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Trustees of Asian American organization responds to calls to resign

(Editor’s Note: On May 21, AsAmNews ran an article quoting from an open letter accusing the trustees of Kundiman, an organization dedicated to uplifting Asian American writers and literature, of censoring positions supporting Palestine. The letter called for the trustees to resign. This is their response)

By Kundiman Trustees

We have heard clearly that members of our communities are experiencing unimaginable levels of pain and real harm due to geopolitical devastation and humanitarian crisis. We see that many are seeking collective healing from these harms. We continue to emphasize the power of writing to amplify efforts for justice and human rights. 

Kundiman’s mission is to nurture generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature. We are an organization of and for writers, and we will continue to support writers who vocalize their positions through their writing. 

The Kundiman Board of Trustees has continued to wrestle with ways that Kundiman, through its mission and capacity as a literary nonprofit, can rise to the challenge of supporting our communities. These include our Fellows, graduates from our annual retreat, and countless other individuals, organizations, and institutions who over the last 20 years have helped Kundiman become the sacred, beloved space that it is now.

We take our responsibility seriously as a governing authority to steward the organizational mission and vision. While we strive for a future where all people’s rights to self-determination and dignity are fully realized, we refrain from taking specific advocacy positions on behalf of the organization itself, despite what our personal feelings may be. We believe in the sharing and exchange of ideas, but not in conformity. Asian American literature encompasses a boundless multiplicity of identities, genres, and lineages. We need all those voices to speak in real time. Platforming those voices has been Kundiman’s purpose for the last 20 years, and will continue to be its purpose for the next 20. 

Over recent months in particular, even in our deepest desire to hold steady to Kundiman’s mission, we missed the opportunity to effectively center the voices of those closest to our work. We acknowledge that the lack of the Board of Trustees’ public communication in the past has generated new confusions and concerns,  and we thank those who have called us in, publicly and privately, with respect and deep shared love for Kundiman, to do better. 

Your input has allowed us to identify ways that our organization can and must grow — organizationally and programmatically — to fully achieve our mission. 

One avenue is the creation of Kundiman’s first, full-time leadership position wholly dedicated to the expansion of Kundiman’s work. Once hired, we will support the new Chief Executive with achieving our mission through new, creative, bold, and accessible programming and partnerships that are more responsive to and inclusive of marginalized communities. Our communities, both publicly and privately, have proposed ideas for making this possible, including through town halls, which we would wholly support under the Chief Executive’s operational leadership.

Other avenues we are building include the strengthening of internal governance and financial controls and the expansion and diversification of the Board of Trustees to achieve greater representation, transparency, and accountability. We fully recognize the value of a more inclusive process for Board nomination and participation, and we plan to pursue that. Kundiman has an opportunity to lead inclusive practices at both programmatic and governance levels.

Throughout this process, we are committed to acting in accordance with Kundiman’s values of generosity, inclusion, and courage — allowing for community members to build power and impact through their writing while holding space for a diversity of voices. We will do this while maintaining our fiscal and legal obligations as volunteer board members of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

These changes will help us, and we hope all of you, expand Kundiman’s ability to create more transformative spaces where Asian Americans can explore, through art, the unique challenges that face the new and ever changing diaspora. 

Unchanged is our belief in the power of our words to illuminate and reinvigorate how we can understand and practice mutual flourishing. We continue to stand steadfast behind Kundiman’s mission to nurture generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature.

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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