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Kundiman board called to resign


Asian American creative writing organization under pressure by its own community

By Jessica Xiao

On Monday, Kundiman fellows circulated an open letter calling for the resignation of Kundiman’s Board of Trustees. The letter has been viewed more than 86,000 times on X. 

Kundiman, a national nonprofit that supports Asian American creative writing through workshops, classes, and retreats, came under its own community’s scrutiny after the board replaced a staff social media post in solidarity with Palestine with “one that conflated Jewish lives with Israel while also erasing Gazans entirely” in October 2023. 

The letter states, “After seven months of internal discussions, ongoing delays, institutional harm, and a lack of commitment on behalf of the board in the midst of an active genocide, we are left with no choice but to call for the resignation of each member of the current Kundiman Board of Trustees: Ricco Siasoco, Wylie Chen, Katrina Venturina, Nina M. Chung, and Chia-Chee Chiu.”

The letter includes a timeline of ensuing events that details actions taken by the Board and leadership to restructure the organization including a new Chief Executive position which the letter authors view as “a retaliatory act to push out pro-Palestine staff for the board’s public mishandling of October’s events.” 

If board members do not resign and support the transition of an interim board that leads Kundiman to become a more “community-centered” organization, the organizers of the open letter plan to “escalate into a total boycott” and contact Kundiman’s funders. 

In the post of the open letter on Instagram by poet and Kundiman fellow Tariq Luthun, he writes in the caption, “We did not want to pursue this route, but it must be made clear that we were given no alternatives after being ignored by the board. If Kundiman fails to survive this moment, there is no one to blame but those who sent us down this path and those who choose to continue paving the way. But, we believe that conflict can be powerful and should be welcomed, as it often yields necessary healing and growth. Ultimately, we believe in our ability to generate something beautiful and transformative out of this conflict, and we hope the current board members recognize this as a moment for generative growth.”

The Asian American LitFest Collective, a cooperative formation composed of partners including the Asian American Literary Archive, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, The Georgia Review, Kaya Press, and others, organized a response to the Smithsonian’s last-minute cancellation of the Asian American LitFest in 2023, posted a statement of support with Kundiman’s staff and fellows: “…So we are especially concerned to hear of activities within our partner/peer organization that run counter to our Collective values of ethical stewardship, kinship, care, co-governance, and labor and disability justice. The Open Letter details unilateral decision-making, failures of transparency and accountability, bad faith communication, and refusals of mediation and harm remediation, misconduct, and toxic working conditions for staff….These actions by the board and co-founders are wholly antithetical to our shared commitments as a Collective as well as those we believe to be central to Kundiman’s life in the world.” 

At the time of publication, the letter has 140 signatures from Kundiman fellows, donors, community members, former staff and interns, and others.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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