The Diverse Elders Coalition and its five member organizations had a large presence at this year’s Aging in America Conference, which wrapped up last week in Washington, DC. Coincidentally, aging issues in America got a boost at the same time, as the U.S. House of Representatives took a critical vote on the Older Americans Act. While it was exciting to be in the same space as thousands of other people in the aging network while this major legislative hurdle was passed, the conference itself offered reminders of how much work there is still left to do to make sure diverse elders and their needs are being served.
With over 21 sessions, the DEC and its.... Read More
The 2016 Aging in America Conference: Bringing the Diverse Elders Coalition Together
Washington, DC, is a beautiful city this time of year. While we haven’t quite hit the peak time for the annual cherry blossoms to be in bloom, the weather is just beginning to turn to spring and the greenery is just beginning to come out from its winter hibernation. As a longtime resident of the District, I always appreciate springtime and look especially forward to the many conferences and local events that bring friends and colleagues into town to take advantage of both the beauty the city has to offer, and the unique role we play as the nation’s capital.
Black History Month gives us an opportunity to be intentional about recognizing African Americans and the role they have played in shaping our country, our communities, and our culture. It’s often a moment for us to lift up “historical figures”—men, women, and people of accomplishment who have made significant impact in an area of endeavor. In this view, PSAs, news pieces, and blogs (not unlike this one) cover people such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, or George Washington Carver. It is certainly important to honor their work, and we have proudly put their wisdom forward as a north star to guide our work. But we’ve also seen how history lifts these people.... Read More
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Earl Fowlkes’ Story
Earl Fowlkes has been a long-time advocate on a number of issues at both local and national levels. As the CEO of the Center for Black Equity, he works with over 30 Black Pride events serving 350,000 members of the African American LGBT community around the country annually on a range of issues focusing on Health Equity, Economic Equity, and Social Equity. As a well-respected member of the community, he holds leadership positions and has been on the boards of a number of organizations, and has received numerous awards for his service. As a friend and colleague, he is a valued partner and collaborator on a number of projects we have worked on together over the years to build solidarity.... Read More
Diverse Elders at Creating Change: Breaking New Ground and Taking the Long View
As a conference that brings together thousands of social justice-minded LGBT people and organizations from around the country, Creating Change has been an important space for me for more than a decade. I’m proud to have played a small role in some of their ground-breaking programming, such as the first ever Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) day-long institute (which helped grease the wheel for our colleagues in Latino and African American communities to follow suit), and the first ever official Creating Change observance of Lunar New Year. The National LGBTQ Task Force brought this year’s conference to Chicago this past weekend and, as usual, created an important space for the LGBTQ communities.
Next week, our friends at the National LGBTQ Task Force are holding their annual Creating Change conference, the largest LGBTQ social justice conference in the country. With a mission of advancing LGBTQ liberation, Creating Change is expected to bring 5,000 activists from around the country to Chicago this January 20-24th. As a longtime participant in this conference, which has taken place annually for 28 years, I look forward to this yearly opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues from around the country, to meet new people, and to continue learning about the great work happening in communities everywhere.
This year, I’m excited to be part of ground-breaking programming at Creating Change specifically geared to a unique Read More
2015 in Review: Diverse Elders and the Need for Wisdom
Growing up in an immigrant household, I was raised to respect my elders. Their needs were to be looked after, and their wisdom was to not to be questioned. Often, that came into conflict in our suburban New Jersey community, where American cultural values of exceptionalism and individualism, perhaps subconsciously, told me that my upbringing in the States made me more of an authority on “how things worked” than my immigrant parents, who couldn’t possibly understand what I was going through in a world so different from their own. As I myself have grown and played a small role in helping raise my twin brother’s children, I am more appreciative of the challenges immigrants have overcome and the value of.... Read More
Standing Strong with the Muslim Community: Learning History’s Lessons
The times we’re living in are fraught with too much fear and violence. Recent shootings in Paris and San Bernardino have turned tragedy into political gamesmanship, as politicians have turn leaps of logic and coded language to equate all Muslims with terrorists. From Donald Trump’s call for a complete ban on Muslims entering the country to the thirty one governors who have stated their opposition to accepting Syrian Muslim refugees, despite their legal obligation to do so, and the fact that they are fleeing the very extremism the governors are claiming to oppose. Political rhetoric has become so polarized, the policy debates in which that rhetoric operates have become antagonistic, and as a result, gridlock has become politics as usual.
A year into working at the Diverse Elders Coalition, I’ve been struck by the learning curve for the range of issues facing the elder constituencies our member organizations serve. I have worked on some of these issues in previous jobs, and I have some experience in policy areas such as immigration, LGBT equality, language access, and cultural competence. What has been exciting in the past thirteen months I’ve been with the DEC is thinking about these issues and their impact on the range of programs, legislation, and policy that specifically relate to aging populations. From Social Security to Medicare, applying an intersectional analysis has allowed me to think about how different kinds of discrimination such as ageism and xenophobia “intersect”.... Read More
As someone with very personal connections to both military servicemembers and the Japanese American community, I hold today, December 7, with a complex set of meanings and experience the gamut of emotions. “I’m feeling all the feels” as they might say these days. The anniversary of the attack of the Japanese Imperial Army on Pearl Harbor in Hawai’i on December 7 is marked with a solemn gravity and has particular resonance for the U.S. Armed Forces that remembers its fallen dead. Unfortunately, the day has another more tragic resonance for another community.
For Japanese Americans, who fell victim to the displaced rage of an American populace reeling from a military attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reference to “a day.... Read More
Bringing Local Perspectives to Washington, DC: The NHCOA Capitol Hill Briefing
On Wednesday, October 28, the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) held a Capitol Hill Briefing to launch its new report, “Status of Hispanic Older Adults: Recommendations from the Field.” The report provides a comprehensive overview of the needs, challenges, and resilience of Hispanic older adults, including a literature review and analysis of feedback and input from local communities around the country gathered at NHCOA Regional Forums in California, Texas, Florida, as well as from surveys collected from over 700 Hispanic older adults. The findings were presented in order to align with the four categories used by the recently.... Read More
History, Heritage, and Community: A Confluence of Days
Many communities, causes, and institutions recognize a particular month or day as an opportunity to raise awareness and promote their contributions to public life. This month is personally and professionally significant for me in many ways: two of the constituencies that we serve at the Diverse Elders Coalition take this month as an opportunity to celebrate their history and heritage. The National Hispanic Council on Aging joins in the celebrations of Hispanic Heritage Month that occur between September 15 and October 15. SAGE recognizes LGBT History Month in October and is also doing a number of activities this month in celebration.
While there is no hard and fast rule that dictates which celebrations of which months are.... Read More