Building The AAPI Women’s Movement For Justice

When people from across the country gather in D.C. this week for the Women’s March on Washington, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women will be there in full force, marching to demonstrate our commitment to the social justice issues that affect our communities. We’re far from your model minority; we’re fierce and outspoken — and we will stand strong together against hate and injustice.

Over the past few weeks, I have had numerous conversations, with close friends and people I’ve met for the first time alike, that this inauguration, this new presidency feels very different than any other changing of party control of the White House. Donald Trump ran on a racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform, and he became president. All of us who have felt his attack personally and communally know there is a lot at stake, and we’re not sitting quiet. We’re coming out in full force.

Recently, I read in the Washington Post that there are 200 hundred bus permits being sought for Inauguration Day and 1,200 bus permits being sought for the Women’s March on Washington.  This doesn’t account for all the people who will march the streets of various cities at the same time. We are, indeed, coming out in full force. The new administration has promised to dismantle the rights of the AAPI women and our communities.

The new administration has promised to dismantle the rights of the AAPI women and our communities.

Now more than ever, it’s important to reaffirm our solidarity with everyone who is fighting for justice, whether it’s across the street and across the nation. That is, while we’re gathering in Washington and cities across the country, the work we do every day in our own communities, following the march, will be the key to successfully fighting back attacks on our most basic human rights. We not only will be sending a powerful statement, in the nation’s capital, to the new president and Congress, we will be forging the coalitions that will work to protect AAPI women’s rights in cities across the country.

The attacks we expect are many and have begun even before the new administration is seated. The promised repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has provided accessible health care to more than 20 million people is already underway in Congress. We also expect an attack on President Obama’s executive order that made paid sick leave a requirement for federal government contractors. The threats to Title X funding for reproductive health, and in particular the threat to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, are already in play. Of course, Trump continues to promise to build a wall along the southern border. Make no mistake; whether he actually builds a wall or it’s just another unfulfilled campaign promise, the new president and Congress seem intent upon walling off all immigrants without regard for our human and civil rights.

But we needn’t look to Washington for such attacks on our rights. There are at least 46 anti-abortion bills pending in state legislatures now. We know that we will see even more abortion bans as the year wears on — greater restrictions and bigger barriers to our reproductive health care and harsher attack on our rights.

We demand a country that respects human rights, including those of the 10 million AAPI women and girls in the U.S.

It will take all of us working together to fight back against the multitude of attacks at the federal, state and local levels. We have to join together and share strategies across the country and across communities. That’s why the Women’s March movement is so important.

Indeed, we all want the U.S. to thrive and to be a place where freedom and opportunity are heralded. We want a government by and for the people — all of the people, not just billionaires and the privileged. We demand a country that respects human rights, including those of the 10 million AAPI women and girls in the U.S.

As Aung San Suu Kyi said, “There is a time to be quiet and a time to talk.” January 21 is our time to give voice to our cause. AAPI women will speak out in Washington and across the country. We will continue to build our movement for women’s rights and justice. Please join us.

Sung Yeon Choimorrow is the interim executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).