that explains our understanding of conflict. Most of my life, I have felt like I am the conflict.
I am the conflict for a patriarchal Korean society that did not know what to do with me, as a first born daughter who took on many roles and duties that would have normally been delegated to my brother.
I am the conflict in the United States, a country burdened by racism, where I refuse to be silent, refuse to follow status quo, and refuse to believe the lie that we should all seek the "American Dream.”
And I am the conflict in my religious community, especially in the AAPI Christian community because I am a woman ordained minister in a culture where very few communities accept women in that role.
I share this with you because I know many of us in the NAPAWF community can relate to a certain extent. Being who we are, unapologetically, means that our very existence and living each day is an act of resistance.
So, while the last few months of the Trump administration has been rough, I want to remind you that we've been living lives of resistance long before Trump became president. This administration has made much of the ugliness of this nation rear its head, but we're standing strong together and resisting out loud by taking to the streets and calling on legislators. But most importantly, we resist by loving ourselves and each other as we are, unapologetically.
Sung Yeon Choimorrow
Not Your Model Minority, Women’s March on Washington
“Asian Americans have been used as the west-wedge race," Sung Yeon Choimorrow, NAPAWF’s Interim Executive Director told NBC News. "We've been called the model minority. We've been pitted against other people of color for the amusement of white people in this country over and over again. And I think there is a growing movement in the AAPI community where we are saying that's not who we are. That's not how we want to be identified or associated."
On January 21, 2017, Asian American and Pacific Islander contingents all over the country took it to the streets to stand up against racism, sexism, xenophobia, and politicians who threaten the freedom of our communities. NAPAWF chapters across the nation marched in their local cities alongside their AAPI communities.
NAPAWF as an organization brought an AAPI contingent of 50 AAPI women and trans people on a bus from New York City to Women’s March in Washington DC. We marched alongside other AAPI groups including the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NKASEC) and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). Staff and chapters across the nation showed up for our community, for other communities of color who will be affected policy priorities of this new administration that will be harmful to our communities.
After the march, we hosted a Post-March Action Collective, where AAPI women and transgender people to came together for food, reflection, sharing, and community. This space was for our communities to debrief the march and strategize looking ahead to resistance in 2017.
NAPAWF on the Hill
In mid-February, a group of NAPAWF staff gathered in Washington D.C. to visit Capitol Hill. We met with a total of 28 Congressional representatives/staffers. In each meeting, we shared our organization’s main priorities of 2017 pertaining to reproductive justice, economic justice, and immigrant rights and the AAPI community. We talked about our work fighting against sex selective abortion bans and asked them about their plans surrounding the recent immigration executive orders.
The Congressional staff also had a chance to explain their policy priorities in the coming year and discover what areas we could collaborate! From our New York City office, we had Stephanie, Communications & Development Associate and Bex, Senior Organizer. From Chicago, we had Sung Yeon, Interim Executive Director. And based in Washington DC, we had Aliya, Policy Associate, and Mohini, Reproductive Justice Fellow.
Fighting Invisibility, Closing the Wage Gap
On Asian American & Pacific Islander Equal Pay Day (March 7th), NAPAWF led conversation to show the world that AAPI women, transgender, and gender nonconforming people deserve to have their labor acknowledge valued, and fairly compensated.
Although March 7th represents the fact that on average, an Asian American woman earns 85 cents for every dollar a white man earns. When you disaggregate AAPI wage data by ethnicity, you'll find that Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander women experience some of the highest wage gaps than any other race.
Following AAPI Equal Pay Day, NAPAWF released our equal pay policy report Fighting Invisibility, Closing the Wage Gap: An Equal Pay Agenda for Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Our #AAPIEqualPay Twitter storm reached almost 4 million people and had more than 5 million impressions, including those of AAPI celebrities Constance Wu and Jenny Yang.
International Women’s Day, #TrumpGlobalGag
On International Women’s Day (March 8th), NAPAWF rallied in Washington DC during the Resist Trump, Stop the Gagdemonstration to publicly denounce the Global Gag rule, which this administration has renewed as a means to limit international access to reproductive and abortion care. We stood alongside CHANGE, NARAL, Advocates for Youth, Global Justice Center, and many other organizations, to show solidarity with women around the globe who should all have the agency to choose whether to parent, when to parent, and how to parent.
NAPAWF Strikes a Community Conversation!
AAPI (Un)Happy Hour: On March 7th, NAPAWF partnered with Scion Restaurant in Washington DC for Asian American Equal Pay Day (Un)Happy Hour, where folks in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community came together to learn about the wage gaps in the AAPI community and chat about how to get involved with the organization. A portion of the proceeds went towards our movement and mission!
Sex as Resistance: In New York, Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute participants led a workshop on sex and politics! Together, they shared the best ways to communicate desires and concrete actions on how to set boundaries with politicians in regards to our community’s reproductive needs. We dove into conversations about the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), also known as the harmful, racist legislation that is being introduced federally and in six states across the country targeting the reproductive choices of communities of color and introduced ways to take action.
Asian American Feminism in the Trump Era
Chapter Spotlight: NAPAWF NYC
“An Asian American feminist movement is the only movement that is able to accurately advocate for and represent the needs of Asian American cis and trans women," says NYC Chapter leader, Julie Kim,
"Every day comes a new attack on Muslims, undocumented immigrants, environmentalists, and so forth. There cannot be a divide and conquer — there must be a strong base that is ready to show up, resist, protest where we are needed. And yes, we are needed."
To help build that coalition, NAPAWF*NYC is sponsoring a series of events on Asian American feminism scheduled to take place over the first five months of 2017. The series, which takes place in New York, is open to the public and covers topics including the history of Asian-American feminism, organizing, and the movement's role in reproductive rights and politics.
Welcome New Staff!
We say welcome to our new staff on board, Anique, who works with finance & operations, Roula, who organizes with us in Georgia, Ashley, who organizes with us in Chicago and Vineeta, who is working with Anique to coordinate the New York City Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute. Get to know them here!