Excerpt from an Interview with Ya-Ting Liu
Ya-Ting Liu (transalt.org) is a federal advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and also the campaign manager for Rider Rebellion at Transportation Alternatives.
My family moved here from Taiwan when I was seven years old. We couldn’t afford a car. The bus was our only way to get around and we used it for everything. Public transit is a vital service that connects people to opportunity and allows for social and economic mobility. It’s just as important as education, health care and jobs. Rural, suburban communities also depend on transit and when bus service is cut, folks are literally stranded without any other way to get to work.
Rocky Rivera (rockyrivera.com) is a hip hop journalist by day and MC by night who found international acclaim by winning a Contributing Editor position on MTV's docu-series, "I'm From Rolling Stone" (2007).
As a pinay, female emcee and artist in the hip hop industry, I deal with misogyny so much. Every time I infiltrate this male circle, I must not fall into the “Here, let me show some skin and get your attention!” because that’s so easy to do. As a woman of color in the industry, you’re marginalized, hyper-sexualized, not allowed to “play” with the boys, and not treated as a peer. The young women who aren’t coming into it with a conscious mind, they’re just hoping to gain acceptance from the mostly male hip hop audience and most times, you’re treated as a novelty.
Shanelle Matthews (sugarforyoursoul.com) does online media communications for Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, advocating for women of color and families on the margins who have strategically been left out of the socio-political debate on reproductive health and rights.
The way women of color activate themselves in their communities is different from the way white women do it. All women of color are struggling in this country for access to resources, public assistance, equality. Black women are harmed by a lack of solidarity because we are often stigmatized as insatiable and hypersexual. The commodification of our bodies is something that is left out of the conversation.
Raquel Nunez (lvejo.org) is a youth organizer for Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.
My passion for environmental justice is ever growing. By the age of 19, I was working to organize around various social justice issues. Over the last eight years, I have created several bodies of artwork with a central focus on social change and youth rights. My goal as an adult ally of the youth at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) is to continue to grow and sustain an environmental justice youth leadership program. We organize youth by creating a curriculum that we share with high schools and have an open-door policy for anyone who would like to become involved and learn more.
Smita Nadia Hussain (chaaweb.org)
is a poet, blogger and photographer who serves in leadership capacities
for local young Democrat and API organizations, including Community
Health for Asian Americans (CHAA), the English Center and the National
Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF). She recently traveled
with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Vietnam.
My parents are from Bangladesh, a country birthed from genocide. People were victimized; tongues were cut off. They wanted independence and were literally fighting for their voice. They demanded the right to speak their language and fought for democracy. When the civil war happened in 1971, a lot of the guerilla fighters were women. Many were executed. Half a million women were raped in nine months. Yet, they still stood up.
Favianna Rodriguez (favianna.com) is a celebrated printmaker and digital artist based in Oakland, California. Her composites, created using high-contrast colors and vivid figures reflect literal and imaginative migration, global community, and interdependence.
As a young Latina I felt invisible. I am the daughter of immigrants and grew up in communities of color most of my life. I felt that my immigrant family, our communities were invisible. Yet, we all carried the brunt of what was happening to the economy in the country and even throughout the world. We were experiencing the effects of injustices in our own community. The injustices I saw as a child, the racism that I experienced via the media or the school curriculum, the xenophobia directed at my parents... angered me in a way that I didn’t have words for. Art became a way for me to talk about those experiences, reframe them, and do something positive. Making art was a way to have a voice and an empowering way to fight back, instead of acting out on my internalized oppression.
North Carolina Dream Team
By Christine Joy Ferrer
Click to Listen to the Podcast
Viridiana Martinez, 25—undocumented, unafraid and unashamed. Martinez is co-founder of the North Carolina Dream Team and a young community organizer and activist for immigrant rights. She only discovered her illegal status after graduating from high school. Born in Mexico and raised in a little town in North Carolina called Sanford, she has lived in the United States since the age of seven, when her parents immigrated. The NC DREAM Team is an organization composed of undocumented immigrant youth and allies, dedicated to the creation of a sustainable, community-led immigrant rights movement in North Carolina and to helping undocumented youth recognize their individual and collective power to activate their communities.
Christine Joy Ferrer: What was it like growing up as a young, undocumented Latina in the South and how has your identity influenced your work?