APEX Express

APEX Express – 10.15.20 | Summer of Youth Organizing

A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.

[Image Description: A screenshot of a zoom meeting with six people smiling at the camera. the top of the graphic reads “AACRE THURSDAY PRESENTS SUMMER OF YOUTH Organizing. bottom of graphic reads APEX EXPRESS, THURS @7PM KPFA 94.1FM]

Host Tracy Nguyen joins our Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE) colleagues to talk about a Summer of Youth Organizing. Guests include: Cassie Persaud (APIENC), Ranjana Thapa (ARU), Leo Hedge (ASATA/ PARIVAR), Chali Lee (HIP), and Asia Lee (HIP). While the pandemic year posed many challenges to staying connected, these youth leaders persevered and attending various leadership development programs all online! Listen to what they learned.

More information about what was discussed on the show:


[00:00:00] Tracy: Good evening. You’re tuned into APEX on KPFA, bringing you an Asian and an Asian American view from the Bay and around the world.

[00:00:08] This is Tracy Nguyen. Tonight, we’re talking with youth leaders of the AACRE network, AACRE stands for Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality. It’s been six months of a pandemic. Tonight we’re going to talk to them about growing the movement while we are sheltered in place and developing our leaders at a very  unique time.


[00:00:32] And welcome to APEX Express. Tonight is AACRE for Thursday. AACRE is a network of 11 Asian American activist groups fighting for social justice and equality. Tonight, we’re talking to four young activists who have just completed various summer trainings, organizing schools, fellowships, and institutes from across our AACRE network.

[00:00:53] We have Leo who completed a youth activist training called the Bay area solidarity summer, hosted by Asata which stands for Alliance of South Asians Taking Action.

[00:01:07] Tracy: We have Ranjana who finished camp, which is a weekend leadership camp for emerging Bhutanese refugees leaders with Asian refugees United. Fun fact, camp was actually inspired by BASS. We have Charlie and Asia who completed an organizing Institute with HIP in Fresno and Sacramento. Hip stands for Hmong Innovating Politics.

[00:01:32] Tracy: And finally Casi who’s graduated from APIENC’s eight week summer organizing program. All right. Hi everyone. Thank you all for joining us on APEX Express. I’m super stoked to have you on the show tonight.  I’m also a product of many, many leadership programs, myself starting at the age of 18 and fun fact, I’m an alumni of APIENC’s summer program 

[00:02:00] as well. And I’m super thankful for people and activists who’ve invested their time in me in helping me build my own political awareness and organizing skills and activist chops. So just to start us off, I’m actually meeting a lot of you for the first time on this call tonight.

[00:02:21] so let’s do a go around and, to share where y’all are calling from because, you know, I know a lot of you were able to participate virtually from where you were, across the country. So where you’re from, what you’re spending your time doing currently, whether you’re in school or working and just what sparked your activist journey around social justice. 

[00:02:47] Ranjana: Hi everyone. My name is Ranjana. I’m currently a student at the Ohio State University. This is my fourth year. I’m getting – I’m majoring in finance. And, basically my inspiration for joining a youth activity, being a youth activist is the struggle that I’ve seen my people in my community go through and include like me and my family being one of them.

[00:03:10] It’s just been difficult to come to the United States as an immigrant and be able to settle down. So I’ve seen – my struggle. I’ve experienced the struggle sizes, want it to be able to help out other people in my community. So, yeah, that’s awesome. Calling all the way from Ohio. Thank you for joining us tonight.

[00:03:33] You’re welcome.

[00:03:37] Leo: Hey, this is Leo. I am calling in from Oakland, in the Bay area. And, yeah, really excited to be on the show tonight. So a little bit, yeah, about my background in organizing. I did the – I was involved with the BASS, the Bay Area Solidarity Summer with Asata, but, I’ve actually been doing a lot of work recently with APIENC and PARIVAR as well.

[00:04:02] Organizing South Asian and API trans and queer community. And part of the reason that I wanted to get into that is, you know, growing up, I was around a lot of South Asian community, but I didn’t often see, you know, trans and queer role models or really, I didn’t have any community there. And, it was definitely really isolating.

[00:04:25] And I think I experienced that a lot in school, when I went to college as well and to the Bay about, about a year ago today. And I was really happy to find this really extensive network and, you know, community of trans and queer API folks. And I’ve just been really excited to connect and yeah. And build with them. So just, you know, continuing my journey from there. 

[00:04:49] Tracy: That’s beautiful. Leo, where did you say you grew up? 

[00:04:53] Leo: I grew up in New Jersey, New Jersey. 

[00:04:57] Tracy: and Ranjana, I – I wanted just to get a picture where everyone’s from. Where did you say you’re an immigrant? What country did you immigrate from? Oh, I was born in Nepal, so I can’t.

[00:05:09] Wow. Cool. So, so far already a lot of journeys to get here

[00:05:14]Asia: Hello everyone. My name is Angel and Lee. I also go by Asia. I grew up in the Central Valley as a second generation, Hmong American. I’m currently entering my fourth year as a political science student at Sac state. And I am working with the Full Circle Project at Sac state, which is a center on campus to make, to routine, API students.

[00:05:35]and also what inspired my activism. I’m in API spaces specifically with we’ve had, the desire to learn and research and really advocate for social justice issues throughout high school. But because I was primarily in political spaces, my family never really mentioned politics or anything of that sort.

[00:05:53]I never really saw it as an opportunity to, to have a career in it or anything afterwards and so, until I finally came to Sacramento, California, where I’m also a student at, I was able to really experience it and realize that getting involved in activism doesn’t have to necessarily just be primarily government or campaigns and stuff.

[00:06:11] Although I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to do so as well. And yeah, that’s what I’m just the fact that like, you know, we’re supremely underrepresented, especially in stats and stuff like that. Makes me all the more determined to keep, pushing for representation and advocacy.

[00:06:29] Tracy: Amazing. So where in central Valley did you grow up?

[00:06:36] and you made your way to Sacramento? Yes. Awesome. wonderful to have you, how about you Cassie? 

[00:06:44] Cassie: Hey everyone. So my name is Cassie. I use they/them pronouns. I’m calling in today from Indiana where I attend school. So I’m from New York – Queens, New York, and that’s where I was born and raised. And yeah, so a lot of my activism

[00:06:58] it started when I was like 15 or 16. I joined this grassroots organizing collective call DCS, rising up and moving, also known as DRUM, which like surrounded like South Asian and Indo-Carribean, like working class folks. And I think, yeah, that space was really important for me because it really like activated me.

[00:07:19] It helped me come to terms with like my own politics and also like, show, like, for me, like, while like, I have the power to resist and fight in systems. And then I found out about APEINC, through the network – amazing network, that I’ve been a part of. And yeah, it was really important for me to also be in a space where like, all aspects of me were recognized, like being Indo-Carribean, but also like my queerness and my transness and all that. So yeah. 

[00:07:48] Tracy: Did you say you were involved in DRUM? Yeah. Oh, right on. Okay. So I already have a full circle story. Leo, I don’t know if you remember, but I was in one of your breakout sessions for one of APIENC’s community safety workshops and DRUM was one of our case studies. Is that right? Leo?

[00:08:05] Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. Oh yeah. I met Kathy and Leo in passing this summer, but it’s all connected. And finally, Charlie. 

[00:08:16] Chali: Hello, my name is Chali Lee. I use the pronouns he, him and his. I’m 18 years old, born and raised in Fresno, California. And I am currently a first year student at Clovis Community College, majoring in political science.

[00:08:33] so for my journey, I mostly got into activism, because I have a unique intersectionality of being Hmong and queer. And so, I was really, I was really looking for, or a place to foster my own voice and to be able to, learn how to use my voice, to create the change that I hope to see in my lifetime, as well as to help future generations of queer folk.

[00:08:57] I am also a part of, or, I also advocate a lot for education justice, especially being Southeast Asian. I am fortunate enough to have parents who are educated, both graduated from college. And so I’m able to reap the benefits of the education system, but I know that’s not the case with a lot of other Southeast Asian folks.

[00:09:16] So, I, I strongly advocate for education justice, such as ethnic studies and, making sure that. our students have the resources they need in order to succeed. I am a youth leader with innovating politics and their youth group, and I also participated in, and the youth organizing Institute hosted by HIP.

[00:09:38] Tracy: Wow. Very, very cool. I’m an ethics studies major myself. And so you’re, it’s incredible. You’re 18 and advocating for Ethnic studies. I met like a 16 year old also who’s getting involved with us and, you know, she’s like, I’m studying black feminism in my community college and I’m like, what? Like, it’s just, it’s just really incredible to hear.

[00:10:02] What youth are doing nowadays in their exposure to such a diverse amount of curriculum and education. And, yeah, I guess I just, as way for our viewers or our listeners to understand, our speakers today, is it okay if I ask what everyone’s ages? If you’re comfortable, I’m just curious.

[00:10:22] Yeah, go ahead and say your name and your age. If you’re open to sharing. Ron Gianna I’m 21. Yup. This is Leo. I forgot to mention earlier. I use he and they pronouns, and I’m 23

[00:10:46] I’m Asia with she and her pronouns and I’m 21. I’m Cassie I use them and I’m 21. Amazing. So we have young people, from the team to their twenties. I’m really excited about this. Cause as you all know, it’s been a heck of a year. I’m in California, in North, Northern California right now. So we are facing

[00:11:15] wildfires, it’s like endless amount of smoke and our forest is burning up and, you know, it’s hard to stay hopeful. It’s hard to, you know, stay grounded in the work. And, I’m finding myself and a lot of my colleagues and my peers, like, you know, the, the youth are so inspiring and, I don’t know if you get that a lot, but it’s just really inspiring.

[00:11:38] It just comes off and your energy comes off in like, you know, the work that you’re focused on, it comes off in just like your wisdom and brilliance that comes out and manifests on the streets and our movement spaces. So I’m when I say I’m excited, it’s just like, it’s just, it’s really, it’s really, a breath of fresh air, you know?

[00:11:57] So my question for you next is, a lot of you did your programs virtually. I guess I’m curious, what, what was that like, first of all, a lot of you did organizing schools that were a weekend long. Some of you all did a summer long program, which was, weeks on weeks on end. Some of y’all did you know, camps for weekend, just, yeah. What was your – what was everyone’s experience like? 

[00:12:23] Ranjana: You know, I forgot to mention earlier, but over the summer I did – this is Ranjana by the way, I worked with Asian Refugee United, from the Bay area. And basically we did, this is an annual, camped in the camp. They do annually three days, three days, yeah, three day over three days.

[00:12:44] And it’s usually done in person. This year was my first attending. I’ve been wanting to attend this camp for like three years now. And there was never like a right time. Right. So this year I was able to end, the sad thing was it had to happen over zoom, but honestly it like really exceeded my expectations because I thought something’s going to go wrong because there were so many people attending, so many youths attending.

[00:13:08] And besides that, I was so inspired. Throughout this entire camp to see the more youth, my age, like me caring about my community as much as I do. And it was just so inspiring to see and like to hear everyone talk about their personal experience and what they do outside of school, you know? Cause, basically as a minority

[00:13:31] I’ve always focused in school before I was an activist in my community. The school was my first priority. I was telling my parents brought me here. They want to see me succeed. Like they want to see me being successful. So I’m going to go to college and I’m going to do my best. But like there’s more to it.

[00:13:50] Our community then goes to school. There are so many people caring about. Like talking about what’s wrong being so vocalize about things that are wrong in our community. So yeah, it was very inspiring to me just to be part of this camp. So I really want to thank, thank the host, Robin for giving me the opportunity. So, yeah. 

[00:14:12] Tracy: Yeah. That’s wonderful. Ranjana. Now, how did you hear about camp through Asian refugees United? 

[00:14:19] Ranjana: Oh, my, my friend, actually, I used to live in Bay Area too before I moved here for college. And I have many friends back there. So she, one of them actually participated last year too. And she told me to be part of it for like, she had told me before this too, but I never, like, I don’t know.

[00:14:37] I didn’t pay attention at first, but then last year she, she told me about her experience and I was like, okay, let me try it. And I couldn’t be there last year. So this year she, again encouraged me to be part of it. And also I was representing my organization from OSU too. I am a, I am a Treasure – I’m the Treasurer of BASO which is, which stands for Bhutanese American Student Organization at the Ohio State University. So I was part of the representing BASO, but yeah, that’s my friends told me and it was really an amazing experience and I hope I get to do it every year. 

[00:15:12] Tracy: Wow. That’s really good. Cool. I don’t know if you’d know this, but Robin who runs Asian refugees United, he was a participant of BASS and I’m going to have Leo talk about BASS after this. BASS is a Bay area solidarity summer with the South Asian young activists.

[00:15:29] And Robyn saw that in the BASS is a wonderful program, but, You know, Robin is a refugee from Bhutan and the South Asian experience – experiences were weren’t quite lifting up the specific experience of Bhutanese refugees. And so he was inspired by BASS to create camp, which is also an activist training, but specifically for Bhutanese and Nepali immigrants and refugees. And so, yeah, that, that’s a story of camp and it’s really great to hear how folks are connecting with that. 

[00:16:03] Ranjana: Yeah. And I’m just really thankful. Thank you. 

[00:16:07] Tracy: Yeah. And so Leo, I referenced phase a couple of times. Can you share more about your experience with BASS this summer? 

[00:16:13] Leo: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think that, you know, I was also quite surprised about, how great, you know, a virtual, virtual camp was. So BASS was, you know, this five day camp. And we – it was full day. We had, you know, sessions in the morning and afternoon and even, kind of more casual sessions in the evening, all over zoom. And yeah, I was just surprised by how it was to like show up in that space and have these more, you know, learning oriented sessions and then, sessions that were a lot about fostering connection and community.

[00:16:51] So we had, you know, some communities mixtures where a lot of different folks came in. I think I’m the person you mentioned who started camp also came in to talk to ’em. Participants. And, it was a great opportunity to just like connect with folks who are organizing and have, you know, built a lot of different, really great things in the community. And yeah, you know, it was also just great to connect with other participants that way. I think like, you know, I want to acknowledge Tracy what you said about how this has been a really difficult year and especially right now, you know, it’s, it’s crazy in the Bay to look out of your window and see like the sky is orange, right.

[00:17:31] It’s very disorienting. But, I think, and like this, you know, BASS was a great way to really feel grounded and feel connected to people and feel connected to people who have, have similar values for working towards the same kind of things. Yeah, it was just a really, really great opportunity. 

[00:17:51] Tracy: Yeah, it’s so important for us to stay connected. Like a lot of our communities, we’re already relying on community spaces to build power. And so, once we had to shelter in place, you know, that connection was all the more vital and, Cassie, I’m curious, you know, you probably spent the most time online, your summer program with APIENC, the LGBT youth program, sorry, specifically summer organizing program.

[00:18:17] What was that like for you to spend weeks on end on zoom with your peers?   

[00:18:23] Cassie: Thanks for asking. Tracy, I think, you know, it was really good. I mean, at first, like, acknowledging like even what soon fatigue or just screening fatigue is, but also like, how important it was also how the space, because we’re in shelter in place. And it’s specifically, I feel like even as like a queer person with that means, but I think would being a part of APIENC in their summer organizer program, there was like so much intentionality. And making time to build relationships, whether it was like, a mixer when we’re like playing games or having a fun day, like all of these things being a part about a part of like the sustainability of movement work was really, important lesson that I learned.

[00:19:06] So yeah, it was really great to build, you know, relationships with people. Through whether it was like working with them, but like also having fun with them. And which made, like being on the computer, like all day, like more like, you know, fun and, like helpful. So yeah. 

[00:19:25] Tracy: Awesome. Yeah. It’s pretty impressive how creative our communities can get when we’re doing the virtual thing. I’ve been to a couple of APIENC events. That’s where I met Leo too. And, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s amazing to see, like, especially queer folks, you know, queer and trans folks on the front lines of organizing these events, like how inclusive, welcoming, and warm it is too. In order for us to stay connected and feel connected. We’re going to take a quick music break. we’re going to listen to Yuri Kochiyama by blue scholars.


[00:20:03] All right. Welcome back. You’re tuned into APEX Express on 94.1 KPFA and 89.3 K PFB in Berkeley 88.1. KFCF in Fresno and K24ABR in Santa Cruz and always [email protected]. You just listened to Yuri Kochiyama by Blue Scholars. And as Yuri always said, you know, what should Asian-Americans be doing today?Fighting against racism, injustices, and inequities. Transform yourself first. Keep expanding your horizons, decolonize your mind, and cross borders. So we’re talking tonight too. Graduates and youth participants of amazing summer programs that focus on leadership development within the Asian American community.

[00:20:55] and we’re talking about what it’s like to build. Within movement spaces virtually. I wanna talk to Chali next. And Chali is part of Hmong Innovating Politics, and doing a lot of the work, with folks in the Central Valley. Yeah, I know you all have been doing incredible phone banking during this election season and staying super connected online too. What has the virtual experience been like at HIP?

[00:21:26] Chali: So hello, I’m Chali again. And the virtual experience at HIP, especially at the youth organizing Institute, that happened the last week of July for four days. It honestly was exhausting, but it did blow me out of the water from what I was expecting, they really made sure to take care of all the participants, even bringing us food.

[00:21:49] Care packages for us to snack on, throughout our four days together. and I was honestly very bummed out that it was going to be virtual, but, if this organizing Institute taught me one thing, it was that community and passion has no bounds whatsoever. For me, I think in that space, I was actually one of the more experienced members, or participants because I’ve been doing this work for three years.

[00:22:17] And even though I’m only 18, there were participants that were, 14, 15, barely starting high school. And it was great to see how engaging and passionate these youth were. I could really see how contagious this work is to stay and to keep inspiring the youth. and so like we spoke a lot about particular issues, such as education, justice, racism, how to be a better LGBTQ plus ally and many more topics.

[00:22:45] And I was really blown away about how knowledgeable our youth were. It was also a great place to network and to work with other youth who are passionate about the same things that I’m in. And it was overall a great experience. And, those virtual, I think the learning of the experience, was still unlike any other.

[00:23:09] Wow. You know, it’s still hard for me to comprehend how people are fully engaging virtually. I mean, I’m, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m working virtually myself organizing, but a lot of you all are still in school, too. In college, I assume. And you know, I’m not a parent, so I don’t, I don’t have any, I don’t, I’m not exposed to any kids who are doing virtual learning.

[00:23:33] I’m curious, like what on top of all this, what is the verb? What is virtual learning? Like what is our education? What’s happening to our education scene, during this time of a very, unprecedented year. Asia. Do you have insights on how that’s going for you? 

[00:23:54] Asia: Yes. Hello everyone. It’s Asia. yeah, I think, I actually ended up taking more units this semester than I expected to. So I am doing model UN, I’m taking my last two main courses, public policy and, I believe like political theory. And so it’s – we’re on top of everything else for Asian politics as well. So it’s very interesting just to see already, first and foremost, it’s already, of course, like, you know, just socioeconomic disparities, right?

[00:24:20] Like students who have to drop out, who have decided to take breaks and stuff like that. It’s very worrisome and I’m very honored and grateful for what I have to be able to continue my education during this time. I know there was a couple like, you know, just news reports about like, well, maybe not enough about like children in elementary schools who just automatically couldn’t be even found or like, you know, contacts did after the pandemic.

[00:24:43]that’s something I try to just balance and yeah, in terms of like, you know, being grateful and also trying to think and be very helpful when it comes to classes. I know professors for sure are struggling and their own capacities as well to adjust to the online platform. But, I think it’s honestly, a lot of it is very being intentional with your breaks.

[00:25:03] Everything’s online now. I’m very fortunate to be able to stay home and work as well, from home. So it – but it’s still, it does come with a cost of just constantly staring at the screen. I have really bad eye strain and I was able to get like blue light filter glasses. And even then it’s, really making sure you pace yourself and, the understanding that we’re also learning in a pandemic,

[00:25:24] I think there’s a lot of conversations about that, but, you know, requiring students to have their videos on and stuff like that. And I’m happy to say that my university has not required it as they should, because I don’t think that people should lose out on their education just because they don’t have access to, you know, fast internet technology.

[00:25:42] And, you know, people literally had to take care of their families. Work, you know, make a living. And so that’s something I always try to keep in mind and try to spread, you know, be aware in itself because, if it’s not spoken, it will go under the radar. Yeah. 

[00:25:57] Tracy: That’s so real the digital device and how many people are being pushed out of the institutions now because of inaccess to, the digital tools, the resources to continue their education. That’s really fascinating. Well, I’m also curious. So I’m, I’m curious for this for all you, all of you, like what we’re talking about, your experience with the summer programs and your political education and activist journey, what, what was your takeaway or like your, your reflection from the summer and how – what are you focused on now?

[00:26:31] what do you focus on now? What is like, what is, what is, what is your North star? You know, is it just finished school? Are you, have you like, has your summer with these organizations inspired a certain path for you? You know, I don’t want to just ask like, Oh, what do you want to do after college? That’s that’s not the question, right? It’s like, what is, what are you, what are you, what are you working towards right now?

[00:26:59] Ranjana: My goal after the camp has been to register as many voters as possible for the 2020 election. Because I have noticed like in my community there are many, many nice American citizens, they’re not registered to vote and our topic, I can’t point to any this year was to avoid voting and how that will affect our next four years of our lives.

[00:27:24] So yeah, I’m working on that. I’m actually every day I’m calling people in our community and  asking them to register to vote. And if they can’t, if like, obviously they’re the oldest and reaching out to me is not, they’re not educated enough to actually even write their names. So my job is to go house to house.

[00:27:45] Some sometimes obviously masked, we’re in masks protected. And fill out the registration form and submit it. So, yeah, that’s my goal. And honestly, the capturing 20 has really opened my eyes to be more involved in my community than I was before. Basically the end being I’ll also know the main topic was the generation gap between our parents and us.

[00:28:07] And how do we end that? Like, how do we progress towards educating our elders on such issues like gender inequality,  domestic violence, toxic masculinity in our community. And it just like, I get, I think the camp really gave us a platform to talk about these issues that we don’t talk about every day to our friends, to our families.

[00:28:30] I think this is really eye opening for me as somebody that I like grew up in such a minority community, like nobody ever talks to me about these things. You know, it’s not something that I grew up listening about. Like not these problems never existed. To me, like, to be seen as such a big deal because obviously my family never talked to me about it.

[00:28:49] It never happened to me. And I’m very thankful, but also made me realize there are people like me that go through these problems every day. And as somebody that is activists or like leader in my community, it’s my job to be. Therefore those people help those in need. yeah. So basically this was an amazing experience and I, again, we’d like to thank everybody that organized the camp 2020, yeah.

[00:29:16] Wow, that that’s really awesome. So camp inspired you to be involved in your elections and your campaign in Ohio. And if I’m from CRA, is Ohio a swing state? I know. No. Is it a – I don’t think so. Is it a blue state or a red state? It’s a, it’s a red state. Oh, it’s a red state. Okay. So I’ll hold them more valuable.

[00:29:44] All the more value you are, efforts in the campaign. That’s incredible. Thank you so much for doing that. And I know like, a lot of the Bhutanese community in California had also been pushed out during the pandemic to States like Ohio. So what you’re doing is going to make an incredible difference and thank you for doing that work. And, that’s a great story. Thank you. 

[00:30:12] Chali: Was it Chali? Who wants to go next? Yes, I could go. So hello. It’s Chali again. So for my short term, North star, I guess, would just be this, general election coming up, as somebody who advocates for proper allocation of resources and funding, I’m – I’m advocating for schools and communities first, which is proposition 15.

[00:30:39]I was also very fortunate to have the chance to educate the participants about a little bit more about it and the project that I am doing, which will be to collect youth stories about their education journey and what resources they wish they had access to. And their K through 12 education.

[00:30:58] Because even though our youth aren’t eligible to vote or people under 18 aren’t eligible to vote such as many of our students. I still want their voice to be included in this general election. And so, that’s a project that I’m doing, but in terms of like a long term North star that I wasn’t really expecting, was – revolves around culture and, and understanding my own culture and how to, and how to, make it more understandable for myself and for younger generations?

[00:31:32] Not necessarily Americanizing it, but making it in a way that it’s easier to comprehend and to take in. For example, we had, we learned about Bondo, which is a Hmong textile sewing and embroidery technique. And so we learned a lot about that and the significance and importance behind it and how it’s found in our clothing. And also many pieces of, of things that we own. And so I think that’s something that I’m taking away from the youth organizing Institute. 

[00:32:01] Tracy: Oh, that’s beautiful. Yeah. Hmong textiles are so amazing and pretty. And you know, honestly, cultural preservation is a weapon right now for us to reclaim that that goes a long ways in our sustainability in the work. And so I’m really glad to hear that you were inspired to incorporate that more in your life. What about you Asia? 

[00:32:26] Asia: Yeah. So wait, I’ve been really fortunate to gain like a lot of understanding and experience in terms of digital organizing from the summer to the fall. and, and through that, I think I realized a lot of it is just, helping or guiding our communities by informing them or primarily providing resources to, for them to utilize, to learn on their own pretty much guiding them.

[00:32:47] And they are also getting involved. My North star, I guess, in this case would be getting involved in public policy, whether it be, I’m not exactly too sure yet, but for sure, I’m looking more towards like a master’s program in that aspect. But yeah, but, but my ultimate end goal with it that I focus on a lot is making politics and just talking about it, accessible, making people not scared about it.

[00:33:06] I’m making people, encouraging people to feel comfortable and that you don’t need to have a bunch of experience to, to qualify, to talk about these topics, that their opinion matters as well. And it’s about making an informed opinion, right. And making sure that we’re not being misinformed. I think that’s a huge one and really having conversations around it because that’s primarily what started my own journey is that just having conversations like, you know, our family institutions really dictate, you know what, you know, what route you take?

[00:33:33]I was never encouraged to really, really lead, especially in an outspokenly about policy six or anything with that story, as a Hmong woman. So I think that just having simple conversations and support really helps and it’s actually motivated me to create a club on campus at Sac State for diverse women and political science.

[00:33:51] To assure that women do. And those who identify as women who do have a space to feel comfortable to talk, because even the classrooms can be very political at times, or it’s primarily white men who are the ones who dominate the class. And so it’s really bringing attention to that. And calling in people, I think that’s the ultimate thing.

[00:34:11] Tracy: Yeah, there’s an incredible amount of Hmong woman coming up in the political policy world. So I am excited that you’ll be joining their reigns. Cause yeah, it’s much needed. We need people in every corner. And what about you, Leo? Yeah. Hey, this is Leo again. yeah, I think, I came out of, BASS and, I was actually a part of Lex with Cassie as well.

[00:34:41]Leo: you know, coming in, I came out of both of those programs, you know, feeling really empowered with the political education, like, like focus. It’s mentioned and, yeah, connections. And I think that feeling really stuck with me and has. You know, inspired me to step up into a place of leadership, which, you know, I might not have felt very comfortable with before and, yeah, a place of leadership where I feel good about, you know, holding the community in different ways.

[00:35:07] so recently that’s looked like, being a part of, part of our advisory committee and there’s been a really awesome, focused on bringing the community together too, you know, share art and celebrate during this time I am. But, yeah. You know, also to acknowledge the hardships that our community’s facing right now, you know, with COVID.

[00:35:26]so it’s been cool. Really getting involved with COVID relief efforts, and fundraising to just provide resources for, folks in the community that have been really impacted by this pandemic. yeah. And, and I think that’s been really exciting for me to have that impact in the Bay, but also I guess, internationally as well and have that impact in, in my community.

[00:35:52] Tracy: Yeah, I see you. Thank you for sharing. And with that, we’re going to take another quick music break. We’re going to listen to Ruby Ibarra. 


[00:36:07] You just listened to Ruby Ibarra and Ruby Abara is a Philippina rapper, has spoken word artists from the Bay area of California. And I just want to shout out to Ruby whose day job is actually at a biotech company working on COVID test kits and vaccination. And, you know, during this pandemic, she’s used her platform as an artist to speak out on all the injustices that we’ve been seeing, including amplifying the black lives matter movement. So we’re, we’re a big fan of Ruby. Thanks Ruby.  

[00:36:41] you know, time moves, time goes by so fast. Our show is gonna wrap up in a – in another, a couple of minutes, but, another question I want to ask you all, you know, like what, I don’t know if this is a hard question nowadays, but what, what’s giving you hope? You know, I think folks younger and younger are experiencing or are being born into his world.

[00:37:11] That’s chaotic and yeah, I imagine how you’re experiencing it is much different from, you know, other generations before you and even myself so, and yeah, just, you all are in your twenties and you’re 18. and I see that a lot of young folks can articulate what’s happening a lot more astute than I can, but my question is what is giving you hope?

[00:37:42] Like what are you witnessing, are participating in, or experiencing yourself that makes you believe that, you know, once we get through this, that the world can be a better place because frankly, sometimes it feels like, like, doom’s day, like two days ago, everyone was talking about these apocalyptic skies and that’s what it, that’s what it feels like mentally, physically, emotionally. What gives you hope?

[00:38:10] Chali: Hi, this is Chali. I think something that gives me hope is, is how social media is changing in a sense or how it has changed since, since the George, George Floyd accident and, and all of like these horrific things that are going on in our world right now. I think I really appreciate people.

[00:38:30] taking the time to educate themselves and share posts, to educate others about the realities of our world. And also how much more support artists are getting out there. And, and, sharing other people’s stories. And so right now, I think storytelling and social media and, and how, and how, I guess a lot more people are not turning a blind eye to this, to these important topics anymore as something that is giving me hope, we are in a very dark time, but, people are taking the time to educate themselves. And so I think that’s something that I really appreciate. 

[00:39:08] Tracy: Yeah. You know, I, I did know, I do notice a lot of younger folks when I ask them about their – when the moment they got politicized, a lot of them have said Tumblr, you know, or Instagram. So it’s really incredible the power of our social media, to, to inform people and help people see the truth of what, you know, atrocities a lot of our marginalized communities face. Thank you for sharing that. 

[00:39:35] Cassie: Yeah. I could go. So I’m Cassie, they/them pronouns. So I think for me, I would say like community has been like giving me like hope or fueling me, you know, being a part of like Lex, with Leo and being a part of the summer organizer program and being a part of the transformative justice, study group, like all of that for me is like, how much I’ve learned from community and how much community has been a part of like my own survival.

[00:40:04] and yeah. You know, interdependence to like, and asking for help. As something that’s been giving me hope, cause it, you know, our communities have been supporting each other outside of the state, like the state doesn’t do anything for us. So like, yeah, it’s been really important for me. in terms of like also like. Well, us mobilizing each other and, yeah, supporting each other through this work. So yeah, I think community would be for me. 

[00:40:29] Tracy: And Cassie you mentioned Lex, I don’t think we’ve shared what Lex is yet. Can you extrapolate on what that is? 

[00:40:36] Cassie: Yeah. So LEX stands for Leadership Exchange Program. So, yeah, it was a part of my time as a, some organizer, but it was its own leadership development program with other queer and trans API folks where we came together and we talked about, you know, different things that’s going on in the world. Talking about politics. Like it was like political education. But also like a lot of like community healing, like, and what does it mean to do all this work and also be in this work for the long term? So we talked about also like relationship building. What does accountability look like? Conflict resolutions. Yeah, we touched on like many different things, but it was basically a lot of like building up our power. as well. 

[00:41:21] Tracy: So you did a leadership program on top of a leadership program within the leadership program? Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Sounds a jam packed full of community. Anyone else want to go? What gives you hope? 

[00:41:41] Asia: Yeah. yeah. I’m Asia. I, I think a lot of it – what keeps me going is pretty much, you know, the people who have come before me and the people who will continue it. I think when I think of the people who can move for me, it’s like, you know, the organizations established who are creating these opportunities and platforms for the youth to have an easier way to get more familiar with the community and, you know, the systems in place.

[00:42:06] And on top of that, I think I’ve seen a lot of it manifest. And like my family, I think it’s been really cool. Cool to see how my sister has become more politicized because of what I just do, even though it’s not, you know, even though I’m not really directly telling her it, she hears it and she she’s, you know, it’s guiding her to think for herself and really, you know, really manifests your own belief as well.

[00:42:30] And so I think I’ve, I’ve heard a great quote and I can remember I got it from, but it just, you know, if trauma can be passed down throughout generations, so can healing. And I think that’s something that we’re learning a lot and we’re seeing firsthand. And so I really value that as well because now there’s so many resources, I guess, as a silver lining for the pandemic is that there are more

[00:42:48] resources and webinars to learn about what it means to be anti-racist and all that good stuff. And so I think it’s really, truly, feeling united with my cohort too. Because now we’re more aware and we are more, we empower one another. I think there’s so many times where I’m happy to say that, you know, another woman in class has, you know, spoke up for me like, Oh, you know, Asia said this and you know, in the chat or something like that. And even those things, whether even though they’re small, they matter. So, yeah. 

[00:43:20] Tracy: Amazing how about you Leo? 

[00:43:26] Leo: Yeah. You know, I’ve just been nothing popped into my mind right away, which is, you know, not the best feeling, but, I think listening to other folks, you know, I’m kinda realizing that, you know, I think, I think there’s this idea that. I have that, like nothing’s ever going to be the same as it was before. Right. And like, we’re going through all these hardships or communities are going through all these hardships. Sometimes things feel a little like doomsday and the Bay, at least right now. But I think there’s some like silver lining there in like, you know, things are not going to be the same, but you know, maybe they can be better.

[00:44:04] Maybe, you know, things are changing. We’re learning, we’re learning from what we’re going through. And, we can come out of some of these things, with, you know, with, with a better world. At least that’s what I’m hoping right now.

[00:44:21] Tracy: Yeah, I’m holding onto hope that, you know, so much of the visions people who’ve come before me and people in my generation so much, so much of our visions are actually coming into manifestation and it is sometimes it’s hard to acknowledge that or see that our visions have arrived because at the same time we’re still faced with, you know, a terrorizing government, climate change, pandemic.

[00:44:52]there, there’s an interesting duality where that is all happening. And at the same time, people are practicing interdependence. They are practicing mutual aid, you know, are like more than ever is being valued in our work, in our movement. And so in a lot of ways, the vision has arrived and it’s not, certainly not the ideal conditions completely.

[00:45:20] But the seeds that have been planted are growing. And sometimes I see that in you all, like, you know, people envisioned a pipeline for youth to become leaders and hearing some of your dreams and your North stars are really exciting because there’s, there’s work to be done. And, yeah, we’re here alongside you all to do together.

[00:45:43]Thank you all so much. Our time is up together and I hope listeners are inspired by this episode. The conversations with these young folks is incredibly helpful for me and, listeners, you can learn more about aacre Asian-Americans for Civil Rights and Equality and all the organizations we talked about through our APEX Express, Facebook, Instagram, and on kpfa.org.

[00:46:09] We’ll return every fourth Thursday. Thank you, Leo. Thank you Cassie. Thank you, Chali. Thank you, Asia. And thank you Ranjana for joining us. I know some of you started school, so this was a tight squeeze in your schedule. So we really appreciate the time with you all tonight. Yeah. Thank you, Tracy, for having us.

[00:46:31]As for our community calendar, on Saturday, September 19th, from five to 8:00 PM. Pacific time. APIENC is holding an online climate justice storytelling event hosted by their ecological justice league. So this event is super cool. It’s a writing and haiku party to, uh, talk about. Ecological justice. It’s an online event. So check out their website for more information at APIENC, A P I E N C .org.  

[00:47:07]On Saturday, September 26th from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Pacific time. The East Bay meditation center is hosting event. Um, a SIT called healing, the healers, cultivating resilience and creativity. With Melvin Escobar.  

[00:47:28]On Thursday, October 1st. ASATA the Alliance of South Asians taking action is hosting a voter’s guide to South Asian immigration history. What you need to know one month before the elections.  

[00:47:48] Tracy: Mark your calendars for October 8th and join CAA Chinese for affirmative actions 51st anniversary celebration of justice. CAA’s annual gala is taking place online this year to keep everyone safe. And as this is our largest annual fundraiser, celebration of justice provides vital resources to help CAA  address the needs of our community right now. 

[00:48:13] In these times of racial reckoning, the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued assaults on our communities. It’s imperative to have a strong Asian-American advocate for civil rights with CAA.  CAA has been such an important home for so many of our AACRE groups, including APEX Express, please go and support. You can RSVP by visiting our website at 

[00:48:38] CAASF.org.  


[00:48:40] Once again, we thank Leo, Ranjana, Chali, Asia, Cassie for being on the show with us tonight on APEX Express. 

[00:48:51] And for all you listeners out there. Keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and keep sharing your visions with the world. Your voices are important. APEX Express is produced by Tracy Nguyen, Preeti Mangala Shekar, Tara Dorabji, Jessica Antonio, Miko Lee and Jalena Keane-Lee. Tonight’s show was produced by your host Tracy Nguyen.

[00:49:20] Thank you to the crew at KPFA for their support. And especially during this time of shelter in place. Take it easy



Artist Song Album Label
Blue ScholarsYuri KochiyamaCinemetropolisBlue Scholars
Ruby IbarraUs (feat. Rocky Rivera, Klassy & Faith Santilla)Circa91Beatrock Music LLC
BonoboFlutterFlutterMERLIN - Ninja Tune