This project is supported by funding from a Middlebury College Community Engagement Mini-Grant.
“From the local to the global: Asians and Asian Americans on the side of Racial Justice, Climate Justice, and Gender Justice,” a lecture by Helena Wong
Nov. 14, Helena Wong from Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the World March of Women: U.S. Chapter, came up from New York City to speak at Middlebury College. The turnout was exceedingly good, with the entire Orchard room at Hillcrest filled, which means there were about sixty people who showed up. This, I would suggest, had a lot to do with Trump’s election victory on the preceding Tuesday. Many students were still grappling with the implications of this landmark election results.
Helena spoke for about an hour in total, and then took half an hour of questions afterwards. Her talk can be broken into three main parts: i)community-based organizing in NYC (with Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, ii)global justice organizing as a U.S.-based organizer: calling out and challenging U.S. imperialism, and iii)gender equity organizing in China. I especially loved the succinct pieces of advice she gave: i)let’s fight like hell for our rights and liberties, ii)stop the blame game and start organizing, and iii)always use an intersectional analysis of climate, gender, and racial justice.
Helena’s perspectives are rarely heard on this campus: specifically, her choice to dedicate her life’s work to organizing, and the concrete ways that the work that she is involved in has challenged U.S. imperialism in COP21 and in the case of the murder of Berta Cáceres, for examples. With Trump’s ascension into presidency, my sense is that many students at Middlebury are looking for answers: what can be done? What must be done? Helena’s wealth of experience as an organizer spoke loudly and clearly to these burning questions, especially as they are asked by Asians and Asian-Americans who are not usually understood (and self-understood!) as having any connection at all to any social justice movements. Her voice is a very important one to witness, without a doubt.
For a full record of the lecture, including the Q&A section in the end, go to this link: https://vimeo.com/191839389.