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
Linh’s Story: An American Success Story Made Possible by Family-Based Immigration
by Linh Chuong. This post originally appeared on the SEARAC blog.
In 1986, my dad was forced to flee Vietnam because of persecution. He came to the United States as a refugee and was relocated to Oakland along with my three older brothers. As a child, I remained in Vietnam with my mother and three siblings, and my father filed paperwork to bring the rest of my family to the United States so we could be together again. We spent almost a decade apart before we were reunited as a family in East Oakland eight years later.
by Beth Baker. This article originally appeared on Next Avenue.
Micaela Rios, 64, who immigrated to rural western Kansas from Mexico 20 years ago, has a difficult job in a meatpacking plant. After years of packing beef in cold, wet conditions, she developed arthritis and high blood pressure. When she was 60, she had a heart attack.
Many immigrants and refugees work alongside her, some of them older than she, Rios said. Despite the arduous work, she feels lucky that the job comes with health insurance. She hopes to retire once Medicare kicks in.
“One reason she hasn’t retired is because of her health insurance,” said her daughter, Karla Davila, who acted as her mother’s interpreter for this interview..... Read More
Southeast Asian Americans Speak Out to Protect Affordable Healthcare
For many Southeast Asian Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal fight last year felt personal.
When the ACA was first passed, uninsured rates in Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese American communities were high. Compared to the 15% of Americans overall who did not have health insurance in 2011, 20% of Cambodian, 20% of Vietnamese, 19% of Laotian, and 16% of Hmong Americans were uninsured. Too many families used emergency rooms as last-resort healthcare providers or went for years without regular check-ups.
Only four years later in 2015, the uninsured rate was cut in half. Thousands of families were finally accessing the preventative and life-saving care that they needed. Some accessed care through the healthcare exchange, supported by subsidies to.... Read More