GLSEN Stories: Solidarity with the APIDA Community
In closing out Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American (1.) Heritage month, a few members from GLSEN’s National Student Council, Chapter Network, and staff reflected on this past year. The COVID-19 pandemic made a significant impact on our community as anti-Asian hate crimes have risen and as communities around us have experienced continued displacement, police brutality, death, unemployment, homophobia, transphobia, and isolation.
We are learning to connect, speak out, hold each other's hearts from afar, and dig deeper into solidarity work as part of our intertwined struggles against white supremacy. We encourage our community to continue growing and pushing for further inclusion, while resting, celebrating and taking in affirmations.
We at GLSEN acknowledge that many of these “heritage” months and acronyms are not fully inclusive and that Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American identities have been lumped together as if we are all one monolithic entity. We are people of different languages, food, regions, religions, family dynamics, expressions, and features. In grouping us all together, even as we find more inclusive acronyms, it will never fully encompass the greatness in our similarities and differences.
Here are our reflections on the past year:
Jaiden (he, him, his) | @ft.x.jaii | National Student Council Member, GLSEN
This past year has been a journey for self-discovery, in which I have personally witnessed the impacts of determined young Asian Pacific Islander and Desi Americans fighting against generations of trauma. It is astounding what true unity and justice can look like; its strength is beyond any attempts to divide. Solidarity is how we can find peace, love, and equity. This concept translates to dismantling the Model Minority Myth, relying on community services and social work over policing and criminalization, and amplifying the stories of those who would otherwise go unheard. This does not merely impact the Asian Pacific Islander and Desi community, but solidarity serves to benefit our Black, Latinx, and Indigenous allies, as well as bringing awareness to all of intersectional identities. As I live this life as a young disabled, LGBTQ+ Pilipino American, I work to make progress towards the unity that this world truly needs because I know that we can survive this, just as our ancestors had fought. Oppressors hold no power when we are united.
Riezel Nicole Escoto | 7th grader from Ilima Intermediate | Pronouns: she/he/they | Current identity: Gender fluid | Ethnicity: Asian-American specifically Filipino-American
Over the course of this past year and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, I have learned that although I live comfortably and somewhat safe in the place I live in, this isn’t always the case for others around me. The continued injustices faced by Asians, Pacific Islanders, Black and Brown folks, and other marginalized people have sparked a calling in me. That call is telling me that I need to get up and help out my community members that don’t hold the same privilege as me. I shouldn’t just live life comfortably while my fellow siblings suffer from the harm this world inflicts.
Angelo (he, him, his) | @angelojasa | Digital Engagement Manager, GLSEN
As a Filipino, LGBTQ+, immigrant, that was the word that constantly haunted me throughout this past year, which eventually grew into realization. I often ask myself why I give into these capitalist ideologies–why I continue to value the myth of the “American Dream.” Why is it that every time I see any kind of violence towards my community, I feel helpless and useless? Those attacks could have been one of my family members and friends walking down the streets of NYC.
Why am I assimilating? Why am I conforming?
We can’t do this anymore, we cannot give into this. Because if we do, we continue to do the deeds that our colonizers set out to do by erasing the history and culture of our families and ancestors. It took me a while to realize the amount of hurt that I’ve done towards myself and my family because I gave into the pressure to conform. Before I left Guam to go to college, my father told me to create a life in the mainland and to never forget where I came from and the lessons I’ve learned. This past year has been difficult not only for the Asian and Desi American, and Pacific Islander communities, but for our LGBTQ+, Black and Brown communities as well, and I want to bring so much love and light to all of you.
Don’t conform. Remember the lessons your ancestors and families passed onto you. And be always unapologetically you.
a.t. furuya (they, them, theirs) | @atfuruya | Sr. Youth Programs Manager, GLSEN
Reflecting on this past year and the trauma our Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American communities continue to experience, I am alarmed at the increased reliance on police systems that we know will not protect us or keep us safe. The model minority is a myth, because it is a tool to divide Black Indigenous and People of Color from challenging these systems and further criminalizing Black people while giving Asians (specifically East Asians) a false notion of access to white privilege. The Anti-Asian Hate bill will increase police surveillance in communities that are already heavily policed, therefore putting more Black and Brown people in jail and at risk of being killed. This matters to me as a queer and transgender Japanese American because I know our struggles are connected. I know there are alternative ways to keep our people safe. We have been used by the state as weapons-- and this includes the LGBTQ+ community-- to further oppress Black people. This is the deep work we have to commit to in order to disrupt this cycle of behavior and show up in solidarity to fight against white supremacy and the ruling class without getting distracted by performative rhetoric and finger-pointing. Our fight for survival is in our bones and that terrifies our oppressors because I believe that they know, perhaps more than we sometimes believe ourselves, that we will win. We will win.
For more information about Asian Pacific Islander and Desi American LGBTQ+ people, check out https://www.glsen.org/research/aapi-lgbtq-students
- Who is APIDA? https://www.csusm.edu/apidafsa/who_is_apida/index.html CSCM.edu.