A Third Party

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“A Third Party”

By: Andrew Mathews

            Prior to working for the APADRC as a Conflict Resolution Specialist, I had very little knowledge about mediation or the process and skills needed for the position.  I quickly learned that patience and persistence play a significant role in the success or failure of the mediator and case.  Our training sessions emphasize the importance of remaining neutral and impartial, but I quickly learned how difficult that could be. One of the first cases assigned to me dealt with a group of international college students and their University’s Student Housing program.  The square footage of the apartment was significantly smaller than advertised and the students felt they were being taken advantage of. English, after all, was their second language, and they were new to how things operated here in the United States.  After attempting to resolve the issue repeatedly to no avail, the students started to feel like they had exhausted all of their energies and time. After finding out about the APADRC, the students contacted us for assistance, and we were able to mediate a settlement that included a reduction in the rent and a refund of the previous rent checks previously paid by the students to the university. The negotiation process and settlement agreement took several months with several phone calls between the parties and myself, but it was worth it in the end.

I feel that we provided a beneficial service to both the international students and the university because we were able to help them communicate in their respective languages in a constructive and efficacious way. This case highlights the importance of having a person who speaks a party’s language fluently in order to capture the nuances of their words as well as convey to them the opportunity for change and agreement in an efficient manner.

For many non-native English speakers, the APADRC is a valuable resource. I take great pride in being a balanced mediator who possesses skills as simple as being able to open the door to constructive communication, a powerful tool that I had previously undervalued. These kinds of cases remind me that what we do here as volunteers, the time and the emotions we invest, go beyond just a case number and into the individuals themselves. There is a humanistic element that underlies all of our cases and all of our work as mediators. Thought we strive to be a neutral third party, it does not preclude our feelings of empathy and sympathy. In fact, it necessitates it, and cases like this, as well as the people that I work with in the center, constantly and wonderfully remind me of that.

Saving Business Relationships

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Saving Business Relationships

By Ying Wang

In this story of a successful mediation between a business and its long-time customer, we start with Sally, who had the tail light of her BMW repaired at Joseph’s repair shop.

Sally paid Joseph $700 for the repair. Two months later, one of the car’s sensors began to malfunction, so Sally contacted Joseph to ask if he could repair that as well. Joseph replied that he would try to fix it for her but that he couldn’t guarantee success. Later, Sally found reason to suspect that the sensor was damaged during Joseph’s repair of the tail light.

Surprised by this unusual negligence on Joseph’s part, Sally asked for her $700 back and an additional $400 to repair thesensor elsewhere as compensation for the damage. Joseph did not believe it was his responsibility to return the money and pay the additional cost for repairing at another shop, explaining that he had nothing to do with the sensor damage. After a few phone calls to Joseph with no progress, Sally decided not to deal with Joseph by herself and called us for help and told us her story.

Sally, Party 1 (P1), is a customer of Party 2 (P2), a merchant. P1 sought mediation services after realizing that she could not resolve the dispute with the business owner without the help of a neutral third party. The fact that P1 only spoke English and P2’s first language was Spanish made it more difficult for them to communicate.  However, our bilingual mediators allowed for smoother communication between both sides.

During the mediation, P2 confirmed that he said he could try to repair the sensor for P1. However, P2 said that because it took P1 two months to discover the faulty sensor, the damages were caused during this time period after instead of during the repairs. P1 explained to P2 that since her car was a BMW, discovery of the damaged sensor was delayed, because the dealership had to inspect all the electronic components to ensure the car was functioning properly. Furthermore, P1 also went on vacation for a month after repairing the car which was why P1 contacted P2 two months after his initial repairs on the tail light. P1 stated that she preferred for another shop to repair the sensor primarily because P2 could not promise a complete repair and secondly because she believed the sensor was damaged during the first repair by P2.

At the end of the day, the issue became whether or not the damage to the sensor was caused by P2. Neither party wanted to pursue further investigation as it was costly and time-consuming and so proving the source of the sensor damage became impossible. This left the dialogue at a “he said, she said” impasse, with neither party able to prove their side nor seemingly willing to compromise with the other. In mediation, however, there is a human element that is often pushed out of more legalistic situations. This knowledge enabled our mediators to restore the relationship.

Both P1 and her father have been long-time customers of P2, establishing a common interest in future business for both parties. P2 wanted to keep P1 happy to maintain a good customer-merchant relationship while P1 did not want to select another auto repair shop because she and her father were quite pleased with P2’s prior work and were quite surprised by this rare incidence of negligence.

Therefore their common interest was to solve the problem and continue the relationship. After a few conversations, P2 was willing to return the money P1 paid for repairs. Although there was a $400 gap, the parties were willing to compromise and P2 returned the original $700 and also gave an additional $100. These compromises demonstrated that there was hope of repairing their relationship. Our goal for this mediation was to guide the customer and the merchant to a mutual understanding and to accept the differences between each other to work out a mutually beneficial agreement.

Overall, the mediation went pretty smoothly. After a few conversations between the two parties through a neutral and bilingual mediator, they reached an agreement in which both sides made concessions. Today, Sally remains a regular patron of Joseph’s shop for all her car maintenance needs and even recommends his services to her friends and family. Joseph’s business is more successful and he is happy to have come out of mediation with an even better relationship with a loyal customer. Sometimes both parties just need a neutral place for them to communicate their concerns and interests and feel at ease in a safe, cooperative atmosphere before they can agree to a mutually beneficial solution.

Creating a Forum for Community Dialogue and Action in Japan

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After leaving the APADRC as Program Director and arriving in Tokyo this past August, time has been peeling away as I’ve acclimated.  There has been so much to learn: new cultural norms, language, re-establishing a routine, growing familiar with the institutions of International Christian University (ICU) where I am an MA graduate student, and getting to know the other 9 Rotary Peace Fellows and many other students here.  This spring though, I am dedicated to becoming more active in my community and on the ICU campus to bring new resources and trainings in collaboration with the APADRC and other organizations.

Every week I have been partnering with an organization called Space Hachinoko, which is a hub for social welfare and education related groups and activities.  I spend time conversing in English with women and mothers who are looking to improve their English-speaking abilities, usually in anticipation of returning to the job market.  The organization also include a daycare center and after school care program, a clinic, organic cafe, and various support groups for non-Japanese residents living in the area.  All of these activities are supported and run by the collaboration of parents, staff, and volunteers.

The topics in these conversations vary week to week, but I have been learning about the challenges that particularly mothers face in Japanese society.  For example, the center helps support the children of non-Japanese families with after-school tutoring and support.  I can testify first-hand how challenging the Japanese language is!  Additionally, the organization just gave crowd-funded assistance for the first time ever to a young college-bound woman had needed to pay for her college registration, but her financial aid wouldn’t arrive until the following month.  Because both of her parents were between jobs at the time, she was ineligible for bank loans, and Space Hachinoko helped raise enough money to cover her registration.  It is heartening to have found this organization, affirming that there are incredible grassroots community organizations everywhere, working to support immigrant, non-native language speakers through the ups and downs of navigating cultural and bureaucratic challenges of their new homes.

This January, a delegation of undergraduate students from the University of the Free State, South Africa came to visit the ICU campus.  These student leaders came as part of the “Leadership for Change” program, which was a prevention intervention program launched in 2010 in response to racially motivated tensions and incidents on the campus.  I was honored to spend a good deal of time with these student leaders in both informal settings such as karaoke, and was honored when they invited me to give a presentation on mediation and the work of the APADRC.  Many of the students in the program were also medical students, and so they were very interested in the idea of using mediation as an alternative to litigation in their practices, as only one or two of them had ever heard of mediation before.  They also bravely offered to wake up a little earlier one morning if I would give a basic communication and conflict styles training, which we arranged for the day before their departure back to South Africa.  This was also their first introduction to these communication concepts, and we explored listening, communication styles, and diversity within the group.  At the end of the training one of the students presented me with a beautiful beaded bracelet that she had made that is popular and generally sold by beach vendors in South Africa.  I think that it was that moment where I was truly awed at how from Los Angeles and South Africa we were brought to Tokyo in order for this exchange of ideas, friendship and inspiration to take place, and felt blessed.

Also in January, I coordinated a workshop that brought Lissette Lorenz, a Shansi fellow from Oberlin, to ICU to introduce Theater of the Oppressed (TO) principles and exercises.  I was originally introduced to Theater of the Oppressed through the work of Gender Justice LA, ImaginAction, and eventually participated in an LA workshop facilitated by Sarah Shourd, one of the three American hikers detained in Iran in 2009.  TO is a model of community-based theater developed by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Augusto Boal. First started in Brazil, Boal’s native country, it has been practiced around the world for over 40 years.  The goal of TO is for participants to dramatically analyze real-life oppressions/obstacles/challenges they face and act out potential solutions to overcome them. The theater process thus empowers participants to go out into the world and take action against the oppression, using the very solutions they tried out during scene work. TO is, according to Boal, “rehearsal for the revolution.”

We had an incredibly diverse group of participants, including individuals from Sri Lanka, Russia, Thailand, Japan, and the U.S.  For all of these participants, this was their first introduction to Theater of the Oppressed.  In the workshop space, we explored a number of social issues relevant to the group’s issues and concerns, including the role of language and power dynamics on the university campus.  ICU offers courses in both English and Japanese, and so challenges arise in the classroom as students struggle to understand and express themselves in a non-native language.  In one of our Forum Theater plays, we explored ways in which teachers, non-native speakers and native speakers could make the university classroom a safer and more supportive environment for the open sharing of ideas.

Although it has been challenging to leave the incredibly vibrant mediation community of Los Angeles, I am excited to share these concepts and ideas with my new community here in Tokyo.  Whenever I speak about mediation or the APADRC and its role in peacebuilding across diverse communities in Los Angeles, I have been received by students and teachers positively and they show a tremendous interest in learning more.  I am excited to announce that our next large-scale project that will be taking place this spring is the APADRC’s first international Community Mediation training on the ICU campus!  We will be offering the training to Rotary Peace Fellows, Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) Fellows, and ICU students, staff and faculty.  Stay updated by making sure to sign up for our newsletter (if you haven’t done so already) and please consider making a donation to help support the APADRC’s work in offering trainings and our other incredible programs.  From my perspective across the Pacific ocean, I can only tell you that my experience has reaffirmed how unique the APADRC is in its legacy and commitment to supporting the API community in Los Angeles and building bridges of peace across LA’s diverse communities through conflict resolution and mediation.  I send my appreciation and support to all of the incredible staff, volunteers, teacher sponsors, peer mediators and supporters that help make sure that these incredible services are available and look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Breaking the Cycle of Violence

by Jennifer Torres

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Living in Southern Los Angeles violence was prevalent throughout my community, as I saw gang violence emerge from every corner at night. Late at night I would wake up to the noise of helicopters flying right above my neighborhood due to gang violence. I grew up in a violent community and I would see how violence would mold youth to become a part of the never ending cycle of violence. There was something that needed to be done in order to end this cycle and to make my community less violent and more accepting for future generations.

In 2011 I decided to become a Peer Mediator for King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. I became a Peer Mediator because I wanted to be a part of the solution and end violence. Many of my peers come from similar communities that I come from and violence has also been prevalent in their lives. Many of peers would resolve their problems with violence and as a consequence they would get suspended or expelled. I was sick and tired of seeing my peers fight over misunderstandings that could have been handled differently instead of resulting to fighting which lead them to expulsion. As a high school student, being in a hostile violent environment was something that I did not want to experience and through Peer Mediation I made sure that students would never experience that type of environment. I wanted my fellow peers to experience an accepting and friendly environment in order for them to grow and prosper.

Peer Mediation gives an alternative way of solving problems in order to avoid violence and has taught me how to handle disagreements and problems. Through mediating cases I noticed that there are different sides to a story as well as different ways of solving a situation that does not lead to physical harm. The reason why physical violence happens is because no one wants to discuss their problem so they act on their emotions instead of facing their problem. The reason why many problems occur is because of misleading information that has been accumulated through gossip. This gossip can be toxic and very hurtful to someone which can lead to violence. Talking about a problem can diminish misleading information and clear up anything that needs to say between the disputants.

I’ve learned that being prideful isn’t going to take me far, sometimes you have to swallow your pride in order to get over the problem and get to the solution. I’ve used skills that Peer Mediation has taught me in my school and social life. I’ve noticed that I have less problems and less altercation with my peers because I know how to handle a situation and how to approach the problem in a nonviolent manner. Peer Mediation breaks the cycle of violence as it educates its mediators as well as the student getting mediated on ways on how to solve a problem in a nonviolent way. These valuable new skill are hopefully are applied to their everyday life, so that they can practice in their community. These skills can be spread throughout communities so that others can adopt them and diminish the violence cycle.

Bridging Cultural and Generational Conflicts in Mediation

One morning, a Chinese single mother called the DRC. The first thing she asked us was if we could kick her daughter out of the house. I heard this and I felt what she said was very strange. Why did she want to kick her own daughter out of her house? So, I asked her to speak slowly and tell me the whole story.

This mother told me that she has a daughter, her only child, and this daughter was born and raised in Los Angeles. She raised her daughter with a lot of passion and energy and eventually, her daughter was able to attend one of the best university in Los Angeles. Last year, the daughter graduated and was then able to find a decent job. Not long after this, she started dating someone younger than her who was still attending college.

Ever since her daughter started dating this boy, she would often come home very late, and one day her mother discovered birth control pills in her daughter’s car. The mother has always paid a lot of attention to her daughter’s education and upbringing. She is also very proud that her daughter was able to attend a very good university. However, growing up in a very conservative and traditional environment in China, the mother couldn’t accept that her daughter was coming home late every night and presumably, having sex with her boyfriend. She felt very ashamed of her daughter’s behavior. As the mother spoke to me, she used some very extreme language denoting her anger and disappointment at her daughter.

I initiated a call to the daughter after taking the mother’s intake. The daughter and I conversed in English which allowed her to better express her feelings and speak the truth of her thoughts. The daughter became very emotional during our conversation. She agreed that what her mother told me was the truth, but she felt even more pain than her mother. She could not stand the very harsh and cold language her mother used anymore. She felt like she had to remain silent ever since she was little, because her mother never gave her the chance to speak up. However, though she felt like she was unfairly treated by her mother, she also understood how important she was to her. She knew of the sacrifices her mother did just for her, never going out with her own friends so she could be at home with her. But, she also didn’t want to compromise the relationship she had with her boyfriend.

This case presented us with a few challenges:

  1. There is a cultural conflict as the values of the mother and daughter are different
  2. There is a generation gap. The mother and daughter grew up in different times and circumstances; they have different attitudes towards what proper sexual conduct between couples should be.
  3. The mother believes that her daughter failed to live up to so many years of upbringing as the mother believes that her daughter does not know how much effort was put into raising her; the daughter believes that she has put up with a lot of her mother’s  harshness for many years and that the mother does not understand her.

We saw that the way to successfully solve this case was to guide the mother and the daughter to understand and accept the differences between each other.

We realized that both parties are upset with the other on certain issues, but at the same time they still very much love each other. The mother had always prioritized her daughter’s well-being and the daughter also dearly appreciated her mother. Their common interest was maintaining a healthy mother-daughter relationship.

These factors allowed us to know before beginning mediation that there was hope of repairing the relationship. We hoped to help the mother understand her daughter’s lifestyle while ensuring that the two will mutually support each other in the future. In order to help both sides better express their feelings during mediation, we spoke to the mother in Chinese and in English with the daughter. Our bilingual mediators allowed for smoother communication between both sides.

In this case, the mediation had limited success in that because the mother was ultimately unable to flex some of the ideals she carried to allow for acceptance of her daughter’s perspective. However, both sides did make some concessions: while the daughter has moved out, the mother has been providing some financial support for her independence. Most importantly, according to our follow-up investigation, their relationship has remained stable, with the daughter still regularly coming back home for dinner and with both sides mutually supporting each other. This is the beauty of mediation.

 

Welcome to our New Community Mediators!

Having just gone through our 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training, we’re so excited to have our new group of conflict resolution specialists. Joining us this Fall in the Community & Intergroup Conflicts program are Scott (Mandarin), Sharon (Korean), Julie (Korean),Fanny (Cantonese), Andrew (Mandarin), Jenny (Mandarin/Cantonese), Francy (Spanish), Valeria (Spanish), Lactan (Vietnamese), Rini (Hindi), Miyoko (Japanese), and Leowil (Mandarin, Tagalog, Spanish). Our interns are coming from various states and schools from across the country. Coming from different backgrounds, they are a collection of students, lawyers, and experienced professional mediators but all of them are enthusiastic about community mediation.

These interns perform a special and unique facilitation/ conciliation/ mediation service to the greater Los Angeles community. Without the services of these hard-working individuals, many members of the Los Angeles community, many of which only speak their native language, would find it hard to engage with each other. By undertaking the role of a conflict resolution specialist, our interns not only help solve conflicts in the Los Angeles community by taking client calls, performing intakes, and managing cases, but also hope to create an even greater impact in the community. Such impact revolves around participating in community outreach programs. This circle of influence has spread to neighborhoods from the San Gabriel Valley all the way down south to Orange County. None of this could be possible without the vigor and energy our interns bring to the center. Thus, it is with great appreciation for their efforts that we at the APADRC warmly welcome our fall interns and volunteers.

For those interested in interning or volunteering with us, our next 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training is coming up in January 2014. With a combination of online classes, in-person sessions, and coached role plays, the APADRC basic mediation training is a new and innovative way of learning about conflict resolution and developing advanced communication skills. Look out for our flyer in the next newsletter!

In the Spotlight: Stephanie Ticas

My name is Stephanie Ticas, and I am a Peer Mediator coordinator at King Drew Magnet High school through the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. I recently received my BA in criminal justice hoping to become a youth probation officer. I am the second oldest in my family and I grew up in a single parent, low income household. As one of the older siblings, I took in a lot of responsibility due to my circumstances at the time. I have personally grieved a loss in my family, a very important person, and experienced a close relative’s fall into depression. I can honestly say that these events in my life helped me become who I am today. I felt like it was the end of the world for me at the time, I didn’t know what would become of me without my mother. When these events happened, it was tough growing up but I felt that I had to be strong for my family. Therefore, I basically raised my younger siblings even though we didn’t grow up with the best of the best material wise, I had to teach them things I was barely learning too about boys, womanly things, what was popular at the time and even the simplest things that matter, like saying please and thank you. I became dedicated to my family they are my strength and support to have kept going in life and exceeding. I became determine to go to college, to be the best example and to be financially well off so one day I provide my father with all the riches he deserves.

As I was growing up my family wasn’t perfect I wasn’t perfect either. I was only a child grieving and mad at the world for taking the most important person in my life. I would constantly fight my older sister; now looking back I see how my behavior towards her impacted her depression. I didn’t understand her behavior why she chose to feel unmotivated, she showed lack of interest in everything, why she couldn’t do anything or go anywhere. I felt angry towards her because I needed her to help me not I felt she was being greedy having people feel sorry for her as if she was the only one grieving. However, I was wrong; depression isn’t a choice, it’s very serious, so serious that it can lead to suicide. I am glad to say now that she was able to move on from being depressed and happy to know that even after how I pushed her she never intended suicide. When I went to college I learned about depression and thought about my sister and it hit me, it opened my eyes to understand that even though people experience the same event we will all react differently and it’s not their fault.

My family and I had our share of a troubled teen. One of my younger sisters was a very angry person, she was very resentful toward my father, also very vengeful. As she started middle school many girls would pick on her because she has a strong attitude and looked angry she wouldn’t let herself so fought back getting into many fights. This created a lot of conflict in my family. In a way this was her cry for help but my father didn’t see it that way. My father has always been very strict with us; he is old school and believed that the only way to solve any issue is with harsh punishments and he was not very affectionate toward us either. I was always on my sister’s side, defending her, talking to her, trying to get through to her. But my father didn’t like that so there was always tension, no communication, and misunderstandings. Luckily my father was able to seek help elsewhere, he started taking parent classes and we noticed he changed. I realized that my father was trying, struggling to do his best even though that’s not what we would see, and he never gave up on us even though at times it felt as if he did.

My father and my sisters are the reasons why I want to reach out to others especially teens because I know how it feels to reach rock bottom, how it feels as if it’s the end of the world when grieving, I know that tough stubborn parent, I seen how depression can affect someone and the whole family and feeling all alone when you are not. I haven’t seen it all of course but I know how conflict or certain events can affect people especially because no one is taught how to face and react to conflict or any tough situation. It’s a harsh world out there and I want to show teens that people aren’t all out to get them and that they are not all alone in this world. It’s about your perspective in life.

Building a More Peace’able’ World

Mediation is addictive. As those of us in the field know, its power and impact cross cultures and professions. And, we, the people who mediate, facilitate, or are in other ways involved in peace building, are obsessed, determined and hungry for more.

It’s with this in mind that I joined over 200 mediators, facilitators and allies in Istanbul from September 24 to October 3 for Mediators Beyond Borders International’s (MBBI) 6th Congress. A fascinating show of peace builders and peace makers from across the globe, the Congress presented an opportunity for learning, sharing and celebrating the work that we do on an international level. As the title above dictates, MBBI’s vision is to create a global peace-able movement through local communities and professionals.

I came to the Congress as one of the five-member Vocational Training Team (VTT) sponsored by Rotary District 5280. The first team focused on Peace and Conflict Resolution, we were led by retired judge and practicing mediator Gregory O’Brien. Vocational Training Teams are “a group of professionals who travel to another country either to learn more about their profession or to teach local professionals about a particular field, according to Rotary International.” Vocational Training Teams are also “designed to [use] the vocational and professional skills of team members, particularly in countries where resources and infrastructure are limited, [to] improve the facilities and living conditions of the people living there.” However, as part of the first team in Rotary International’s history to specifically bring together professionals in the mediation or conflict resolution field, our role was largely exploratory, paving the way for future Peace and Conflict Resolution teams to develop the resources and knowledge we brought back.

And, surely enough, there was a generous breadth of resources to be found. The intensive 3-day conference included workshops on designing dialogues around political issues, online mediation, promoting participatory democracy, gender issues in negotiation, and various MBBI projects from Kenya to Israel. One workshop that I attended highlighted the peace building work being done in Northern Ireland between warring communities of Protestants and Catholics. The presenters, Enda Young and Alan Ruddock, introduced TIDES Training, their organization that focuses on Transformation, Interdependence, Diversity, Equity and Sustainability as principles for its community work. It was especially notable to me how TIDES works in close collaboration with housing and community development agencies to address both the contentious cultural issues as well as the resource limitations (lack of developed housing, access to integrated schools) that support the legacies of conflict between communities. This collaborative model between housing, social welfare and conflict resolution agencies may well be something that can be developed here in Los Angeles given our own legacies of conflict.

Aside from the workshops, I was privileged to have been able to connect with the local Rotarians through the VTT. With their knowledge of Istanbul, the politics and needs of their individual districts, I was able to gain a better understanding of the current conflicts, like the protests in Taksim Square, that reverberate throughout Turkey today. I was also able to share my own experiences as a mediator and peace builder to new allies that can move the work forward through local means.

Rotary’s District 5280 remains committed to furthering the work in peace and conflict resolution. Alongside my VTT team members, we will be writing a paper designed to move new VTT teams forward with the ideas and resources gathered from the MBBI conference and local Rotarians. It’s certainly an exciting time to be part of the peace building process, and I encourage anyone interested in peace and conflict resolution to reach out and make your own way towards this work that, Lynn Cole, President of MBBI, described as creating the light in people.

Action Steps Resources

Presented at Moment for Community Dialogue and Action: Coming Together Across Difference to Make Change

August 21, 2013

 

National Economic Black Out – Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Justice for Trayvon Martin, Los Angeles asks for all people to join in solidarity on August 28 and withhold all purchases that day. We ask that no purchases which contribute or support the domestic economy be made on this day to protest racial and social injustice in the U.S. legal system.

Register your participation and spread the word: www.facebook.com/J4tmla

For more information, contact:

Camille R. Quinones Miller, (215) 275-8525

Sharlia Kimberly LeBreton-Gulley, (209) 345-8474, ashe.revolution@gmail.com

 

Open a Civil Rights Case Against George Zimmerman

Sign the petition from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to the Department of Justice Today.

“The most fundamental of civil rights – the right to life – was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin. We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation.

Please address the travesties of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin by acting today.”

To sign the petition, go to: www.naacp.org/page/s/doj-civil-rights-petition

 

Support the “End Racial Profiling Act”

We need this important legislation which takes concrete steps to put an end to the insidious practice of racial profiling by law enforcement at all levels.

Make a phone call, write a letter, send a fax, or send an email to you Senators and Representative! Make sure to take a copy of the act at the resources table.

For more information online, go to: www.naacp.org

 

Take Action to End the Epidemic of Gun Violence!

We must change the cultural norms around gun violence so that the default setting is to prioritize the safety of our young people. Gun violence is an epidemic.

Sign an online petition. Show our legislators your support.

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: www.wearebetterthanthis.org

Mayors Against Illegal Guns: www.demandaplan.org

Americans for Responsible Solutions: http://action.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/page/s/tell-congress

 

Within Our Lifetime: Take Action to End Racism

We invite you to connect with others in your region who are committed to Racial Healing and Racial Equity. If we are going to end racism within our lifetime, all of us working towards that goal need to be as connected as possible. So, we hope to see you on one of these calls!

To RSVP for the California call, go to: www.withinourlifetime.net/TakeAction/index.html

For more information on the National Network for Racial Equity and Healing, contact:

1 (408) NETWORK, network@withinourlifetime.net

 

Self-lead initiatives you can create or join:

Resources and Statements

Many organizations and individuals have created resources and statements to help articulate the issues. These statements and resources have been used to show solidarity while sharing knowledge and impact. Sharing resources and statements or creating your own can help to continue raising awareness about racial injustice.

Create and Engage in Community Dialogues

Community Coalition initiated a dialogue themed, “Our Sons Matter,” this space was created for community members to discuss reactions to the Trayvon verdict and develop next steps to move forward together. These dialogue and action spaces can be healing and transformative spaces for community members to connect and to work together towards change.

Bring these conversations to your work place

            Asian Americans Advancing Justice| Los Angeles’ staff members initiated and organized a brown bag to allow staff time and space to process their reflections on the Zimmerman verdict as well as think through potential ways the organization could respond and engage these struggles that community members are facing. Staffs were able to hear and support each other while considering the resources of their organization and how those resources could be used to create change.

Collaboration

Several organizations came together for a Moment for Community Dialogue and Action to ensure that diverse communities were engaging and taking action around racial injustice. Working in collaboration and building space that create long-term solidarity, expands our ability to make change while making sure that multiple experiences and voices are accounted for in our solutions.

 

Struggle with Love

IMG_3729 - Copyby Kim Navoa

(We have been fortunate at the APADRC to have Kim as a summer intern through LEAP’s Leadership in Action program. She has spent the last two months researching and developing a curriculum for our peer mediation program, creating unique materials including guided role plays and experiential activities for students.) 

I have never left the comfort of Chicago for an extended period of time. While I was excited and anxious when I was accepted, what really pushed me to follow through with this internship was my placement at the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center in the youth program, which was my top choice through LEAP.

Since my sophomore year of high school, I spent my summers as a teacher’s assistant at a community art center in Evanston, Illinois working with kids from ages 5-14 in classes like painting, fashion design, and animation. While I was able to build a relationship with the different artists and teachers I assisted, what really kept me there over the past six summers were the talented kids. Seeing their growth over the summer—and some over the years—as artists and people was particularly rewarding, knowing I was able to provide them with the support they needed to develop their skills. I witnessed their passion grow stronger and their confidence in their own abilities flourish as they experimented in different forms of art. After working with kids for so long, I eventually started to offer support to young adults and my peers. For the past three years, I served as a peer mentor for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Asian American Mentor Program. I provided incoming freshman and transfer students with support and guidance to ensure their smooth, fun, and safe transition into college life. I encouraged them to attend our weekly sessions where we discussed everything from sex/dating to Asian American identity. They understood that no matter how sensitive the issue may be, I would be there for them if they needed me.

Youth and students are a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me. I frequently volunteer with the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center, leading me to spend time with their youth council, Fighting Youth Shouting Out for Humanity, which is comprised of a diverse group of high school and college students who are actively involved in social justice advocacy. Their main focus at the moment is immigration reform, which hits close to home for me. As an undocumented student who until college didn’t reclaim my immigration status as part of my identity, I can’t even begin to describe how incredible it is to see young people so passionate and knowledgeable about issues that they know affect their community. They fight for equality and liberation and don’t allow themselves to be taken lightly just because of their age.

My dedication to youth empowerment is what brings me here to the APADRC. In the month that I have been here, I have completely immersed myself in youth oriented work, particularly in developing inclusive and interactive curriculums around healthy relationships and bullying with the APADRC and the Center for the Pacific Asian Family. Creating a curriculum is a first for me, and it has been challenging tackling these two heavy issues. It also forced me to reflect on my own experiences, challenges, and privileges.

So far, my time in Los Angeles has been well spent. I not only get to do work that I’m passionate about, but I also have more access to things that I usually don’t in Chicago. Some of my favorite experiences so far have been an identity focused workshop I took with Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations with other AAAJC interns and a field trip the APADRC took to the Western Justice Center. I am particularly interested in their Compassion Plays youth program, which allows youth to use theatre as a means to bring awareness and facilitate discussions about tough issues like racial stereotypes and LGBTQ bullying. Since I have been here, I find myself doing more self reflections. I constantly wonder, “why youth?” The more I ask myself this, the more I think about what kind of support I needed at their age. I want to provide them with the access to resources and guidance that assists in their personal growth so they can grow up to be leaders in their own communities.

As a young, undocumented Asian woman transitioning from campus organizations to community organizations, I have to actively seek support and resources that will help me get to where I want to be. I had my fair share of run-ins with oppressive male leaders, problematic non-intersectional “activism”, and self important organizers who refuse to acknowledge their own privileges. It took some time, but I eventually found my community in Chicago: a group of peers and experienced organizers who understand the importance of intersectional identity in all aspects of social justice, using our privileges to empower others, and treating each other with the utmost respect. As some of them say, we struggle with love for our communities and for each other. While I finally found my place in Chicago, I also wonder if I would be willing to take some time after graduation to find community in Los Angeles. In the short time that I have been here, I can already sense how much I have grown as a leader and as an individual, and I know I want to continue that growth.

 

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