We are honored to be releasing a 3-episode special feature with SEARAC, also known as the Southeast Asian Resource Action Center. “SEARAC is a national civil rights organization that empowers Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese American communities to create a socially just and equitable society. As representatives of the largest refugee community ever resettled in the United States, SEARAC stands together with other refugee communities, communities of color, and social justice movements in pursuit of social equity.” Each month from October to December 2018, Project Voice will be releasing an episode that highlights an important social justice issue that SEARAC is fighting for on behalf of Southeast Asian American families, students, and elders.
This month, our topic of discussion will be on our current government’s immigration policies. Oftentimes, the fight for immigrant justice does not uplift or highlight the behind the scenes organizing anchored by the wives, sisters, and community members of those facing deportation, today we are going to have SEARAC share a new resource created by and for families who have been directly impacted by unjust deportation policies. Particularly, this toolkit centers around the experience of the #ReleaseMN8 campaign in its rise to prominence since its creation in 2016. Katrina, SEARAC’s Director of National Policy, will be imparting us valuable findings from the Southeast Asian American Solidarity Toolkit: A Guide to Resisting Deportations and Detentions from The #ReleaseMN8 Campaign.
What is “#ReleaseMN8”?
“In August 2016, the families and supporters of eight Cambodian American men in Minnesota—collectively known as the MN8—decided to organize a campaign to fight the sudden detention and orders of deportation of their loved ones. The #ReleaseMN8 campaign wanted the men, all in their 30s and 40s, to return to the communities where they had faced and overcome countless difficulties in their lives. It also sought to inspire others to join the movement to restore human rights to all refugees and immigrants. The #ReleaseMN8 campaign went public in September 2016. The determination and commitment of the MN8, their families, and their supporters led to the eventual release of three of the eight men.”
Katrina Dizon Mariategue is the Director of National Policy, leading and coordinating SEARAC’s national advocacy efforts promoting social justice and equity among Southeast Asian American communities. Prior to this role, she served as SEARAC’s Immigration Policy Manager for three years overseeing the organization’s immigration policy and racial healing work. Before coming to SEARAC, Katrina worked in the labor movement for six years at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). In 2011, she was elected to serve as DC chapter president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the only national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) union membership organization. In this capacity, she led the chapter’s local advocacy campaigns and organizing work around immigrant workers’ rights, coordinated civic engagement programs for the 2012 elections, and strengthened local networks through extensive coalition building efforts. She also served on APALA’s National Executive Board and co-chaired the organization’s Young Leaders Council.
Katrina holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she also served as graduate coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy to advise, mentor, and educate AAPI students on campus. In her free time, Katrina enjoys playing with her 2-year-old daughter, food tripping with her husband, binge watching shows on Netflix, and watching Broadway musicals.
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Suffering from writer's block? Seek inspiration by listening to author Sharbari Ahmed's journey writing across different genres. She shares why it is important for her to challenge tropes about South-Asians, particularly Bangladeshis and Muslims, in her pieces. I hope you leave feeling motivated to turn your daydreams into stories as I did.
- Afsana Oreen
Sharbari’s short fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Asian Pacific American Journal, Catamaran, Caravan Magazine, Inroads, Wasafiri, Painted Bride Quarterly and Roanoke Review. Her debut novel, Dust Under Our Feet (working title) is forthcoming in 2019 by Amazon India/Westland Publishing.
She is a 2018 Storyknife Fellow and a Tribeca All Access Fellow. She is on the faculty of the MFA program at Manhattanville College and Artist in Residence in the Film and Television MA Program at Sacred Heart University.
In 2018, she gave a TEDx talk about grappling with her Muslim identity, entitled, “Between the Kabaah Sharif and a Hard Place.”
She was on the writing team for Season One of the TV Series, “Quantico” on ABC. Most recently she wrote the screen adaptation of Mitali Perkin’s YA novel Rickshaw Girl. Her debut book The Ocean of Mrs. Nagai: Stories was released in November 2013 by Daily Star Books.
Her play Raisins Not Virgins was produced by the Workshop Theater Company and has been performed worldwide. The screenplay version was part of the Tribeca All Access program at the Tribeca Film Festival.
She was born in Bangladesh and raised in New York, Connecticut and Ethiopia. She lives in Darien, CT.
Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pg/MrsNagai or Twitter @sharbarizohra!
Ever since Project Voice has relaunched its brand, I’ve been waiting to share with you my latest interview with June Kaewsith (Jumakae) on healing and transformative justice. What’s so unique about this conversation is that it speaks to me where I am today as a social justice activist. Oftentimes, as social justice warriors, we often navigate through life with strong messages that we often show a lot of passion advocating. But does that mean we always have to live like martyrs? When and how can we begin to take care of ourselves and our body?
In this episode, June and I will explore the intersections of social justice and healing. We all have our own trauma and adversity, but for many of us, healing from these experiences is still something that we all as people of color are remembering and learning. Other themes we’ll be discussing include the meaning of alternative spaces of healing, decolonization, and self-care. What do self-care and healing mean to us? What does it mean to decolonize our mind and body? How can we perform self-care/self-healing when the work we do can be emotionally, mentally, and physically destabilizing and retraumatizing for us (i.e. call out culture)? What does it mean to be a healer? June and I found ourselves taking a step back to reflect on our “angry activist phase” and re-examining the intention behind doing the work.
Also, on October 2nd, 2018, June will be launching her online summit, Your Story Medicine. Your Story Medicine is 14 days of immersion with changemakers and entrepreneurs in the field of coaching, the arts, and wellness. Join us as we dive into the intersections of social justice and healing. Enjoy free resources and guided meditations from several of our speakers to support you on your journey toward resilience!
June M. Kaewsith, also known as "Jumakae," is a multidisciplinary artist, wellness consultant, and storytelling coach. She has conducted spoken word workshops and mural projects with various youth groups, and has facilitated theater skits with community members addressing local issues from workers' rights to environmental justice. As a keynote speaker, she has motivated crowds through her original poetry in high schools, college campuses, and various nonprofit groups throughout California. Clients who have sought her as a storytelling coach are change agents who have gone on to tell their stories on large stages in front of thousands of people, entrepreneurs pitching project proposals and product launches to board rooms for a handful of investors and funders, and individuals or artists seeking confidence in their ability to speak and perform their work publicly.
Through her additional practice as a wellness consultant ("Green Tara Guidance"), she is a 200 hr registered yoga teacher trained to work with survivors of sexual trauma through Peace Over Violence and a transformational life coach (which she rephrases as "life doula") with a professional certification from Leadership that Works. With her passion for the arts and somatic learning, she holds self-care and storytelling workshops for organizations and individuals to become more comfortable with their mind and body.
"Exercise the heart as much as the mind."
You can learn more about Jumakae and contact her at: www.jumakae.com
If you would like to learn more about Your Story Medicine: How to Move from Trauma and Resiliency, go to: www.yourstorymedicine.com