We do not break, because we can bend: How we organize in the face of anti Asian, anti femme violence
In 2015, Purvi Patel, an Asian American woman was the first person in the US to be convicted under a feticide law for having an abortion. Her conviction was later overturned but not before she spent a year in jail. We find ourselves in a unique time as the violence against Asians, the war on American women and the anti trans movement have converged to an unprecedented peak. The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v Wade, has sounded the alarm and reminded us that our safety requires our action. Inspired by the work of artists in everything slackens in a wreck, this facilitated forum will feature leaders in the community sharing their unique perspectives on violence in these times. Together we talk about strategies forward and how to stand in solidarity.
Featuring representatives from:
- Ain’t I A Woman
- Asian American Feminist Collective
- Jahajee Sisters
- South Asian SOAR
- South Queens Women’s March
Moderated by Chi Nguyen and Rohan Zhou Lee.
This program, curated by Nancy Bulalacao originated as part of a series of anti Asian violence forums conceived and hosted by Ma-Yi Theater.
About the speakers
The Ain’t I A Woman?! Campaign is a national outreach and education effort led by women workers to demand that those benefiting the most from sweatshop labor are held accountable – whether we work in garment factories, home healthcare, or office. A century after Sojourner Truth’s struggles against racism and sexism, women workers are refusing to be treated like slaves or second-class citizens. The AIW Campaign is sponsored by Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association and National Mobilization Against SweatShops, and has provided leadership to women workers in the fight against sweatshop conditions and for control of our lives.
Asian American Feminist Collective (AAFC) is a grassroots racial and gender justice group based in New York City engaging in intersectional feminist politics grounded within our diasporic communities. We work to interrogate and dismantle systems of racism, imperialism, patriarchy, and capitalism and are deeply invested in abolition, queer liberation, cross-racial solidarity, and collective joy.
Together and with our partners, AAFC curates community events, tells our stories through various modes of feminist media, and provides spaces for identity exploration, political education, community building, and advocacy.
Jahajee Sisters was born out of the demand for sustained, culturally relevant programming to create a safe and equitable society for Indo-Caribbean women. Jahajee Sisters are committed to developing leaders who organize against gender-based oppression and create paths for self determination through Self-Awareness, Empowerment, and Community Organizing. Our constituency is a diverse group of intergenerational Indo-Caribbean women, ages 15-60, with ancestral roots in South Asia and born in the Caribbean and South American countries: Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname and Jamaica.
South Asian SOAR was founded in 2021 to break down silos and unify a national movement. Catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence, and the racial uprisings in 2020, SOAR was founded to address the urgent need for collaboration, unity, and innovation and to establish a national infrastructure to meaningfully advance change for South Asian survivors and communities. Together, community-based organizations and leaders asked: how can we work together to ensure the livelihoods of survivors, staff, and organizations?
In response, SOAR launched, establishing a collective, national movement for joy, healing, and justice in the South Asian diaspora. By mid-2021, SOAR had already grown from four organizations to a force of thirty organizations across America.
Inspired by global and national women’s rights movements, the South Queens Women’s March amplifies the voices of South Queens’ diverse women. We are an all-volunteer multi-generational, intersectional platform working to foster women’s empowerment through dismantling norms, practices, and institutions that support patriarchy and gender injustice. We are taking our sisterhood to the streets to unify women and gender non-conforming individuals in our community and connect them to the tools and resources necessary to empower their own lives and thrive. We want to create a world free of violence, injustice, and oppression; a world where all people are on equitable footing, in the home, the workplace, in houses of worship, and in our larger community spaces.
Womankind was founded in 1982 as the New York Asian Women’s Center, only 6 years after the first domestic violence shelter opened in New York City, to address the dearth of services available to Asian immigrant women suffering in domestic violence situations. Womankind established the first helpline, and lifeline, for Asian domestic violence survivors on the East Coast. In the 37 years since, the agency has grown to become a leader in providing multilingual and culturally-responsive services to help survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual violence rise above trauma and build a path to healing. Our dedicated team of 70 staff and 150 volunteers collectively speaks 18+ Asian languages and dialects.
Through our programs, we offer survivors access to a safe place to live, counseling, legal assistance, wellness activities, and much more. Whether in our services or in our increasing advocacy and policy work, Womankind first centers the survivor by uplifting them to control their own lives and narratives.
Chi Nguyễn (she/her/hers) is a practicing and teaching artist who uses weaving and community-based art projects to talk about racial justice, immigrants’ rights, reproductive justice, and economic justice. Previously, she was with The Bronx Defenders, the NYC Racial Justice Commission, the NYC Mayor’s Office, and the Center for Reproductive Rights. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Vogue, Washington Post, Salon, Ms. Magazine, Huffington Post, and Vice, among others.
Rohan Zhou-Lee, pronouns They/Siya/祂 (Tā) is a Queer/Non-Binary Black-Asian author, dancer, and organizer in New York City. Zhou-Lee is the founder of the Blasian March, an initiative to build solidarity between Black, Asian and Blasian communities through education and celebration. The Blasian March has coordinated rallies in New York City, New Haven and Los Angeles, with more set for Chicago (July 30) and Washington DC. They have been featured as an activist on AJ+, CNN, NBC Chicago, WNYC, Gothamist, Hella Pinay, USA Today, and other news outlets. Their writing on Black-Asian solidarity can be found on them magazine, Truthout, Mochi Magazine, Pigment International, Mixed Asian Media, Prism Reports, and Newsweek. Podcast interviews with siya can be heard at The Bánh Mì Chronicles, What Gives?, Militantly Mixed, Politically Asian, Unconscious Bias Project, and Sippin’ Tea With Dr. G. They have also presented at corporations, Dominican University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, UCLA Berkeley, University of Minnesota, the Midwest Mixed Conference 2021, and has served on multiple panels. Their essays have been incorporated into Asian American studies courses at California State University. Zhou-Lee holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Ethnomusicology from Northwestern University.