By Rhiannon Koh, AsAmNews Contributor
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, the Kellogg Foundation will be hosting its 6th annual National Day of Racial Healing.
This year’s event will focus on the socioeconomic and racial inequalities brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kickstarted in 2017, the National Day of Racial Healing always takes place the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Throughout the nation, events and workshops facilitate conversations around relationship-building, healing and solidarity, and transformative action.
AsAmNews spoke to Kent Wong, a spokesperson, and educator for the Kellogg Foundation.
“I’m working now [to create] an initiative around anti-Asian hate,” Wong said. “We will be having a series of racial healing workshops across the country to link the issue of anti-Asian hate with other racial justice issues. We think that in order to understand anti-Asian violence and hate, you have to understand the broader historical context.”
Wong cited Trump’s racist remarks condemning China, and in effect, the Asian American community for the outbreak of COVID-19. Such attitudes, he said, are reflections of the country’s legacy of xenophobia against immigrants of color.
The continuation of hateful rhetoric, Wong added, is also “directly related to the issue of voting rights and the suppression of the right to vote among workers of color. We think it’s directly related to issues of mass incarceration and racial injustice that impact other communities, so through these racial healing workshops that I will be working on in partnership with the UCLA Labor Center and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, we hope to really both educate and activate leaders of the Asian American community to address these concerns.”
Wong also serves as the director of the UCLA Labor Center and is the founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO. His expertise working with union organizing, labor movements, and immigrant and student workers has allowed him a deeper understanding of how racial solidarity is crucial to coalition building and enacting effective change.
Thirty years ago, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance’s work closely aligned with the goals of the Black trade unionists and the Labor Council on Latin American Advancement. When looking at the US labor movement specifically, the wide representation of workers of color helped diversify the leadership body within the traditionally, White-dominated American Federation of Labor, Wong explained.
Wong also urged communities of color to stick together. Multiracial unity, especially in the aftermath of the Trump administration and a longstanding history of anti-immigrant hysteria, is simply a consequence of a “deeply divided nation around racial and class lines.”
“There is a historic opportunity for the Asian Pacific Islander community to organize and to assume a role as a voice for progress and social change,” Wong explained. “We are the direct beneficiaries of the African American-led Civil Rights Movement that struck down racially restrictive barriers that led to the massive expansion of the Asian American community in the 1960s.
“The very existence of the Asian American community today is a direct consequence of the Black Freedom struggle led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is part of our history that many Asian Pacific Islanders do not know, and we need to reclaim that history, and we need to advocate or multiracial solidarity around an agenda for racial and economic justice,” Wong concluded.
To join the conversation, click this link here and add your voice by using #HowWeHeal.
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