Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top 10 Workshops for Teaching About A/PIAs

By: Raymond Chin

I have been a part of the A/PIA community at the University of Michigan for the past three years and I have been through workshops of various forms. This includes classes in Intergroup Relations (IGR), A/PIA studies classes, their associated books (ie. Teaching about Asian Pacific Americans), and United Asian American Organizations (UAAO). Within UAAO, there are workshops held during the weekly general meetings, A/PIA High School Conference, the peer mentorship program APA101, and at MAASU Spring Conference.

Rationale and Criteria:

Even though the list is ranked, it does not mean that workshop number one should be the first one done. The #1 ranked workshop is easy to facilitate and easy to engage large crowds. It is actively engaging and it does not require a lot about A/PIA issues. In this list, there are a variety of workshops that are meant to challenge participants. There are a few criteria that are required to be looked at. My list for Top 10 Workshops for Teaching About A/PIAs seeks to:

  • Address a wide variety of A/PIA issues
  • Have different group sizes
  • Target different age ranges
  • Require little to no previous knowledge about A/PIA issues or history

Top 10 Workshops for Teaching About A/PIAs

  1. Privilege Walk
  2. Sim City
  3. Multiple Identities
  4. Peanut Butter River Activity
  5. Web of Oppression
  6. Feast of Resistance
  7. Cups of Unity
  8. Role Playing Domestic Violence
  9. Mapping our history/herstory
  10. A/PIA History Timeline

1. Privilege Walk

Any number of participants can be involved and this activity fits for any age group. Several variations of this activity exist.

The facilitator hands out an index card to each participant with assigned “privileges” and “costs”. A few examples can be “music prodigy”, “scholarships awarded”, “pursuing higher education”, to “working multiple jobs to sustain family”, “lives in poor neighborhood”, and “has an accent”.

After everyone is given an index card, everyone lines up shoulder to shoulder and is looking towards the goal line. A “narrator” at the goal line (at opposite end of room) calls out a certain number of steps forward or backwards according to your “privileges” or “costs”. For example, the narrator would say “take one step forward if you are from a middle class family”. Another example might explore gender. So, “If you are male, take one step forward and if you are female take one step back”.

The person with the most “privileges” will be closest to the narrator. At the end, the narrator will have a bag of candy at hand and say “Now, grab this bag of candy”. The people closest to the candy have the greatest chance of winning.


The Bag of Candy: The rewards and opportunities in life. The most privileged people will have the most access to the candy. Everyone near the back can barely hear the narrator after a while and will not bother running up to get the bag of candy. For the people near the starting line, the bag of candy represents an ideal or something that is not even thought of because of all the real life limitations. How can one think of obtaining a job of high status when they have to take care of the family business, take care of siblings, and attend high school?

Possible Questions for Discussion:

  1. Point out who was at the front of the line, what benefits they had. The most privileged person will usually include: is a male, musically gifted, comes from an affluent background, loving parents, parents who graduated from Ivy League schools, and so on.

  1. Then point out the person who is at the back of the line. The least privileged person will usually include: is a female, speaks no English, has divorced parents, is a teenage parent, forced to work at two jobs, and so on.

  1. Ask what people at various positions thought at different times. Was it fair for people in the back to not have a chance at getting the candy? What were they thinking when the person grabbed the candy?

  1. Ask the person who took the bag of candy if sharing was at the top of their list once they got it.

Variations of this exercise:

  1. Instead of assigning each participant with an index card, let participants use their own real life experiences and privileges.

  1. Have the narrator call out many more “negative” privileges so participants keep walking backwards, ending up further and further from the goal line. This shows the dream that once seemed reasonable only got harder and harder to obtain.

2. Sim City

I would attribute this workshop to the program of Intergroup Relations (IGR)

Best performed in small groups and can be done with any age group.

Assign a large portion of the room into a rectangular “city”. Divide that rectangle into four uneven sections.

The facilitator is the Mayor and it is the job of the citizens (participants) to build the most magnificent structures out of paper and other resources. It is suggested that another facilitator acts as the Secretary of the Mayor and enforces the laws of the land.


  • Each group assigned to a plot of land must stay on their plot of land.
  • If they step out of the boundaries, they are sent to “jail” (a separate corner of the room), or removed from the game.
  • No group may interfere with another group’s plot of land.
  • The Mayor and Secretary have omnipotent powers and can sabotage or aid any Group at any time.

Distribution of Resources among Groups:

Group 1:

  • Most time to build city
  • Most space to build
  • Most resources
    Can speak to Mayor directly – Can get unlimited amount of resources
  • Secretary is very lenient about group members stepping outside of boundaries.

Group 2:

  • 5 minutes less to build than previous group
  • Good amount of space to build city
  • Fewer resources than Group 1
  • Often gets permission from Secretary to speak with Mayor

Group 3:

  • 5 minutes less to build than previous group
  • Decent amount of space to build city
  • No pens/markers – no ability to label necessary buildings
  • If any group member steps outside of city boundaries, group member is forced to go to “jail”
  • Requests are often ignored by Secretary

Group 4:

  • 5 minutes less to build than previous group
  • Barely enough space to fit several group members standing
  • No resources – no pens/markers, paper to build a city
  • Completely ignored by Secretary and Mayor
  • Harsh penalties if anyone in this group steps outside of city boundaries


Build the greatest city out of given supplies and win the Mayor’s favor.


Let Group 1 start the activity. Instruct them to build the greatest city they can. Tell them to use as many resources at their disposal. They are excited to build lavish hotels, airports, monuments, parks, residential districts, police stations, fire stations, schools, universities, hospitals, and other essentials of a city. The combination of paper and a writing utensil is the basis of constructing their buildings.

After 5 minutes, call in Group 2 and assign second largest section of land. They will work similarly to Group 1

Another 5 minutes, call in Group 3 and assign third largest section of land. With no pen to label their buildings, they need to request supplies from the Secretary. Often ignored, the Mayor will finally give in. Just to spite Group 3, the Mayor can give more materials to either of the other groups.

After another 5 minutes, call in Group 4. They will barely have enough space to stand and their major concern is not falling out of the city’s boundaries. They will have no chance of winning the Mayor’s favor. The Mayor has abilities to destroy Group 3’s building with floods and other “natural disasters” (representation will be explained later).

End the activity when the major aspects of each group are easily highlighted. Due to the subjectivity of the Mayor, the Mayor will say Group 1 won the activity because they have the nicest buildings.


The time difference for each group represents different waves of immigration. Obviously Group 1 had the most time to construct nice buildings so they win by default.

Group 2 is still fairly privileged whereas most of the unfortunate events happen to Group 3. Group 3 gets ignored when they need to speak to the Mayor. This represents how often times people of color get their voices ignored. As for a “natural disaster” occurring to Group 3, they inhabited a poor plot of land and hence constructed a poor neighborhood.

Group 4 has nothing. They are the bottom of the rung as far as class. Their concern is not building a pretty city, but rather trying to stay in the game by not stepping outside their tight boundaries.

Possible Questions for Discussion:

  1. What does this activity represent? What does each Group represent?
  2. How did each Group feel watching the others succeed/fail?
  3. Did the very privileged Group 1 think about sharing their resources?

3. Multiple Identities

Any number of people can participate in this activity. The more participants, the better.


Have a large poster or piece of paper with separate identities. This includes race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical ability, education, citizenship, and any other categories that you feel are relevant.

All participants should have 3 of each colored sticker. How many different colored stickers depends on how many questions you ask.

Before the activity starts, the facilitator should explain all the boxes of categories.

Ask the following questions one at a time allowing each participant to place stickers on the top three categories.

For example, the facilitator will say “Place a blue sticker on the top three categories that you are most proud of”

All participants finish placing their stickers in their favored categories.

Second Statement, the facilitator can say “Place a green sticker on the top three categories that you feel are most prominent on your life”

Third Statement, “Place a red sticker on the three categories that you are embarrassed of”

Fourth Statement “Place a yellow sticker on the three categories that you think other people judge you on”

Other possible statements: categories that you feel negatively impact you, impact you in general, shaped who you are today, are most visible, wish to improve upon, have most control over, and any other statements that you may want to include.

Questions for Discussion (can be discussed in smaller groups):

  1. Ask for common trends. Where do people see a lot of the same colored dots? An example might be, with statement 4, why is it that you feel others judge us on categories that are mostly physical?

  1. If we were to take this activity outside of this environment, will we get the same results? If we went to a different group of color, do you think their concerns will be the same? If we went to a different age group, will their concerns be the same?


As facilitator, explain that as a participant, there are people with similar concerns as you. It is also important to stress that each person is an individual and everyone has unique experiences and categories that shape who they are.

4. Peanut Butter River Activity

I would like to attribute this activity to the Yuri Kochiyama Mentorship Program

The origins of the name of this activity are a bit unknown but it is a workshop designed to demonstrate the struggles of immigration.

Activity best done in smaller groups and any age group can get involved.

First, the facilitators need to research instances of legislation that discriminated against or benefited certain Asian ethnic groups.

A few examples:

  • The Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 limited distribution of passports to Japanese
  • The Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934 negatively impacted Filipino immigration.
  • The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act negatively impacted mainly the Chinese
  • The repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943 positively impacted Chinese immigration
  • The 1965 Nationality and Immigration Act helped all ethnicities.


Each group is assigned a certain ethnic group/country. So usually Japanese, Filipino, Chinese, and Indian are the common ones. Korean, Vietnamese, and other ethnic groups can be added if there are a large number of participants.

Each team is given approximately 1 paper plate per team member.


The team to get from one side of the room and back is the winner!


  • No body part is allowed to touch the floor. They must utilize the paper plates as “stepping stones”.
  • No sliding paper plates across the ground.
  • When the facilitators call “Stop!” everyone must freeze in place. This is the time when a piece of legislation is being enacted. If a facilitator mentions a piece of legislation that negatively impacts a group, they take away a plate (or two!) from the ethnic group it affects. Likewise, if an Act benefits an ethnic group, facilitators give plates to that team.
  • Optional Rule: Facilitators have the option to take away plates that are not protected/not being stepped on the floor.

Questions for Discussion:

    1. Get general reaction. It is a difficult activity that requires lots of teamwork to move from one side of the room to another while only stepping on paper plates.

    1. Did they notice a trend? It was very hard to immigrate to the U.S. in the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. With the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act and 1965 Nationality Act, immigrating got a lot easier (more paper plates awarded).

    1. Ask if people know of difficult immigration stories. They may know of family members that are still trying to enter the U.S. but have to wait several years before being able to.

5. Web of Oppression

I would like to thank the program of Intergroup Relations (IGR) for this workshop.

This activity is best done in small to medium sized groups and perhaps with college level or above audiences.

Have participants stand in a circle. The facilitator will pass a ball of yarn to one participant and that person then passes the ball of yarn across to another participant. Now when there is enough string to go to each participant in the circle at least twice (each hand holding a piece of the string), have the facilitator attach pieces of information.

The pieces of information are examples of oppression. It can be a definition of for example, the model minority myth and when it was strongly perpetuated. It can be discriminatory legislation, examples of hate crimes, racist incidents in history, stereotypes, and such.

Have participants closest to that fact read it out loud and comment about it. It can be their reaction to it or if they have a story relevant to the fact, it only adds to the discussion.

After all the facts are read, the facilitator will ask participants to drop the Web of Oppression (the web created by all the yarn).


  1. Get general reactions from participants after hearing all the negativity coming from the facts. Were people angered? Are participants feeling empowered to fight against more incidents from happening?

  1. What does dropping the Web of Oppression represent? Is it a relief? What about its presence on the floor? It is still there even though we may not notice it as much after dropping it. However, things like stereotypes still affect us.

6. Feast of Resistance

Can be done with any number of people, preferably medium sized groups.

Have a bag of items that have a historical significance to Asian Americans. Some items include: the Bing cherry, donuts, shrimp flavored chips, a pineapple, sugar cane. Note: items do not have to be limited to food items.

Have participants either guess what is in the bag that Asian Americans have contributed to or have each participant pick an item randomly. When an item is taken out of the bag, the facilitator asks what the item’s significance to Asian American history is. If no one knows, the facilitator should explain the significance.


  1. Often times, participants do not know the historical significance of the items in the bag. Perhaps people do not necessarily attach the contribution to an Asian American. Perhaps it is a sense of history that is lost.

  1. Mention that simple things like pineapples have a huge role in Asian American history.

7. Cups of Unity (not official name)

I would like to thank UAAO for coming up with this workshop this year.

This activity can be done with any number of people, preferably with large groups and any age group.

Divide participants into about 4 even groups and separate them into different parts of the room.

Round 1:

The fastest team to stack 21 cups into a pyramid-like tower wins. However, the facilitators have foam balls that can be thrown to wreck teams from forming the tower. Prizes can be given out as an incentive.

Round 2:

The goal is to have as many towers from the four teams standing when time is called. Mention that the more towers that are left standing, the greater the reward. Strategies include coming together in unity and having all the towers in the center. Then have an outer ring of people to protect the towers from any foam balls hitting the towers.

Round 3 (optional):

If not all towers were standing by the end of round 2, challenge the participants once again and see if they can get all towers to stand by the end of this round.


  1. What does this activity try to make a point of? Standing in solidarity proves strength. Coalition building is important and common together for a common cause is necessary.

  1. Can give examples in A/PIA history where coalition building meant change. An example is the strike for ethnic studies in the 1970’s by the Third World Liberation Front.

  1. Discuss the difference between Round 1 and the later rounds. In round 1, group members might try to sabotage other groups from winning. Participants might have taken the foam balls thrown at their team and purposely throw it in the direction of another team in hopes of knocking down their tower. Then in Round 2, enemies became friends since the reward was greater.

8. Choose Your Adventure Domestic Violence

This is not the official name of this workshop. It was inspired by the “choose your adventure” books where you would choose a path and flip to that page.

Divide participants into different groups. Activity best done with small to medium sized groups. Age group is preferred to be of college level or above.

Have different places set up at different parts of the room. For example, “Home”, “Friend’s House”, “Church”, “Court”, and so on.

At each of these places, have colored index cards that each group would pick up according to what “path” they chose previously.

Group 1 might start at “Home” and the story goes that they are a wife that comes home to a drunk and violent husband. What do you do? Go to the “police” and call for help, go to your “Friend’s House” for comfort, or go to “Church” and talk about your problem.

Group 2 would have a different starting path and slightly different story, perhaps a more or less severe case of domestic violence. Different paths work for different groups.

The same would happen to however many stories/groups the facilitator decides to create.


  1. Different groups will get different results. Groups may end up going back home and get beaten to death by the husband. Groups may end up getting legal actions taken.

  1. Facilitator should mention statistics of domestic violence which is fairly prevalent in South Asian households. Mention how domestic violence is a problem and people think that by going to a friend’s house or by going to church, it will solve the problem. Getting comfort temporarily does help but through the activity, the cycle keeps going unless legal advice is taken. Even when some groups seek legal advice, there are language barriers that limit one from getting help. Also, the legal system may take a while before the person can get help, so they return home only to get beaten further.

9. Mapping Our History/Herstory

Activity can be done with any group size, preferably a medium sized one.

Get a set of pins, string, and a gigantic world map.

Ask participants to tell their family’s immigration story, how and why their family came to America. Ask when they started to immigrate; how their family got started in the U.S., did they move around a lot, where they were born, how their parents met, and any other relevant question.

Place string along each participant’s immigration path and put a pin at each stop during their journey.


  1. Were there common reasons for coming to the United States? Was it to escape war, persecution, pursue education, etc.
  2. Are there common places where participant’s families resided? Are the East and West coasts heavily populated?

10. A/PIA History Timeline

Different variations of this activity exist.

Any number of people can be involved in this activity. Facilitator can divide larger crowds into smaller groups.

In each group, have prominent events in A/PIA history and a detailed description.

Some examples are:

  • The Third World Liberation Front is formed in 1968
  • Executive Order 9066
  • Strike at the International Hotel in 1968
  • The death of Vincent Chin

Have nice pictures demonstrating each event if possible

The facilitator has the option to exclude the dates and try to have groups identify the right order of events. Groups can use clues given in the detailed description about the event or clues in the pictures.


  1. Explain the importance of each event, the results of each if they are not already put in the descriptions. It is important to contextualize the events and demonstrate how these series of events make up A/PIA history. Without hotel strikes and the civil rights movement happening at the time, things like ethnic studies would cease to exist.
  2. Without learning about A/PIA history, it is very difficult to know the exact dates and it might be difficult to get the order correct. Mention that in high school, we have probably never read about these events. The absence of A/PIA history in textbooks says something, that perhaps A/PIA history is devalued or not worth teaching.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Solidarity and Multiracial Collaboration

I don't believe it's true that people are inherently greedy or that people are inherently anything. To say that is such a slippery slope into believing that SOME people are inherently this, A/PIAs are inherently good at math, are inherently better qualified for white collar jobs. Which is to imply that those who don't succeed in math or don't work white collar jobs are...lazy? stupid? failures?

No. Of course not. We talk about the model minority stereotype and how we as A/PIAs have a bimodal distribution in terms of wealth/education/profession etc. But we never talk about what that MEANS or WHY that is a damaging stereotype. It's damaging NOT just because of how it trivializes the struggles of our lower half, but also because if WE are inherently predisposed to success, to pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, then what is wrong with those other minority groups that are struggling? Especially after allll this time, since the Civil Rights Movement saw so much success etc...why are all these other minority groups (aka blacks and Latin@s) having all these problems and are complaining so much??

The Model Minority stereotype holds up A/PIAs as this poster child of hard work and the "American Dream" at the expense of and to the detriment of everybody else. Some people ask why such positive stereotypes are so bad, well they're bad because they come at the expense of the Black Power and Chicano Movements that speak to the rampant institutional racism and discrimination of which our beloved country has such a long history.

We as A/PIAs didn't make strides in terms of breaking racial barriers, overcoming hardships to leadership positions in the political and professional world solely because of our MERIT. That we were able to come this far is inextricably tied to the struggles of other minority groups in this country that had been fighting long before many of us got here. It doesn't mean we're any less entitled to what we've achieved, but it certainly doesn't make us MORE entitled.

Maybe this isn't how everyone feels, but it's pretty apparent to me that the history and mission of UAAO is connected to and stands in solidarity with other students of color and groups of color on our campus and in the community at large. We cannot entirely over come the racism and discrimination that we face as a group as long as there are other groups who face the same, and face it without our support.

It seems cliche, but it doesn't make it any less true when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr says that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

~laura (is ranting...)

Monday, April 6, 2009


Thanks everyone for coming out to MAASU and all the rest of the programming we've had this year!

We hope you enjoyed the conference and hopefully were able to get something out of it (...like a Nice Guy t-shirt or Magnetic North CD!)

As a graduating senior, it was sad to know that this would be my last conference as a Michigan undergrad...and I know for so many more of you it's even more meaningful because you all have been to so many more of these conferences than myself.

The year has gone by so quickly, and I feel like UAAO as an organization has made some good progress this year, and done a lot to reevaluate and think about areas for improvement for next year. I really encourage everyone and anyone who has an opinion on how UAAO ran this year or how the board functioned to please please give us some feedback! (uaao.board@umich.edu) We appreciate and take to heart all of your comments and definitely take them into account when it comes to planning next year's meetings and programming.

(Even negative feedback, because it forces us to look beyond personal feelings and try to figure out what's best for our organization and the community.)

soooo if anyone reads this, please let us know how we've been doing and what you'd like to see more of next year!!

Thanks for a great year,


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Studio 4 Update


UAAO to seek mediation with Studio 4

The United Asian American Organizations have gone to the University’s Office of Student Conflict Resolution to open a mediation process with management from the Studio 4 nightclub. The club is located on 4th Avenue in Ann Arbor.

Leaders of the Chinese Student Association and the Filipino American Student Association — two groups included in UAAO — claim that the club’s managers broke a revenue-sharing contract and used racial profiling to determine the amount of money they would receive from a fundraiser the groups were holding at the club on Nov. 8 of last year.

Ravi Bodepudi, co-chair of the UAAO, said nobody from the organization has been in contact with anyone from Studio 4 since just after the incident. He said there are plans to meet with the OSCR this week to discuss a course of action.

OSCR, part of the Division of Student Affairs, offers conflict resolution services to anyone with a University affiliation. All parties must consent to the process.

Laura Misumi, UAAO’s other co-chair, said that for her, their activism after this incident was about "creating awareness of student empowerment."

Bodepudi had doubts about the effectiveness of mediation.

“We’re not really sure if an apology would be enough,” he said.

OSCR representatives said that they could not disclose information about any specific mediation process. According to CSA President Steve Lai, OSCR has been in touch with Studio 4 management, although it is not known whether they have agreed to take part in the mediation process.

Misumi said UAAO was also working with the University’s Office of Student Activities and Leadership to develop a set of guidelines for student organizations dealing with Ann Arbor businesses to create accountability for both parties.

Ashley Manzano, FASA President, said that before the event in November, there had been a written agreement that the two student groups would publicize the event. In exchange the groups would receive half of the cover charge from everyone who came through the door that night.

At the end of the night, according to Manzano and Lai, the club’s manager, Jeff Mangray, told them that they would only be paid for 50 out of the 111 people who came to the club that night.

Mangray told them this was because they “only brought in 50 Asians,” according to Lai.

Lai said he was threatened by Mangray’s son, who also spat on Manzano and used racial and sexist slurs in an ensuing confrontation outside of the club.

UAAO passed a resolution boycotting the club and condemning the alleged actions of the managers at their last meeting before winter break. Shortly after, the Michigan Student Assembly passed a similar resolution. MSA’s version cut off funding to student organizations for events at Studio 4 temporarily while the Peace and Justice Commission conducted an investigation. The commission was supposed to report its findings at last Tuesday’s meeting, but the presentation was postponed.

Stand Against Studio Meeting today 6pm YK Lounge South Quad (in place of regularly scheduled UAAO meeting)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Top 10 National Non-Profit Organizations for A/PIAs

The Top 10 National Non-Profit Organizations for A/PIAs

By: Veronica Garcia, Arthur Wang, and Claire Vergara

Non-profit organizations have provided social services and political and legal advocacy for A/PIAs, although they are by no means the only sources for these services. We chose to focus on national non-profit organizations because they have emerged as some of the most recognizable and effective resources for A/PIAs, and because national organizations may serve and represent A/PIAs nationally better than an organization with a more local focus.

Rationale and Criteria

To survey our options, we combined personal knowledge and online searches, using a broad list of different foci to identify what we should search for. From this list, we used these initial criteria to select the organizations on the list:

* The organization must explicitly serve A/PIAs
We focused on pan-ethnic organizations; for example, the Organization of Chinese Americans or the Japanese American Citizens League were not included
* The organization must be national
* The organization must be non-profit, typically 501(c)(3)

Once we had our list, we applied various criteria to narrow it down to a top ten:

* Recognition – is the organization well-known? Has the organization won awards or been acknowledged for its work?
* Pioneering – are there other similar national, non-profit organizations for A/PIAs, or were there others when this organization was founded? Does or has the organization focused on a specific issue that has been overlooked or underacknowledged?
* Impact – has the organization made significant progress on its issue? Are there any notable events, campaigns, cases, etc. for which the organization is know or responsible?

Using these criteria, we decided between us which organizations would be included on the top ten. We gave special consideration to the “pioneering” criteria; that is, we tried to diversify the field of issues represented in our selection process. There is no specific order to the list.

APIA Top 10 National Non-Profit Organizations

1. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
2. Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO
3. A/PIAVote
4. Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
5. The Asian American Writers’ Workshop
6. Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)
7. National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)
8. National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO)
9. National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (NCAPACD)
10. Asian and Pacific Islander Health Forum (APIAHF)


1. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

NAPAWF is the only national, multi-issue APA women’s organization in the country. The mission of NAPAWF is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for APA women and girls.


Although NAPAWF has not received any awards, the organization has several accomplishments at national, legislative, and local levels. In 2005, for examples three of NAPAWF’s California chapters voted to organize around 4 bills related to addressing human trafficking, banning phlalates in cosmetic products, and supporting a single-payer health care system in California. In 2004, NAPAWF members organized an International Marriage Broker Regulation Act Lobby Day, to discuss the bill that would protect the rights of mail order brides.


NAPAWF is the only national, multi-issue APA women’s organization in the country. Once an all-volunteer organization, NAPAWF is now one of the few staged national women of color organizations in the U.S. Their reproductive justice and anti-trafficking programs have drawn national attention to the issues not commonly magnified in the APIA community. The California Young Women’s Collaborative is one of the only youth-led research and activism projects that focuses on the reproductive health concerns of API women across California campuses.


NAPAWF has developed a series of fact sheets, issues briefs, and other materials that explore important reproductive issues relating to health care, immigration, contraception, environmental justice, Medicaid, abortion, and sex selection. NAPAWF is also at the forefront of building coalitions and cross-movement strategies with other social justice movements. For example, NAPAWF helps coordinate local, regional, and national initiatives to improve nail salon worker health and safety.

2. Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO

APALA, AFL-CIO is the first and only national organization of APA union members. Founded in 1992, APALA has 11 chapters and pre-chapters and a national office in Washington D.C. APALA has over 600,000 APA workers that have joined unions.


APALA has been credited with shifting the AFL-CIO toward more actively organizing API workers.


APALA remains the first and only national organization for APA union members. It promotes political education and voter registration programs among APAs, as well as training, empowerment, and leadership of APAs within the labor movement and APA community. Furthermore, APALA actively seeks to develop ties within international labor organizations, especially in Asia and the Pacific.


APALA works with the AFL-CIO organizing institute to train API workers in organizing techniques. APALSA also works to build awareness of the labor movement among APA workers. They also build awareness and address exploitative conditions in industries with large numbers of APA workers. Furthermore, APALA is active in federal and state legislative efforts on immigration reform and the access of immigrants both legal and illegal to social services.


A/PIAVote is a national non-profit nonpartisan organization that promotes the civic participation of Asian Pacific Islander Americans on the grassroots, democratic, and policy levels.


To date, A/PIAVote does not have any longstanding awards; however, A/PIAVote has worked closely with all AAPI politicians particularly congresspersons and senators making the organization recognizable on both a state and national level.


A/PIAVote is a unique organization that was started in the early 1990’s as the Asian American identity began to arise in all arenas. For the first time, Asian American populations were being recognized in the media, workforce, and in politics. This was an opportune chance for leaders in the APIA community to come together to create an organization that would empower Asian Americans through not only voter education and registration, but also field building, leadership development, media relations and youth outreach. A/PIAVote provides unique statistics and information about APIA populations regarding voting.


A/PIAVote is unique in that it is a nonpartisan organization, which sets it apart from other organizations that promote APIA voter registration. This year alone, A/PIAVote was monumental in creating events to celebrate APIA achievement in politics at both the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, which was never done before. Furthermore, A/PIAVote tries to be representative on a state level by starting chapters in key states as well as those with high APIA populations. A/PIAVote also builds bridges in the APIA community by working closely with organizations with similar aims like AALDEF and APALA. Lastly, A/PIAVote worked hard to register a record number of APIA voters especially youth through campaigns like Project 5% (registering APIA youth voters through collegiate conferences, student organizations, and the Greek system).

4. Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

AALDEF is a national, New York-based civil rights organization founded in 1974. They educate and protect civil rights by multiple methods: litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing. They are a founding member of the Public Interest Law Center, which includes the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as well as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.


AALDEF continues to receive financial support solely from individuals, corporations, and foundations – the organization does not receive government funding.


AALDEF focuses on multiple issues that affect Asian Americans: immigrants’ rights; voters’ rights and language access; workers’ rights and economic justice; police misconduct; and human trafficking, among others. AALDEF is unique in its combination of methods – they organize at the grassroots level while pursuing legal action and political advocacy. In addition, they have a long-term community-based focus: they provide free legal advice; provide legal resources to community organizations; educate Asian Americans about their rights; and train future lawyers to serve their communities.


AALDEF has shown visible success in litigation and voting rights. Recently, they won a case in which Chinese immigrant restaurant delivery workers were awarded $4.6 million for violations of federal and state laws by two Saigon Grill restaurants in Manhattan. In addition, they have conducted an exit polling effort across up to 11 states in the past few elections, polling thousands of Asian and Arab American voters in order to protect their rights as voters and better document voting trends. They have won cases as a result of observations made by election observers associated with their election protection, leading to the provision of multilingual ballot materials, for example.

5. The Asian American Writers’ Workshop

The Asian American Writers’ Workshop established in 1991 and operates out of a 6,000 square-foot loft in New York, NY. It is one of the most active community arts organizations in the United States. AAWW is devoted to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans.


Since 1998, the AAWA have honored Asian American writers for excellence in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, memoir stage plays and screenplays through their Annual Asian American Literary Awards.


The AAWA has a list of award-winning books and have become an educational resource for Asian American literature and awareness.


Writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies, Unaccustomed Earth), David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), and spoken word poet Beau Sia have led workshops at AAWW. The AAWW loft has a reading room of Asian American literature through the decades.

6. Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

AAJA was founded in 1981 and operates with the mission of encouraging A/PIAs to enter the journalism industry; working for fair and accurate coverage of A/PIAs; and increasing the number of A/PIA journalists and news managers. It is a national non-profit membership organization with chapters in 20 states, as well as members working in Asia. AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists of Color, which includes the Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and National Association of Black Journalists.


In 1995, the University of Missouri awarded the Medal AAJA for Distinguished Service in the Industry.


In 1981, a small group of A/PIA journalists founded AAJA, seeing the need for such an organization. In addition to their stated mission, AAJA also provides greater recognition to A/PIA journalists through its own awards. Besides recognizing achievement in journalism, they also present awards for excellence in coverage of civil rights and issues of social justice for A/PIAs, as well as corporations or individuals that have demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity in the news and industry.


The AAJA now has over 2000 members. They host an annual convention, drawing hundreds of journalists. They provide services to their members in the form of job listings and resume postings. In addition, they run professional programs – training in multimedia and leadership; mentor programs; and fellowships – and programs aimed at students – scholarships for A/PIA journalism undergraduates; internships; and the opportunity to work on projects with other journalists of color.

7. National Asian Pacific Bar Association (NAPABA)

NAPABA is a national association and network of A/PIA attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA advocates for the legal needs and interests of the APA community.


NAPABA currently does not have any outstanding awards or accolades recognized by outside organizations; however, several of the lawyers, judges, and politicians belonging to the organization have been bestowed with the Trailblazer Award, which praises the candidate for any impactful work they may have done. Furthermore, NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and approximately 57 local APA bar associations, with practice settings ranging from solo practices to large firms, corporations, legal services organizations, non-profit organizations, law schools, and governmental agencies.


NAPABA is the only national APA bar association in the United States; however, NAPABA was not the first. Created in 1988, NAPABA has been at the forefront of national and local activities in the areas of civil rights, anti-immigrant sentiment, while increasing the diversity of the judiciaries and firms. NAPABA was the first organized and unified representation of APIA legal workers.


NAPABA does not currently have any specific campaigns, but the organization and its members monitor legislative and judicial developments to promote A/PIA political leadership. NAPABA also advocates for equal opportunity in education and the workplace, eliminate discrimination against A/PIAs, and builds coalitions amongst legal professionals and the community. NAPABA is a resource for APIA government agencies, politicians, and public service organizations. NAPABA serves as the voice of the A/PIA community in the legal realm.

8. National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO)

NAATCO was formed in 1989. It’s mission is to assert the presence and significance of Asian American theatre in the United States by demonstrating its vital contributions to the fabric of American culture. NAATCO takes European and American classics as written with all Asian American casts. They also present adaptations of these plays by Asian American playwrights and new plays written by non-Asian Americans, nor for or about Asian Americans, but realized by an all Asian American cast.


NAATCO was the recipient of the 2006 Rosetta LeNoire Award from Actors' Equity Association in recogntion of its contribution toward increasing diversity and non-traditional casting in American theatre.


NAATCO prides itself on its ability to reach across ethnic boundaries to illuminate universal characteristics of human nature. To quote the NAATCO website, “The superimposition of our Asian faces on a non-Asian repertory, interpreted by artists using diverse and truly universal references to serve the text very faithfully, reflects and emphasizes the kinship among disparate cultures.”


By binding themselves to the American experience but consciously making an effort to transcend ethnic boundaries in order to relay universal truths, NAATCO enriches several cultures, and not just American culture as a whole. NAATCO helps to accurately represent onstage the multi- and intercultural dynamics of our society.

9. National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (NCAPACD)

NCAPACD strives to be a powerful voice for the unique community development needs of A/PIA communities and to strengthen the capacity of community-based organizations to create neighborhoods of opportunity.


NCAPACD currently has no long-standing awards, yet, this organization is pinnacle in doing work that never been performed prior to its inception. NCAPACD has created many local chapters that work to enhance the lives of the lower class socioeconomic A/PIA family as well as working with local community development centers to maintain Chinatowns, Little Manila’s, Little Saigon’s, and similar communities.


National CAPACD is the first national advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the community development needs of diverse and rapidly growing A/PIA communities. NCAPACD is a network of over 100 organizations and individuals in 17 states that serve Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, Native Hawaiians, refugees and immigrants nationwide. The network utilizes affordable housing, community development, and organizing to improve the livelihood of low-income A/PIA communities.


NCAPACD works on key issues of access to housing, data policy, economic justice, and community preservation. With these key aims, NCAPACD promotes home ownership, dispel the Model Minority Myth by trying to show government agencies that A/PIA families suffer from poverty too, assisting those A/PIAs that are limited language proficient, and restoring historical Asian enclaves around the US.

10. Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum (A/PIAHF)

A/PIAHF is a national advocacy organization dedicated to promoting policy, program, and research efforts to improve the health and well-being of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.


A/PIAHF has no long standing awards but has been renowned for their wide array of advocacy programming. Currently, they have created a health information network for A/PIA communities, organized census data pertaining to A/PIA communities, capacity-building for those affected by HIV as well as promoting awareness, doing research and working against domestic violence, and implementing tobacco education/cancer survivorship programs.


A/PIAHF was founded in 1986 to develop to build coalitions and capacity within local A/PIA communities. A/PIAHF advocates for health issues of significance to A/PIA communities, conduct community-based assistance and training, provide health and U.S. Census data analysis and information dissemination, and convene regional and national conferences on A/PIA health.


A/PIAHF enables Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to attain the highest possible level of health and well-being. It envisions a multicultural society where Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are included and represented in health, political, social and economic areas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Studio4 Story From FASA President

As some of you may have heard, an incident involving CSA, FASA, and Studio 4 nightclub occurred two Saturdays ago. On behalf of the two organizations involved that night, we would like to share with you information about some of the injustices committed against us that night. We feel it is necessary for you as individuals and members of our community to know, as something like this could have happened to any organization, and very well may happen again. What follows is a condensed version of the night's events. The full story and important details of the night are attached and at the bottom of this email. It is a much more vivid account of what happened; please take a look if you can. We really encourage that you read the attached testimony to gain a better understanding of the whole situation.

On November 8th, CSA and FASA held a collaborative club night to celebrate their respective events, Celebrasia and Philippine Culture Night, resulting in the party "Illuminous". Turnout was a success; many members and friends of the organizations attended. However, poor business practices and discrimination surfaced at the end of the night, causing an altercation between the owners of Studio 4 and the two organizations.

CSA and FASA had been contracted to promote the party that night; the terms that were signed off on were that the two organizations would receive "50% of all cover charge revenue for the night." However, the owner had also cross-promoted with another entity, "Social Studies", and though the owner reassured that the cross-promotions would not alter the terms of the existing contract, he subsequently failed to adhere to his word and the contract. As the organizations came to collect their dues at the end of the night, he claimed that due to advertisement on behalf of multiple parties, CSA and FASA would only be entitled to payment for those they brought in. In the owners' opinions, CSA and FASA only brought in "50 Asians" as evidenced by tally marks on a clipboard from the club entrance. Their "official" count of total persons paying cover fees amounted to 111 people. The situation escalated to the point where the disagreement became physical, personal, and extremely unprofessional in the form of pushing, name-calling, and spitting.

It should be said that at the very least, there was a breach of contract and ethnic and gender discrimination in effect. It is unjust to assume that organizations centered on ethnicities can only have friends of the same ethnicity, and it is even more reprehensible to count people according to ethnicity at the door of any establishment. These are just a few of our concerns, and we are currently taking steps to address this issue on several levels.

As fellow A/PIA organizations and leaders on this campus, we feel it is pertinent to disclose this issue with you so that you may make informed decisions as an individual and/or as part of an organization. Neither FASA nor CSA will attend Studio 4, nor will we engage in future business dealings with them. This is not only about injustice, but about being taken advantage of and disrespected as individuals, business partners, and members of the A/PIA community.

Please pass the word along. Knowledge is the first step to awareness, and the consequences of failing to act against an injustice like this is a violation of everyone's rights, regardless of race or identity. If you have had similar experiences with Studio 4 management in the past, please get in touch with either UAAO, CSA board, FASA board, Steve or me. We would like to hear your stories and take a stand against injustice that unfortunately still exists today.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Studio4 Story From CSA President

On the afternoon leading up to the club event, I heard that there was another event being hosted at Studio 4 on the same night that we had scheduled our event. I decided to call Reese in order to figure out what exactly was going on. He told me that he was starting a marketing group called “Social Studies” and that he knew that we had booked the club that night already. He then assured me that Social Studies would not affect the terms of our contract in any way and that it may even boost the turn out and we could potentially earn more money. He even asked me to help promote the Social Studies marketing group and let people know at CelebrAsia that people over the age of 21 would have their first drink on the house. That was basically my conversation with Reese and I, in turn, passed the message along to both CSA and FASA boards and told them that we did not have to worry about the event being promoted by Social Studies as well.

After the end of the event, we approached Jeff (Studio 4 owner) to collect our share of the night’s cover. According to the terms of the contract, Studio 4 would split the night’s cover with CSA and FASA; 50% going to the club and the other 50% to be split between CSA and FASA.

During our conversation, he continued to refuse to honor our contract and said he would only pay us for the fifty Asians that he thought were there that night (he had tallied the Asians on his clipboard as they came in). His reason was that we felt that Social Studies did all the work to promote the event. We reasoned with him some time about the fact that it doesn’t matter how many Asians came in and that even some of the board members brought in friends that were not Asian. We also reminded him of the terms of the contract and that it did not state that we would receive 50% of the gains from the cover of the Asians, but just 50% of the gains from the paid attendees. The conversation escalated into an argument because Jeff continually refused honor the contract and even began to call the FASA board members names. He then kicked all of us out of the club.

Outside of the club, Reese approached me and began to argue with me. Continually referring to the FASA board members as “skank ass bitches” and even spat at one of them at one point. He then threatened to shut down our organizations and even report us to the university to get us removed from school because of his pull on campus. During this, he began to back me against a wall and seemed as if he was about to hit me. My friend tried to pull me away and told me to “just leave because he was being jerk”. Reese then started walking towards my friend and threatening him for calling him a jerk. I wanted to prevent any trouble so I pulled Reese back and he then threatened to hit me because I touched him. I was trying to reason with him and tell him that I was worried that he’d hit my friend and I even told him that I prevented him from getting in trouble for getting into a fight at his own club. Reese backed me up against the wall again and at one point his security and my friends pulled each of us away and that is when I left the area.

After leaving, Reese called me around 3am and again threatened to shut down our organization because he felt that we disrespected his father because of our argument, but I told him that we did not mean to disrespect him and that we were trying to reason with him but he kept on calling us names and it escalated from there. He continued to threaten me and even said that he would find me and wanted to meet up with me to “settle this tonight”. He then said that if we were thinking about suing him that we would fail because of his pull on campus. At that point, I knew that the conversation would not go anywhere so I told him that I would call him when things calmed down. He called me about three more times that night, but I didn’t pick up the phone.

Sunday morning, I received a call from Jeff and we spoke more calmly about the incident and initially still only wanted to pay us for the “50 Asians” that were there that night. I kept telling him that he had to honor his contract and he eventually agreed to pay us our fair share. At this point though, we had already been threatened and offended beyond wanting to accept the money. Therefore, I told him that I would discuss his offer with the two orgs and get back to him.