Lifting our Voices for Change: A reflection on APANO Day of Action
by Kathy Wai
Policy Advocacy Coordinator
On February 15th, 2016, APANO held our 7th Legislative Day in our state Capitol to make our communities visible and voices heard in front of lawmakers. Our communities have always existed in Oregon weaving our contributions to the economy, culture, and fabric of society. Our narratives tell stories of resilience, hardship, optimism for our families, but also that of confronting racism and exclusions imposed on us through public policy and laws that have existed for generations.
We continue to grapple with the notion of model minority, and what that means for us Asians and Pacific Islanders to stand in solidarity with other communities of color. With these realities, the goal of our policy advocacy is to educate and inform those in positions of power, to tell our real stories, and be actively involved in the political process.
Starting in 2009 with a group of volunteers at our first Legislative Day, APANO has practiced that mission. For the first time in Oregon’s Capitol, API’s came together in solidarity to share our stories, network with each other, and most important talk to lawmakers about who we are as a powerful, diverse, growing community.
This week, we achieved that mission yet again. We had the largest number of attendees in the history of our legislative days--over 100 community members came to our Capitol for a day of engagement. We met with elected officials to advocate for Our Families, Our Health campaign priorities as they move through the Legislative Session. Members shared moving stories of how health has impacted their lives, how their gender, income, and immigration status has influenced their experience with health systems. It was a powerful day of action in a multigenerational and multiethnic space that represents who we are as an API community.
Highlights by the numbers:
- Over 100 community members in attendance from various ethnicities, backgrounds, and ages.
- More than 15 Legislative Captains who lead teams of community members.
- 28 legislative office visits in the House and Senate.
- 250 pledges of support for Our Families, Our Health
We need to keep telling our lawmakers to support our issues. 383,000 Oregonians continued to be uninsured. This week is critically important as most of our bills will be moving into other committees. Please take a minute to send a message to your legislator. It will only take 5 minutes.
- Save the Date for our annual Health Forum on Saturday, April 2nd as we continue to address health disparities in our communities, and look to organizing and policy change for solutions. We are proud to be co-hosting with CANN, the COFA Alliance National Network this year to have more emphasis on Pacific Islander health. More information to come!
Thank you to our wonderful Co-Sponsors CANN, the Oregon Commission on Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs, and other partner organizations for being with us. Finally, we thank you--our community members for your presence and using your voice to influence policy change!