We stand with Asian Americans everywhere
Like you, we have been struggling to process the most recent examples of violence against people of color and particularly Asian Americans in our nation. We’ve had conversations as a staff about how we best add to the many wishes, thoughts, and prayers being put out there and how we center the right voices when this is, quite honestly, so personal for much of our team.
This reaches way beyond our hearts going out. Our hearts are broken, and have been through all of the white nationalist, misogynist, and police violence that communities of color – especially Black communities – have been experiencing on a daily basis.
We persist in struggle because we share the lived experience of BIPOC folks who are tired of writing statements about hate crimes and mass shootings, and tired of saying things like, “This isn’t America.” All too often, this is what America has felt like for people of color, especially immigrants, refugees, women, elders, those denied legal status, Black Americans, and those subject to their labor and their bodies being exploited. We don’t hear their story until the worst possible thing imaginable happens to grab our attention for a news cycle.
Most of our staff and board comes from families of immigrants or refugees, mostly women and many foreign-born. Collectively, we have personal and family stories that span the entire country and numerous communities where hatred and violence have constantly been present in the background of our experience in becoming Americans. We persist in hurt because we know what these losses mean – not just those of us who are Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Latinx Americans, because of Atlanta and Oakland. We hurt from raw wounds we feel here in Seattle, including hate speech; criminal and structural violence against our Black and Brown families from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America; and dangerous work conditions during Covid-19.
Our organization, now Kandelia, began almost four decades ago as Vietnamese Friendship Association, serving the first wave of refugees and immigrants in Seattle from Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Our mission today includes our work in education and services supporting students and families from all newcomer communities in Seattle, but our work rests in part upon the legacy of Asian American activists, leaders, and educators. We amplify the signal of AAPI racial justice resources shared by friends at AAJC and Seattle Rep. We persist in struggle because our mission is to give immigrants and refugees the ability to flourish without compromise and the safety, dignity, and comfort of home.
Seattle is home. We persist in struggle for our students and families – yesterday, today and until we no longer have to write another letter like this ever again in the wake of injustice. We persist.
David Song, Executive Director, and the team at Kandelia