CLF-Story of Grace & James Boggs by Stephen Ward
Presented on December 7, 2021, by Silicon Valley Community Media, Ding Ding TV, CLUSA: Civic Leadership USA, partner with James and Grace Lee Boggs Center, United Asian American, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, ASEI, APAPA – Asian Pacific Islanders American Public Affairs, Young & Lamei Association, Care U, and many other organizations and ethnic groups.
Different Cultures. Common Ground. Civic Leadership Forum 2021
In ages past, humankind joined hands in solidarity to beautifully birth what we now call “Community,” a word and concept whose origin is rooted in holding “Common Ground.”
It was in Solidarity that the most affluent and diverse cultures in history flourished.
In fact, we can see every center of learning and wealth throughout history has been firmly built upon the foundation of a strong heterogeneous community. They may have held different cultures, but they all found common ground.
In our latest event, we joined our voices in that sincere song of solidarity as we sought to unmask the truths behind the current tide of violence and stop Asian hate. DingDingTV, CLUSA, and Silicon Valey Community Media pooled their efforts to hold a candid dialogue with our African neighbors, promoting understanding and unity through an unbiased forum free of agendas or propaganda.
Unfortunately, solidarity and unity often find themselves poisoned by the ravages and chaos of cultures holding to the toxicity of envy, intolerance, and isolationism.
So we asked, “Will we allow our great community to suffer a similar fate?”
Here’s a look at what our speakers discussed at the event and in the video:
We are all acutely aware of the attacks on Asian Americans who have been viciously targeted by racism, xenophobia, and acts of violence related to COVID-19. An intolerance driven by fear and blame.
In fact, hate crimes have risen 150% against the AAPI community between March 2020 to this past June, alone. The propaganda used by underhanded political techniques, in combination with misinformed press that staunchly rivals Covid in its Virality, has seen anti-Asian hate crimes double between pre and post-pandemic America.
Though social media explodes with sensational and violent videos of our Asian brothers and sisters being brutally attacked or murdered by our African neighbors, the truth is much more complex.
According to Honorable Alex Lee, these are the minority of the cases, 75% of all Asian hate crimes perpetrated by white men, not people of color.
As Gerald Green pointed out, news media have fueled the fires with misunderstanding, exacerbating and promoting poor relationships between our two cultures within the community with an excess of poorly covered stories that focus on the ratings boosting biases.
Even the vast majority of resources online propagate bias and slant, shifting the blame on one group or another and even proclaiming a separate 3rd axis at fault for either political or shareholders’ gain.
Alex Anderson posits, communal and family breakup, the school to prison pipeline, as principal contributions to our current situation, “the erosion of our community and elders is why we have kids running amok.”
In psychology, “what’s focal is causal.” When our attention is so keenly focused on one thing, we begin to see it as the cause. It is a concept and marketing technique popularized by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and its efficacy is evident in how accepted the narrative of African vs Asian hate crimes is.
As Anthony Ng said, “we are not each other’s problem as the media has so often put us against each other.”
The reality is that African and Asian Americans have worked side-by-side for years.
Fredric Douglas, the famous abolitionist, rose up against the Chinese exclusion act and fought for Asian-American rights claiming America was a composite nation of many peoples.
Moreover, we can see through the life and legacy of James and Grace Lee Boggs, an example of solidarity between our cultures in how they fought for civil rights.
Too often, the media will entertain the darker, violent aspects of a story, neglecting how our communities are working together.
In the LA riots of 1992, many news stations were blowing up the airwaves with stories of violence and looting, nigh dismissing how Asian and African leadership were working together to bring peace back to the city.
Once again our community is at the cusp. Murders, brutalities, vandalism, bullyings– a darkness hangs over us. A darkness cast from the high walls of fear and misunderstanding.
Our purpose and mission are to break down these formidable walls that separate and isolate us from sincere dialogue that will only foster a greater sense of unity and solidarity. We hold the unique privilege of connecting both cultures in unbiased dialogue without hidden agendas.
We aim to stand on common ground and lift our voices high above the noise and call our community to appreciate and respect our differences and thereby learn and grow together.
We aim to bring into focus the untold stories of cooperation and solidarity.
Our Asian elders do not need to live in fear of our African neighbors. Our African neighbors need not feel unwelcome or unaccepted by our Asian brothers and sisters. Instead, let’s talk about the lessons we can learn from these events and what steps we can take together.
Asians as well as all People of Color have a common goal: making America, our home, a better and safer place for multicultural unity –to live together as one community.
We are more alike than different.
In our last event, Different Cultures, Common Ground, we engaged the difficult dialogues through candid, yet courteous discourse. We looked beyond the hurt, beyond Asian America, beyond an African America, and we observed a United America built upon the foundations of understanding and solidarity.
We all bleed red and shed tears. We all experience joy, grief, hope, and fear. We are more than the sum of our geography and upbringing.
We are all one Humankind.
As Sandy Chau proclaimed, “We can conquer these recent difficulties and achieve greatness together. We only need to educate and mentor one another, leading by example. We need to reach out with compassion and understanding. This will destroy the stereotypes and fears. This will turn these misunderstandings into love and trust.”
But, when all we see and hear is the violence and brutality, how can we shift our focus from what’s presented and reach a place of trust and a willingness to understand?
Gerald Green added, “the media needs to tell the stories in a balanced way. Don’t just cover the violence, but also how the communities are working together. We have an individual responsibility to educate ourselves on the origin of this information and measure both sides, thinking for yourself outside of the influence of your friends, family, and media influencers.”
Piyush Malik echoed Gerald, mentioning the need to combat the explosive virality of misinformation on social media and its effects on the worldviews of our youth.
Watch the video above to hear the powerful stories and histories from both our Asian and African brothers and sisters as they hold a sincere and honest discussion that bridges the gap of ignorance and builds greater understanding for lasting solidarity.
Our speakers included several Asian and African community leaders including Mr. Sandy Chau, a formidable Silicon Valley investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Mr. Stephen Ward, the author of “In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs,” California State Assemblymember Alex Lee, Gerald Green, Carl Chan, Kim Sherobbi, Piyush Malik, Haipei Shue, and Alex Anderson.
Help us break down the walls that separate us and attack the ignorance, denial, silence, and anger that so tightly grip the neck of our community. Share this article on social media –share it with your friends and family– and let’s bring salience and truth to those who desperately need it…
Want to become a Community Partner? Contact Sandy@DingDingTV.com, or join us at our quarter-annual Civic Leadership Forums.