When members of our diverse elder communities work together, it feels like there is so much power, shared history, and ambition in the room. We’ve loved hearing stories of multiple organizations getting together to work on issues around the White House Conference on Aging, for example, like our May 7th Listening Session in Los Angeles. Coalition- and community-building are so important to the vitality of our constituencies. At the Diverse Elders Coalition, we’re really glad to be making these connections and amplifying the voices of our communities.
When we unveiled our request for stories for the new Diverse Elders Stories Initiative back in April, I wasn’t sure what kind of responses we would get. What are the challenges facing our elders and their communities? How can we put those challenges into concise, thoughtful stories? Would anyone write to us at all?
Thankfully, Mikael Wagner arrived to assuage my fears. He sent us his story within a week of our call for submissions – the first person to do so – and it was everything I could have hoped for in a story. Mikael was diagnosed with.... Read More
Changing Hearts and Minds with the Diverse Elders Stories Initiative
One of my favorite radio shows, This American Life, featured an episode a few weeks ago about changing people’s minds – and how difficult that task can be. As I was listening, I was also attempting to write this blog post, so the topic felt very timely. I turned the volume up. The introduction to the episode noted that when people tell stories about their experiences, listeners are more likely to be persuaded, versus when a researcher or journalist or someone on the outside looking in tries to advocate for change. As an activist, this resonated strongly with me, and it reinforced the importance and the value of our Diverse Elders Stories Initiative.
May has been an important month for me for almost my entire professional career doing policy work in Washington, DC. As Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM), it has served as an opportunity to focus on the communities I’ve served, lift up issues such as immigration, cultural and linguistic competence, and address anti-Asian violence and racial discrimination. From its modest beginnings in 1977 when it was just the first week of May, to 1992 when it became officially designated for the entire month, it was chosen initially to recognize both the completion of the transcontinental railroad and the role Chinese laborers played there as well as the arrival of the first cohort of Japanese immigrants.
March 31st is Cesar Chavez Day, a commemoration of the life of labor activist and civil rights pioneer Cesar Chavez. Chavez cofounded the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta and worked tirelessly throughout his life to encourage Mexican Americans and other Latin@s to vote, to protect the rights of workers, and to protest the use of pesticides on our food supply. Many people commemorate Cesar Chavez day by giving back to their communities through volunteer work and service.
The impact of immigration reform on the labor conditions and practices that Cesar Chavez spent his life protesting cannot be overstated. According to the.... Read More
Collecting Stories from Our Communities: The Diverse Elders Stories Initiative
Some of our greatest tools to make positive change on behalf of our constituents are stories from older adults, their loved ones, advocates and community members that illustrate the struggles and triumphs of aging as people of color or LGBTQ people. We share these stories with the public on our blog and through social media to raise awareness of the issues that affect diverse elders. Your stories also allow us to show policymakers the faces behind their proposed policies and programs. With your stories, we are able to advocate for the needs of diverse elders more effectively.