How Asian Pacific American advocacy shaped our movement in 2019, and memorable moments from the year
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Dear Colleagues and Friends,
2019 was the year in which survivors of sexual violence walked boldly into the public sphere. Their narratives moved, outraged, educated, encouraged, and healed us.
2019 was the year in which Chanel Miller’s Know My Name became an assertion of identity, an acknowledgement that although her 2016 victim impact statement had so little effect on a courtroom verdict, it had an extraordinary effect on over 11 million readers. In an interview by Shondaland, when asked why she emphasizes her Asian American identity in her book, Miller, whose Chinese name is Zhang Xiao Xia (Little Summer), speaks for so many in our community: “I think, in general, we are more likely to be dismissed. I think our experiences are easily overridden, that we have to fight insanely hard to be taken seriously or to be heard… just to be seen, at all”.
2019 was the year in which Rowena Chiu publicized her #MeToo story after 21 years. In an article by Asian Voices on defying stereotypes of Asian sexual assault survivors Chiu is quoted as saying: “There are very few, I feel, Asian voices that come forward with this kind of story. It’s not because this kind of thing does not happen to Asian people, but I think certainly within the U.S. we have a whole culture around a model minority that doesn’t make a fuss, that doesn’t speak up, that puts their head down and works really hard and doesn’t cause waves.”
2019 was the year in which sujatha baliga, a leader in the restorative justice movement was honored with a MacArthur fellowship/’genius award’. Her experience as a child sexual abuse/incest survivor influenced her interest in restorative models of justice. In a post by her, she says: “I didn’t want to be placed in foster care or for my father to be locked up, and I worried that telling the truth might trigger immigration consequences for my family”. “Ultimately, I was drawn to restorative justice because it works best without involving the criminal legal system or other systems of separation and oppression.”
2019 was the year when Asian women pointed to their Asian identity as one of the influences on their decisions to speak out and reclaim their stories, to defy stereotypes, to reduce stigma in Asian communities, and to show us how they deployed the intersections of racism and misogyny as catalysts for change. Thank you Chanel Miller, Rowena Chiu and sujata baliga for inspiring us with hope.
In 2020, we commit ourselves to honoring your, and other survivors’ legacies.
~ Hai Chan, Chic Dabby, Marcy Delisle, Biney Dev, Cannon Han, Grace Huang, Sarah Khan, Shirley Luo, Ana Paula Noguez-Mercado, and Yein Pyo.