Born in Santa Ana, CA, to two Muslim refugee survivors of the Cambodian genocide, Hatefas Yop wasn’t aware of her family’s use of public services when she was a young girl. After all, her peers in her elementary school all hailed from the local neighborhood, where many immigrant and refugee families had to live in one-bedroom apartments subsidized by Section 8 housing. She didn’t understand the melancholy in an elder whom Hatefas referred to as “Grandma,” when she said her food stamps (paper at the time) weren’t ‘real money.’ “But you could use it to.... Read More
What Is At Stake For Vietnamese Communities If The Affordable Care Act Is Struck Down?
Every year on April 30, many Vietnamese living across the globe commemorate what they term the end of the Vietnamese war (also known as the American war in Vietnam). Whatever side we were on, the war and its aftermath forever remain painful and frightening and continue to affect the health and wellbeing of the Vietnamese population.
After the war, my family and I joined over a million other Vietnamese immigrants who made the journey to reside in the.... Read More
My memories from childhood are extremely hazy. Most of what I can recall are fleeting feelings: the bliss in skipping around my Kindergarten classroom as I sang about the days of the week, the joy in jumping up and down on my parents’ bed as I watched “David the Gnome,” the curiosity in having accidentally swallowed a piece of gum, the preceding anxiety and subsequent relief in remembering my steps for a dance recital. Practically all my childhood firsts are long forgotten; I cannot recollect the first book I ever read by myself, or the first tooth I lost, or the.... Read More
Vietnamese Death Anniversaries Unite Young and Old
By Christine Nguyen, MD. This story originally appeared on KALW FM’s “Crosscurrents.”
In 2006, my Mom had a dream. Grandma sat above her, perched on a black stone wall so high her feet didn’t touch the floor. “Mother,” Mom called, “You’re up so high. You might fall to your death.”
A phone call interrupted Mom’s dream. It was her brother. Their mother was dead. “Sister,” he added, “I’ve made Mother a tombstone. Black. Granite from India.”
Ancestor worship is the most common religious practice in Vietnam. It’s called Đạo Ông Bà, or “belief in Grandfather and Grandmother.” When a Vietnamese parent dies, the children make an altar in their homes for the parent’s spirit to live. The practice is.... Read More
Five Inspirational Stories for Women’s History Month
In 1987, March was declared Women’s History Month, a time to commemorate the vital role of women in shaping history. Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women of all backgrounds, to acknowledge the importance of their roles in our lives, and to support their efforts to make the world a better place. Women have shaped history through their leadership, courage, strength, and compassion. Although many of the contributions of women have been recognized and celebrated, women still face inequality in many aspects of their lives, reminding us that we have more work to do. As we celebrate the countless achievements made by women across all aspects of life, we must also support their fight towards social justice. Women’s.... Read More
Harnessing the Power of Narrative for Positive Change: SEARAC’s Leadership and Advocacy Training
by Alyssa Tulabut, Training Manager, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC).
Stories have been described as “the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt wrote, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.” These sentiments particularly seem to resonate under an administration that weaves tall tales and spreads misinformation tweet after tweet. Stories have the power to make people feel, and unfortunately for advocates of immigrant and refugee communities, the narratives being circulated have been carefully crafted to stoke fear and to label some communities as untrustworthy “others.” As we’ve witnessed over the.... Read More
In a recent essay published in AAPI blog Reappropriate, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) executive director Quyen Dinh recounted what is what like for her to grow up poor and not know it.
In elementary school, my day started with getting breakfast from the cafeteria window, where I got to choose a cereal box along with a small carton of milk from our cafeteria lady, Angie. She had short curly silver hair and always happily provided us our breakfast, along with a great smile.
For lunch, I lined up with the rest of my classmates to get lunch from Angie, too. Each of us carried a small envelope with our names on it.
Every 10 years, the United States conducts a census to record the number of people living in the nation, regardless of immigration status. More than a mere tally, the U.S. Census provides valuable insight into the country’s ever-shifting demographic and geographical makeup. It also informs how federal and state dollars are allocated, establishes the boundaries of legislative districts, and governs the number of House seats for which each state is eligible, based on population.
With so much at stake, it’s crucial to collect accurate numbers and get full participation. However, for the upcoming 2020 census, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hopes to skew these counts and silence immigrants and people of color, including Southeast Asian Americans (SEAAs), with the addition of.... Read More
by Monica Speight. This post originally appeared on the SEARAC blog.
Protect Southeast Asian Americans’ rights to be counted and seen
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he has directed the Census Bureau to add an untested and unnecessary citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Census Bureau is now taking public comments to inform the final questionnaire, and our community has an opportunity to establish a strong, clear public record that we oppose the addition of a citizenship question, but we support the expansion of the race and ethnicity categories.
CITIZENSHIP QUESTION Including a citizenship question.... Read More
Connecting Across Generations to Support Diverse Elders
Whenever I tell people that I work in the field of aging, it raises more than a few eyebrows. I started working with the Diverse Elders Coalition before my 30th birthday, and even though I’m a few years older and wiser now, it still feels like few of my peers are thinking about aging, much less how they can support the generations who have come before them. And yet, in a country that threatens older adults’ access to healthcare, that tears immigrant families apart, that denies Muslim elders entry to this country to be with their family members, and that has a division of religious freedom at the highest levels of government to deny.... Read More
Next week, the Diverse Elders Coalition will be participating in SEARAC’s annual Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT) program in Washington, D.C. This post from SEARAC’s new Director of Communications and Development, Elaine Sanchez Wilson, shares how the LAT program relies on storytelling — a key component of the Diverse Elders Coalition’s work — to make change in the halls of Congress that will reverberate in our communities across the country.
One of my earliest childhood memories was a lazy summer afternoon spent curled up in bed, devouring a tiny collection of Amelia Bedelia books that I’d borrowed from the neighborhood library. I was a new reader and couldn’t get enough of it; I skipped dinner and instead consumed page.... Read More