By Ed Diokno
In a strange way, Donald Trump is uniting us.
The momentum from last weekend’s Women’s Marches across the country and supportive demonstrations around the world, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the anti-Vietnam demonstrations of the 60s and 70s, is not faltering. On the contrary, the resistance is building.
Over a hundred Asian American and Pacific Islander organizations have committed to resist President Trump and his Administration, by signing a Letter of Resistance. The signatories feature a variety of national organizations, local groups, and student organizations of South Asians, East Asians, Southeast Asians, Muslims, and Buddhists that focus on a range of issues from worker rights and economic justice to health and racial justice advocacy.
The joint statement rejects making racism, hate, xenophobia, and sexism normal, and details principles by which organizations will advocate, mobilize, and organize their respective constituencies together in our collective resistance and solidarity efforts.
Johanna Puno Hester, National President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO and Assistant Executive Director of United Domestic Workers of American/AFSCME Local 3930, said:
“It is so dangerous for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – and any other communities of color and marginalized communities – to engage with the Trump administration. With an administration full of right-wingers and White supremacists whose statements and track records already have proven to be toxic for the new American majority and the planet as a whole, we need to lean on each other, collaborate, and co-conspire in the dark times ahead. Millions marched this weekend, including APALA members across the country, and we are ready to continue resisting.”
“We need to come out in full force and resist this new administration, which has already promised to dismantle the rights of AAPI women and our communities,” said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Interim Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. “Now more than ever, we need to reaffirm our solidarity with all who are fighting for justice, whether that’s across the street or across the nation.”
Below please find the statement in full and the complete list of signatories.
As Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, We Will Resist
As AAPIs, our lives are rooted in the long arc of U.S. history, which was born out of racial violence and has been shaped by the struggles for freedom of oppressed peoples domestically and internationally. Some of our ancestors first arrived in what is now the United States as subjects of European empire over 400 years ago. Some of us are indigenous to this country as our ancestors’ lands were occupied and colonized by the United States as they sought to expand their global military and economic power. In the centuries since, AAPIs have faced indentured servitude, exclusionary immigration laws, bars to citizenship and land ownership, mass deportation, mass incarceration, war, sexual and gender-based violence, forced displacement, vigilante violence, surveillance, and racial and religious profiling.
Today our movements include Southeast Asian refugees organizing to end criminalization and deportation; Muslims, Arabs, Sikhs and South Asians fighting surveillance, profiling, war, and hate violence; women reclaiming their bodies against trafficking, domestic violence, exploitation, and criminalization; low-wage workers standing up against wage theft, poor working conditions, and abusive employers; Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders building a generation to fight against generational poverty caused by loss of sovereignty, militarization of lands and people, forced displacement, and criminalization; and trans, gender-non-conforming, and queer people putting their bodies on the line to demand a different, more humane world. We have always fought injustice, and we are resolute to continue doing so.
The majority of AAPI voters rejected Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Indeed, while Mr. Trump won the Electoral College – a problematic system with its own deep history rooted in slavery and racial inequities – he lost the popular vote. And with only 58% of eligible voters casting ballots in this election, the vast majority of American voters did not vote to elect Mr. Trump. He and his Administration have no mandate to govern.
For all of these reasons, we commit to the following principles and ask all AAPIs to join us:
- We will center and stand up for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members who are likely to face increased levels of hate violence, targeting, and policing. We will center and uplift the experiences and calls to action of undocumented immigrants, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, refugees, women, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community members. We will also support the organizing and resistance strategies of AAPI groups and our allies closest to the ground in local communities.
- We will defend all targets of bigotry, repression, and hate made by Mr. Trump’s Administration, or caused by the Trump Effect, with a broad principle of solidarity: “An attack on one is an attack on all.”
- We will refuse to legitimate or normalize Mr. Trump’s Administration, which has already violated the core principles of American democracy by using explicit appeals to racial and religious bigotry, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny to gain political power. We will reject ideas, statements, and policies that strengthen the incoming Administration’s legitimacy, including divide-and-conquer tactics or strategies that position AAPIs as a racial wedge against other communities of color.
- We will reject any attempts by the Trump Administration to use AAPIs to make a case for their legitimacy and diversity, and will not compromise our values and agency to gain a “seat at the table” in pursuit of narrow benefits. Nor will we conflate marginal visibility for genuine power and influence for our communities.
- We agree to be transparent about our engagement with the Trump Administration, and to be held accountable for our organizational strategies and decisions.
- We will raise awareness about how AAPI communities are affected by discriminatory and divisive rhetoric and policies, and will stand firm in opposing them.
- We will support those who assume personal and organizational risk to defend democratic institutions and practices including human, civil, and constitutional rights, against unjust laws and actions by the government, any group, or individual.
- We will seek unity in pursuit of shared goals, knowing that defending democracy will require various kinds of movements and tactics to weather the coming period of increased repression, and to build a more humane and sustainable world.
- We will work tirelessly toward an inclusive and democratic vision that ensures the safety, self-determination, and wellbeing of all people, and we will model this in our resistance and solidarity efforts.
Ed Diokno writes a blog :Views From The Edge: news and analysis from an Asian American perspective.