Hey everyone, this week we're amplifying voices in the Asian communities to hold space for grief, find restorative resources, and assess capacities.
Check out our LIVE Events
Connect with us on:
Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Threads, YouTube, and TikTok!
SUPPORT by sharing this podcast, leaving a rating or review, or make a tax-deductible DONATION to help us sustain and grow this movement
David: Hello, friends. This restorative justice life isn't typically something that is responsive to the everyday goings on in the news. However, over the last couple of years, there's been an increased awareness of anti-Asian hate and violence affecting the Asian Pacific Islander community. Part of this is due to covid and xenophobic sentiment perpetuated by our former president, but so much of this is deep seated hate and white supremacy.
Today's episode is not a breakdown of these ideas, but it is a conversation with three of my fellow Asian community members talking about how the shootings in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park, in addition to the last three years, have impacted us Two weeks later, it feels like the news cycle has moved on from the shootings in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park.
But the impact of incidents like this where there's collective trauma don't go away just because the news cycle stops reporting. Last week's episode of this Restorative Justice Life featured a conversation about restorative approaches to sports with Carolyn Sideco. So we're gonna hear part of our conversation that I didn't include there first.
Then I'll be talking with Christine Juang about the importance of holding grief spaces and how we need to process our grief before we're moving to action. And then I'll be talking with Kalaya'an Mendoza, who you've heard frequently on the speed as we do our last of us breakdown. But our conversation here today is about not getting stuck in fear, not getting stuck in overwhelm with trying to change it all, but figuring out how to do the one next thing to move towards our collective liberation.
If you haven't already, you can catch the conversations that I've had with Kala about HBO's post-apocalyptic drama series, the last of us on the Restorative Justice Reflections episodes that are also appearing in the feed. But for now, enjoy these conversations with my three beloved community members.
Totally. And you know, I'm thinking also, , as you know, as a partner to a black man, as the mother of black boys at Grandmother now. Mm-hmm. Right. And we have those shootings. Then we have the video of another black man being beaten to death. Right. Like it's heavy. You talked about like being emotionally removed.
And, and I resonate deeply with that. When I opened Instagram on Sunday morning and the first thing I saw was tweeting about, you know, the shooting that happened in Monterey Park. I was like, fuck. And like that was waited with a couple of things. One, I was like, it's terrible that that happened.
Two I live very close to Monterey Park and while I'm not like, Immediately impacted by somebody who was shot, right? That is like a proximal community for me. Three, many people who know the Amplify RJ community know that we have been holding grief spaces for Asian community over the last couple years starting with the Atlanta shootings back in 2021.
And we've, we've hosted them over a couple times when these mass collective traumas happen for our community. And so knowing that this is a role that we've played and might be a space for people to look to is like, okay, I've gotta do this work now but I'm leaving for a trip tonight. And like, how are we gonna navigate that?
And, you know, we're gonna have some conversations later with some of the other people who have been holding space and that I love that, you know, over the last couple years there have. Been a lot more organized efforts for community to one, both advocate and respond to and support people who have been directly impacted, but also a lot of other spaces for folks to communally heal and hold space for each other.
But, you know, with all of that, when you tap into those feelings how have you been processing them? What are your practices for, balancing like, I need to do sports relationship coaching in the world I need to be a supportive partner and mom and all of these things with like, these big feelings of, I imagine anger, sadness, fear that come up when shootings like this happen
Carolyn: Yes to all that. David, yes, to all that. I'm affirming all that. What I hear you saying is, is, and what I really take joy in is that how we're, how we as a Asian-American community are multiethnic communities, how we're making spaces and we're reclaiming spaces, we're recreating practices either, either from our ancestral lineage or something in our bodies as telling us especially if we come from collectivist societies right.
And cultures that, that we need to be with one another. , and we're going to do that now. Right? So that's part of that organizing, that's part of that amplification, that's part of the finding each other that we, that's the baseline, I think, of how we operate as human beings, right? The need for one another, the need for connection.
What's different now and, and what adds that dangerous sort of hesitance on my part is that I don't want to dictate to other people what, what their feelings are. I, I wanna come together without those assumptions. And I think that's, that's what's difficult in our current society in the, in the context that we find ourselves in.
If I am in a racialized society, which I am. and I am partnered with a black identified man. I have black sons. I am in a multiethnic micro family. I'm in a cooperative of families that's multicultural diverse and lots of ways. How then do I offer myself, like with vulnerability when I, when I myself cannot ghost myself?
right? Like, I don't want to ghost myself. I don't wanna say, oh, how, how can I be with other people and then contort myself into, into a thing Like, this is what society expects of me. Oh, I'm gonna be the this we talk about the model, minority myth. We talk about other constraints that Asian and Asian identified Surrender to in coming to into this society. Right? So how do I go into these fierce spaces and try to find people aligned with me who I know, like I know that they won't always be aligned with me, right? So, so when I go when I'm invited to watch 38 in the garden, I am only gonna go, I will not spend my money on streaming services to, to go there.
I will go as, as a guest with a complimentary ticket to enjoy in community, at a theater in San Francisco's Chinatown district. If that's what's afforded to me, that's the stance that I want to take. And with that, still with a supportive and critical eye. and what that means, right? Where's the layer of marketing of promotion?
That's gonna create a story that, that I'm gonna pick at. Yes. I'm gonna pick at, because 10 years ago when linsanity happened or was happening, I had to ask people myself, like, and I'm in sports, and Jeremy Lin was local to the San Francisco Bay Area. Mm-hmm. , and I didn't know who he was. And so I asked people who did know who he was.
I had friends in the Chinese community, in the Asian community who, who knew of him and who told me, who shared with me about him. And so when I was interviewed by a local. Journalist about Jeremy Lin, like who goes to a girls Catholic school and asks the athletic director about Jeremy Lin. Well, that guy did, and I was able to, I think, represent a point of view that I inherited that was given to me by people who knew him, people who knew of him.
And with respect to that connection, I was able to amplify linsanity and the take in the local community there. Right? So I'm always giving regards and I'm always giving those sorts of Receipts, you know, if you will, if we could use a capitalistic system here, like giving those those receipts to, to the people who, who help me represent in, in community.
So when, when I think, when I look critically at, at that documentary, when I look critically at what it represents, and it's always gonna represent something, first of all, that we have to be clear about. It's always gonna represent profit making. It's always gonna represent commerce, an exchange, right?
And then the co-opting of what it means to a group of people. That's a whole other conversation that I like to get into the, the weeds in. And I will say for a lot of people at that theater we didn't have time for that because of the q and a that followed with the filmmakers. And with the director, which was great.
It was a wonderful thing. It was cool, but they invited up, hi, Jamie Lynn's high school basketball coach. Nice guy. I am sure. But you know what? If I'm watching that documentary and if I'm celebrating that event, I wanna process that in community. I wanna process that in Affinity. I wanna process that with, you know, 60, 70 year old Asian folks where I wanna ask them what it means to them.
I wanna ask us as a group, I wanna be internally focused and what it means to us for that. I don't want to hear from the white guy coach who wasn't even his Asian club coach, you know? So that's, that's my, my take on that.
David: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know, to close the loop on, you know, how we, and, and I, I know I blended those things together, but to close the loop mm-hmm.
on how we are, how you are, like holding that energy, like in remaining open to those emotions. Right. What does that look like internally in your family? Especially when, you know, we're dealing with life continuing to happen. I know for me, right? The conversations that I had with my Filipino mom on Sunday after or when the shooting happened, were about childcare, right?
Because when. I'm going to because I'm gonna be leaving and, you know, she's helping out a little bit extra while, while I'm gone. It's also about like, oh, traffic, because like, coming out this way to Monterey Park and like, oh, well Kamala Harris is here. So like, how's that gonna impact the way that I drive?
Like, it's showing up for each other in just like logistical support ways are so important. But I, I know we also haven't talked about, right. Extensively like, you know, the, the feelings that we felt, right. She, she has mentioned like, you know, it reminds me of like your uncles and aunt who used to go out dancing too.
And like, you know, I know like we are a little bit removed from that personally. And so like, that's not something that like, is deeply impactful. But like, I think like in my family at least, like we've built habits of. Do what we do until the next thing happens. Like do what we do and don't let the fear or the emotions of things get in the way of mm-hmm.
living the life that you want to live, like take care of the things that you want to take care of. How have you and your family process that both, you know, with these shootings in hindsight the video being released mm-hmm. This last weekend,
Carolyn: right. Like, I, I will tell you that my husband and I haven't talked about it.
I've addressed it with our younger son, just really generally basically in this way your school is addressing it or, or asking him is it being addressed at your school? Are your friends talking about it? I'm getting emails from the school district. That they're talking about it, you know, or that like there's a space for kids there.
And to be honest, I'm not too confident. I'm, I'm confident that there's, that there are individuals there at his school that care about it. I'm not too confident that, that he's gonna get his needs met in that context with his emotions. And, and so I have to keep checking in with him in a, in a gentle way because I don't wanna, I know I can sound because I've been an educator, I am an educator and I've heard that voice of educators who are concerned, and yet under the, the, the concern of I really care for all my students.
and not from the concern of wow. Like you are emotionally possibly very angry and you don't want to talk about it. And there, there's no invitation to them. It's, it's still this, I'm generally, we know that it's 80% white teachers in, in our society. Right? My son goes to a public school. he has a number of, Asian, Asian identified teachers.
I know. But it's still that, that hierarchy of, of I'm in education and I'm going to facilitate for you your feeling. and, and I don't think that there's still a way for for kids to come at it at their own time. And that's what I'm trying to cultivate with, with my son, that I'm, I'm here when you, when you wanna talk about it, if you wanna talk about it, we are going to talk about it eventually in different ways.
And it doesn't always have to be heavy. It doesn't always have to be punitive. And that, that's, these are the, the practices I learned from Amplify RJ from the training, right. David? Like, that's, that's what I'm doing in my family. I can't go to my black husband and say, Hey, you are, you know, you're my black husband and you are oppressed and I'm gonna protect you, you know, from that.
And so, you know, I can't do that because all he wants to do is talk about the Eagles winning. Right that they beat the, and that they beat the 49ers, right? Like that's, I, I, I have to respect that. So I think in that way it's, it's interesting because sports is that way, right? And we have used sports, at least in my family, to address social injustice, to, to address racism, to address inequities.
We have used that. That is my, my in because that's something that my, my husband and my family members and I, we have a commonality in. So that's where I kind of use to to really say that there is space to have those conversations in the sports context.
David: Yeah, I wanna wrap this up and hopefully segue this between the two episodes.
Mm-hmm. , if you're listening to this right now, this is only part of the conversation that we're having with Carolyn. The full conversation that we had, talking about restorative possibilities in the realm of sports Eric last week in this podcast feed. So fully check out that conversation. I will say, just to wrap this last piece up around, you know, why I hold Asian grief spaces and not spaces for grief for, for black folks.
And I've articulated this a couple different ways for people, and so and this might not land really well with, you know, you the listener, but this is the approach that I've taken over the course of United States history. Black people have gotten really good and really well resourced at finding space and community to deal with.
Community violence, collective trauma. I haven't had the need, or had the need of myself. And people in the AmplifiyRJ community haven't explicitly asked for it. Like the black members of Amplifier J community haven't explicitly asked for spaces to process this. Often the response that I get, like, Hey, do you want this?
Like, no, actually I'm looking for a space for joy, right? Like, I'm looking for something else that is gonna uplift. And, you know, while there might be a need in the space, like one that's not necessarily something that like I have capacity for as, as a black man, right? That's not something that like i, I can personally do.
And the, the need that I've identified in the community, like is more about like joy organizing. Let's work together with the Asian community, right? 2021, 2020 and 2021 in some ways was an awakening for a lot of people around their Asian American identity. And while there have been many incidents of harm hate crimes, violence against Asians in this space, many people haven't had collective community practices for dealing with those.
And so amplifyRJ among other groups. Holding these spaces for folks have been really helpful. I remember very clearly in 2020 when I was first holding Amplify our day trainings online. I think in a group of 20 there were six Asian people. And you know, someone made a comment to me like after the fact that, hey, I really appreciated having.
These conversations about racial justice, restorative justice, et cetera with other Asians in the space. That's never happened before. And so they started in an affinity space that they, you know, self-organized. And the collective grief spaces that have now reached, they reach hundreds of people every time we hold them now.
It, it grew out of that. So, you know, those spaces will continue to happen. Some of the people who you'll hear on this podcast episode right now are also doing some of that work. But I'm gonna continue this conversation with Carolyn back on last week's episode of the podcast. And hope you tune into that when you're done listening to this one.
Christine, welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?
Christine: Hello, I am Christine Juang. I am a daughter of immigrant parents from Taiwan. My parents' names are -
David: mm-hmm. , who are you?
Christine: I am a loving partner and wife to my husband. His name is Baldwin Deep. Yes. We've been married now for about a year and a half, and yeah, it's truly a blessing being his partner.
David: Who are you?
Christine: I am a, a community builder. I love being in community, creating community. Thinking about like what makes community both like in. Work, work spaces, but also just like as a human being. Yeah. I feel like community is so important. So
David: who are you?
Christine: I am well joining this podcast as the director of Community Outreach and education with Hetus Virus. We've been with them with the organization for about two and a half, two coming up on two years now,
David: so, yes. Yeah. So three more. Who are you?
Christine: I am. Oh man, I feel like I'm so many things. I am a creative, an artist.
I am a friend, I am a pet parent. I feel . I feel like I'm someone who is deeply in relationship. . Yeah, like the most important parts of what make me who I am is the relationships I have with people. And to like the environments around me and like bringing the beauty out of those things. And so, yes, my friend, I think I am someone who cares deeply about my friendships, my relationships about the communities that I'm with, my family the relationships I have through my work.
Relationship to earth, to my surroundings. Yes.
David: Who are you?
Christine: I am a I am a Jedi practitioner and facilitator. So Jedi stands for Justice, equity, diversity and Inclusion, which I think is a much cooler way to talk about this work than just d e i. But yes, I'm a Jedi practitioner. I am a facilitator of spaces of workshops, a speaker and I do a lot of that work through an organization called Holistic Underground that is based out of the East Bay in California.
But I've been doing that work for, I think generally justice worked for the last five years, but really officially stepping into being a Jedi practitioner for the last two.
David: Mm-hmm. . And finally, for now, who are you?
Christine: I. At the end of the day, I am just a human being navigating this beautiful life that we have and all the complex emotions and feelings and experiences that come with being alive and learning how to love more deeply, live more deeply, connect more deeply yeah, through all that life has to give us.
So it's just a human figuring things out with the rest of y'all.
David: Beautiful. Thank you so much, Christine, for being here. You know, this episode is a series of conversations with cro, with folks across the Asian diaspora about, you know, how we've been processing these last couple weeks. And let's be honest, these last couple years we're having this conversation because in your role as the director of communications and lots of other things hate is a virus.
You were one of the other folks in our community who held collective grief space. And you know, I just wanted to have a conversation with you about one, the importance of that work why we do it and how you've been processing through that. But, you know, it's always good to check in. So to the extent that you want to answer the question, how are you doing?
How have you been over the last weekend change, past couple of years? How have you been processing. .
Christine: Yeah. Well last couple years we'll probably need a little bit more time to dive into than we have on this podcast. But I think for context, so I am originally based in San Francisco, California.
Grew up there my whole life, worked out there for the last 10 years and, you know, it was also the heart of a lot of pain and collective trauma in the A A P I community too over the last two years, especially doing work in hat a virus. It was an intense time. But very, very recently my partner and I ha have actually embarked on a year long nomadic trip, so I'm joining you all right now from PLA del Carmen in Mexico.
We're really fortunate to be traveling and working here and there for myself, but. a part of why I took this. We decided to do this and the way that I've kind of designed and planned out our time is for the next two months, I'm intentionally like not taking on as much work. Really trying to prioritize rest is because the last several years have been so intense, especially as someone who holds and facilitates spaces like yes, in the A A P I community and beyond, and especially around like social justice and social change.
It's been a lot to hold as an individual. And especially when we care, you know, we give so much of ourselves too. And so I wanted to take time to truly rest and see what would it look like for me to just like exist in the fullness of who I am. How much more would I be able to like, not even just give, but also give to myself.
And what's been interesting is as I've, you know, we're. Two and a half weeks into this journey, and even without, even before the tragedy of the mass shootings that happened, one of the primary emotions that I've been wrestling with is grief. Like, as I've given myself space to just be and exist, even in like one of the most beautiful places, living this like very dream life that, you know, we've planned for, for a long time, like grief was this huge emotion that kept coming up for me.
And I realized it was because it wasn't just, you know, one incident here, you know, just a transition saying goodbye to home, but it, it was a series of, of pain and trauma that we've collectively experienced for so long. And you know, like things happening so quickly. That we don't even have time to process each one individually.
And it just continues to build and build and build. That now that I have spaciousness, it's like this grief that's been sitting here and walking with me has been like, Hey, like I'm here. I need a minute. Yeah. I need you to, I need you to hear me and listen to me. I have, you know, and to, to really sit with her and say like, yeah, you are, you are valid and you matter.
And like, what are the lessons that are there? So I think the tragedy is definitely added onto that. I feel like really honored to be able to hold spaces for us to come together and collectively grieve. And I know we're gonna talk more about like why those spaces are so important. . But I think also because I've been in this practice of actually really sitting with my grief a lot over the last few weeks and even over the last few months as, as I've personally been making this huge transition, it's, I think I've, I've felt like grief has been a close friend that I can sit next to.
And it's still hard and there's still a lot there and a lot to unpack, especially with the recent the recent shootings. But yeah, learning how to really walk alongside with my grief and, and to even sit with her and yeah, has been a really important practice for me. And so for all those reasons, I think all things considered I am okay.
David: Yeah. . Yeah. Thank you for that. I, I attended the space that you facilitated last Thursday and something that you said in. , I, one of your opening remarks mm-hmm. was mm-hmm. around this idea of getting away from the mindset of like, are you done grieving and shifting towards, like, have you grieved enough mm-hmm.
and I know I might not be saying those words in context, and I'm curious if you could give us a little bit of context for what that was like, but like really what that shift has meant for you.
Christine: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yes. So I think a lot of times for me growing up in the us growing up in a Chinese family, we tend to have this mindset around, well, first of all, let's just be honest.
Like, grief is a hard thing to touch, right? Like, no one's like, Hey, let's like sit together and be sad. Or like, let's talk about our grief. It's usually something that we've learned to avoid, learned to minimize as much as possible, but it's something that is so deeply universal to. , all of us as as humans doesn't matter what race, culture, where you grew up, like grief is something we all experience, but not something we all have space to feel.
And so for me, I feel like growing up in the US it was always this feeling of, you know, whenever something bad would happen or when bad things even maybe happen to us collectively. It almost feels like there's like this unspoken amount of time that you're allowed to be sad or like have feelings about it right?
Before people are kind of like, are you done? Like as you moved on? And no one will say that to you, right? No one's gonna be like, oh, are you still sad? I mean, maybe some people do, but it's kind of this like unspoken energy of, okay, we've you've had enough time, or like, this is the time you have to, to be sad about it.
And this is, these are the ways that you're allowed to do it. And then especially when big traumas happen in our communities, it's like, , the news cycle already moves on to the next story, right? People often grieve in private, so you also don't know how other people are experiencing their own grief.
They bury it in their work. I know I used to do that all the time as I just work through my sadness or even cor even structures and systems that we're a part of, right? Like at work, we only have so many hours allowed for grievance, like for grief, and only if it's like the loss of a close family member.
I remember during covid when so many of us were going through tremendous loss of life I had a coworker who unfortunately lost like three of her family members in a very short amount of time to covid and to other reasons. And she literally had like 10 days that she could take off, and that was it.
And then she was back at work. Having to show up and perform and, you know, meet expectations and quotas and the whole time, all I could think about was like, have you had enough time to grieve? Yeah, and I think we, we internalized that. I know, I think I've internalized that in the ways that I've seen people around me grieve.
Or when I've had to grieve over loss, you know feeling like when I share with people like, Hey, I'm still sad, or, Hey, I'm still having a hard time, weeks, months later when it hits, because grief is also not linear, right? There can sometimes be this energy of like, oh, you're still, this is still something that impacts you versus an opportunity to connect and to come together and say, , yes, your grief is important.
Your grief has a place here. Like what do you need as a part of your grief process? And giving people spaciousness to grieve as much as they need to and in the ways that they need to. And so I think again, and so to have that shift from are you done grieving? To have you grieved enough? It also doesn't mean like, you know, sitting or wallowing in our grief.
Cause I don't think anyone wants to stay in that place either. But I think when we have an openness and a spaciousness to acknowledge that that's real, and then to have people come together with us to sit with us in that grief, to give us the space that we need to help us know that we're not alone. , it also turns grief into an opportunity, I think, for deep connection, both with ourselves and with other people who are often also impacted by loss.
And so, yeah, so I think for me, having that shift has been really powerful because then grief doesn't feel like this big scary thing when I feel like I have to do it by myself or have like, I'm on a timer, like I only got this much time left and then I gotta be okay cuz someone is gonna expect me back at work or back you know, at my full self.
But it's given me time to really sit with it and yeah, I'm super grateful to have a partner too, where when I've brought up to him like, Hey, I'm still grieving. His response isn't like, why, but it's, what do you need? Mm-hmm. , or it's a hug or it's just sitting with me. And in that it makes me feel like this grief is okay and allows me to actually move through it.
And then transform it into, yeah. Something, something beautiful as well.
David: I think really personally and logistically. I'm curious when he asks you those questions, like, do you always have the words, are you always able to identify like, oh, this is what I need.
Christine: I think my pause shows the answers probably no. . Yeah. And that sometimes yeah, sometimes what I need is most times what I need is just that space to be sad and for someone else mm-hmm. to like know that first of all, like I'm an extrovert. I also have my moon in Aries. For folks who know or care what that means, it means when I feel my feelings, they come on hot and heavy and they're intense and I gotta feel them all the way through.
And so, and I think for so many of us, like when we are in that deep grief, like we just. Need. What we really need is to know that we're not alone and to have space to feel that. And so, yeah, I think also being someone who is like deeply self-aware, which is both a gift and a burden sometimes. I do feel like there are times where I can tell him like, yeah, this is what I need in this moment.
Or to say like, actually I don't, I don't know what I need right now, but I just need to be sad. He'll just be like, great, can I get you a boba? Like, what do you need? Do you need to like just go to your room by yourself? I'm like, yes, that's what I need. So yeah,
David: I'm, so, the, the very personal logistical thing is right.
I think like my, I'm not gonna like put a value judgment on it. I have not experienced a tremendous amount of personal loss in my life. . And so like, I have a harder time relating to people who are grieving. Of course, like, you know, I've had grandparents pass. I haven't been incredibly close with either of them who have passed.
I still have two living. I see what's going on in the world, . Mm-hmm. . And I'm also someone who can like, pretty easily like emotionally detach from these things and be like, all right, so what are we gonna do about it? Or like, I can't do anything about this right now, so I'm not gonna worry about that.
And my wife is someone who lost her mom. Right. And so and this is like 10 years ago now. And so like from the beginning of our relationship, like this is something that I've struggled to navigate, like how to be with someone in grief. Mm-hmm. , doing work of restorative justice, doing work in circle has taught me how to better just sit there and hold space for people.
And when I'm thinking about like our interactions and, you know, , the way that our relationship has grown over the last goodness, like going on eight years. Wow. Yeah. . I love that. You know, I have to stop myself from like, trying to solve problems. Like, oh, like let me make you not sad anymore. Yeah.
Right. And like, that was something that like I was really struck by in, in your, in your statement on last Thursday and even in my conversation with Carolyn, who you heard in this episode and also in the episode that aired last week for you listeners about Right. Jumping to like doing the thing to solve the problem, to like, and like, I think like people can label it as grind culture, but I don't think it is.
Right? It's like there is a problem that needs solving now and like while my efforts right now are not going to prevent the three people that the police shoot. Tomorrow because the police kill three people every day. While my actions right now are not going to stop all kids from being suspended or ashamed or like put in detention.
While my efforts are not going to reverse anti c r t legislation, while my efforts are not going to give abortion rights to like people who have children who can get pregnant across the country, right. Like there's something that I can be doing. And I also know, like intellectually I know that like taking the time and space to like grieve process, become like the whole list person that I can be, and like not pushing other people to like move past that is a generative thing, but like the time to know when to like.
and now we're problem solving. Now we're taking action. Versus like, no, let's just sit in This one manifests differently for everyone. Totally. But it's not something that, like, I'm incredibly practiced in, even though like I have this practice of, you know, holding space for folks. Like, I don't often fully do it for myself or like people in my day-to-day life.
Christine: Yeah, I totally hear that. And you know, as you were sharing that, I was just thinking even for me, like I, I did not have examples growing up of adults or people around me who took that time to sit with their emotions or express emotions that didn't feel, that weren't necessarily labeled as like, you know, the good or acceptable emotions.
. And so I think this is also like deeply generational work, right? Of like, we are also learning and choosing like a different path for ourselves to say, okay, I'm not going to just start, I'm not going to just immediately move into problem solving mode or fixed mode. And that it's actually okay for me to like be a human.
And to do that, like in relationship to other human beings like that creates more opportunities for us to have connection and to actually move through things in a healthy way and process so we're not just carrying it with us. But for, I imagine for a lot of us, like we haven't had those examples and so that's okay.
Like we, we have an opportunity to try and to shift that narrative, but because we haven't had that, it takes time and it's a muscle, we have to learn it. And so, yeah. And , quick left, right turn, left turn into relationship advice as well. I think the best relationship advice I ever got, and that I've really learned with my partner, who we are also coming up on eight years, seven years.
We might be a year behind you. But yeah, whenever, whether it's conflict or grief or you know, whatever, when we have a need from one another is to pause and just to ask, like, do you need comfort right now? Or do you need solutions? Like, do you want me to just sit and tell you it's gonna be okay or to let you cry, or do you want me to help you find a solution and fix this problem?
And sometimes even just asking that to the other person, like when my partner has asked me about that, I'm like, I would say nine times out of 10, especially when it's like, you know, in the heat of things, I'm like, I just want comfort, right? Mm-hmm. , because it's that very , like innate part of us that's like, I just, I need to feel like I'm okay.
The solutions can come later and they will probably need to come eventually, but like, let's just take this moment so that when we get to that place, like we are, what we put out into the creation of that solution is also rooted in hope and in like, possibility versus just like in grief or frustration.
David: Yeah. I, I feel that deeply. And I think like there are differences between like things that impact us directly, right? Versus like things that are like impacting us, like definitely on a societal level and like we're making like internalized meaning from things that are happening, right? Because. Correct me if I'm wrong, like neither you or I like personally know someone who was shot and killed mm-hmm.
In Monterey Park or Half Moon Bay, or in Atlanta, or in, you know, like in, like in these, in these spaces. And I think both by the work that we've chosen to do and by being part of this like diasporic community that does have impact on us. And I think for me, the balance of, I'm doing this work anyway, like I'm doing this work to prevent this from happening anyway.
And like now I have to stop to be sad about it. , right? Like it is, is hard for me to reconcile. I know. You know, one of the questions that I shared with you was about right, how do people like move from grief to action, but like, I don't know that you, like, that's the question that you want to answer. But how, but I, I, I guess like, because you do this work professionally, in some ways, shape or form.
Like, while it's not like necessarily framed around like stopping anti-Asian hate like all the time, like mm-hmm. at the core, like the work that we're doing is like, how do we treat each other like humans , right? Yeah. At and like for people who don't do that professionally, like what are the things that like as we have these societal impacts, like societal traumatic events impacting us, like what are the steps that like we can take first, right?
Acknowledge the feelings, acknowledge the grief. And like if those aren't present for you, like, I'm not trying to like force that onto anyone . Totally. Right. But, you know, how would you invite folks to navigate the experience of all of this moving us towards a more interconnected, just equitable, compassionate world?
Christine: yeah. . I think for me the reason why I think it is so important to have space again in the time that folks need cuz and in the ways folks need, cuz like you said, it's so different for everyone and not everyone can immediately be like, oh, this happened, I recognize that I'm sad and I need time to feel that before I can do other things.
Right? Like, it looks totally different for, for everybody. But when that grief is really present or sadness or whatever that is to give ourselves time to feel it, that could be five minutes for some, that could be a week for others or longer. Whatever that is. The reason why I think that's so important is because our internal world, our internal state, is going to absolutely impact.
How we then operate in the, in the outer world and what we create in the outer world. So if we are filled with anger, rage, frustration, a lot of which is totally understandable, right? And makes total sense, but if we are operating from that place that's living in our bodies and in our energy and impacting the way that we think, impacting the solutions that we want to create, right?
Or the actions that we want to take, then in the advocacy that we do, in the policies that we create, or even in the ways that we may want to do community care, that's gonna, that's going to show up. And so that's why I think that it's so important to tend to that first, so that we're operating from a place where we've, we've essentially like cleaned up our side of the street.
We've cleaned things up for ourselves. And that's an ongoing process too, right? , you don't grieve once and then you're done. For me, it's like, it's a regular process of oh, it's a new week. I'm sad again, it's a new day. There's something new that I'm sad about, or this grief from last week is showing up for me in a different way.
Right. It's also like a continuous muscle that we practice using. I think when, when we do that and we're able to clear it more, then when we are taking action, and maybe that's within the same day, within the same breath, but we're able to, we're able to also see other people as more human and see that like we're all figuring this out and when we're in high levels of stress, high levels of trauma, our ability, like we're really focused then on our own needs and it's much harder to be able to, I think, take action that is going to be truly equitable.
And inclusive and empathetic because we haven't really addressed our own needs. And so, yeah. So I think tending to ourselves then helps us to do that better for other people as well and in other spaces that we're working in. Yeah. And then I think it's like something, I, especially when I first started doing like social justice, social change work I would feel like we need to fix everything all at once, right?
We need to fully abolish the police. We have to get rid of all like , all systems that are oppressive tomorrow. Or we have to get rid of like everything all at once, right? It's a very all or nothing mentality, which is also very much a characteristic of, of white supremacy culture. And I think when we are in a tender state and when our communities are in a tender state I think one way that we can move from brief into action is just thinking like, what's that one first thing that I can do? Maybe it's the first, the one thing I can do today is I can reach out to my five closest friends to check in on them and see if they're doing all right. Right? Then it's, I'm gonna reach out to one organization and see that I know is doing work around gun control or around, you know around legislation and I'm gonna see how I can show up for them.
And I think taking those bite size pieces while yes, we won't, like you said, stop all the horrible things from happening tomorrow. It feels more manageable. And I think it feels, yeah. It's also reminds us that like we are human. There is only so much that we're able to do, but it's all of us collectively doing that, that is also gonna make that impact.
So yeah. So thinking about. , what is that one first step? Do it and then see what else that opens up for you. And I think as we do that and then we build that momentum, then it also opens up more opportunities for us to take more action and to do so potentially and hopefully in community with one another.
David: there's so much there this week, more than other weeks, like I've been recognizing like, the internalization of urgency and getting shit done. Because like the work that we're talking about doing is like saving people's lives or like preserving people's.
giving people skills to protect themselves, protect their communities. And, you know, if you wanna tap into that work, amplify ij.com. Holistic underground.com. Hate is a virus. Is that.org. Dot org , yeah. Right. The, and all of those are linked in , the show notes or, or the description. But when we are, you know, interpersonally doing this work, right, carrying that energy carrying hurt energy, carrying angry energy, carrying sad energy, like, definitely does have an impact.
I think what's hard about all of this is like that none of this is linear, right? And e like, even if we like, break things down to like micro and like, I'm not even gonna call these a micro acts, but of like organizing a grief space. Like I wake up, see, Instagram post. Like, okay, what is the thing? Like there needs to be like an internal process that I do.
Like when do I actually have the capacity to do this? Can I do this tonight? Well, if I actually do this tonight, I could probably like get it together, get it organized. But what I would be doing is sacrificing time with my family that I'm not gonna get, cause I'm about to go on a trip. So I'm gonna be gone on Wednesday I'm gonna be gone on Monday.
I'll be back on Tuesday. Okay, so Tuesday, what are the things that I need to do it on Tuesday. Right? Because if I had held it on Sunday night, like I would've been distracted by like some guilt of like, I didn't put my kid to sleep the night before. I'm about to go on a trip. Right? Like, they like, they're like those really practical ways.
One next thing could be, I mean, those one next thing could be like, you know, sign up for this newsletter, take this course, call your legislator check in on your friends. We're gonna hear a couple other things from Kala Mendoza in the next portion of this podcast. But that, that is such helpful. It is such a helpful reminder that, you know, we are not, you cannot possibly solve everything tomorrow.
You will not solve 10 things tomorrow probably. So like, let's start with one, right? And when all of us do that one, when we do those things together in community, like you were saying we do make change, do you make impact? Anything else you wanna leave the people with? I do.
Christine: Yeah, I mean, I, it's so, I feel so uncomfortable still talking about grief. It's like this weird thing to have to admit like, oh, this is something that we all go through. And yet at the end of the day, like I think these tragedies hit so close to home because we see ourselves in them and it brings up for us our humanity.
And the fact that, like you said, like I don't know anyone personally who is, you know, who we lost in either the Monterey Park or the Half Moon Bay shooting, or the Oakland shooting, or Ma many of the many other shootings that have happened in our country in the last, you know, 31 days of this year at the time of this recording.
I think it shows how interconnected that our humanity is, that we can still be so deeply. Impacted by it. And that as things happen and these collective traumas happen to us, being able to slow down and take a look at our grief, I think does really help us to see the humanity in one another and drop like all these lines that we intentionally or unintentionally create around our identities.
And who gets to comment on what or who are, you know, who are we doing this work for, or what, who is this space for? Or, you know, what all of those things. And just to recognize like we are all human and it's okay for our feelings to be messy and that we're all figuring it out and we're all kind of in this experience in our own ways.
. And so yeah, how do we have a, just a little bit more compassion for ourselves and for others as we navigate these really tricky waters. And I think when we do that, there's, I've personally experienced like so much hope, so much connection, so much relationship and trust that is built, like when we're able to sit in that space with one another, that has then informed work that is so much more beautiful and life-giving and abundant.
Yeah, that I, I know it's possible for us.
David: It has been a hell of a couple weeks and let's be honest, a couple years. How have you been navigating the last two weeks? Both as a person and as a person who has been seen as a resource for your community and head of an organization? .
Kala: Hey David. Like a lot of kids.
I grew up in the eighties and nineties. We watched, Mr. Rogers, and one of the things that Mr. Rogers said that during times of, disaster, his mom told him to look for the helpers. Mm-hmm. and seeing the offering that you and amplify RJ provided for our communities was a beacon in a very, very pale time.
And I think we find ourselves in a lot of pale time. So I am both deeply grateful for the work that you do. And also, I'm just tired. , we have been in a mass disabling. Event for the last three years with a settler colonial state that has declared that covid is over.
There hasn't been enough mental health resources for any of our communities. There has been yet another high profile state sanctioned murder of a young black man, Tyree Nichols. Right. And like our, we're we're grappling with gun violence within our own communities. So all of these things can kind of coalesce into just a sense of like, oh my God, when is this gonna stop?
Mm-hmm. . That's kind of where I am. Yeah.
David: Yeah. And I know a lot of people coming into those spaces feel really similar things. I'm not somebody who is incredibly attached to my emotions all the time. I think even in like facilitating those spaces, you, I think it's healthy for, as a facilitator, especially when they're 130 plus people in the room to detach and like focus on the facilitation of the thing and have other processing spaces, which I've had.
But you know, when people come in with those like very strong emotions, not just of like sadness, anger, fear, but of like, what, what I, what I was hearing is like despair and hopelessness. I think it's important to acknowledge those feelings, but how do we channel those into like things that lead to change, actions that lead to change, mindsets that lead to change, what gives you hope?
What are hopeful actions? Because you've been doing this for a long time. , you've been doing this for longer than me. No. Tell me the ways No, we, yeah,
Kala: I don't have the answers. So I mean, we find the ways together, right? And I think that's really the only thing that gives us hope in these times. As a low key prepper I've always put forth that communities the only way that we're gonna survive, the ongoing living nightmare that we find ourselves in.
And I think that the more people can find the one thing that they can do for their community, whether that is offering to, you know, walk an elder from Their home to the subway, whether it is offering to pick up groceries for someone that is immunocompromised and can't, whether that is decentering oneself I think that one we have to first look inwards to what is our capacity in this moment. What can we offer others? Because I think we can always find that, but also just to be very real, sometimes we won't have the capacity. Mm-hmm. . And doing the work of caring for yourself in whatever way that looks like, and to ask for your community for care is a very.
Clear and practical step, towards, the liberation of our communities, working for the safety of our communities. So,
David: for those who were listening, there was a moment where we had to take care of something in the middle of that. But I wanted to pull out a couple of things from what you said.
Cause I think they're really helpful. And then follow it up with a question. So, right. Both just what is the thing that, the one thing, the small thing that is gonna be value added to, not like in capitalistic terms, but like value added to your community, making a connection with somebody, reaching out, asking if you can provide meals, food, like, like really, really low key basics and like, you were a model of that for me this week.
And so thank you for that. But you know, some people. . Often when we're faced with like the enormity of, let's just think about like anti-Asian sentiment in the United States. It was like, cool, I provided accompaniment and safety for an elder in this moment. But what did that do in like the big scheme of white supremacy and like anti-Asian sentiment in the United States?
What do you tell people who are feeling hopeless on that level?
Kala: I think in the cacophony of chaos that we find ourselves in when everything seems so overwhelming, I think if we look at ourselves more as, as a symphony that we can, where we can find our lane, where we can play our instrument, when we can add to the, the music of hope, of kindness, of the good things that we have as human beings.
You know, I think that's the one place that, that we can start because like this is, , this is not the first time. This has happened before, and it'll happen again. And if we can look to our ancestors and how our ancestors, you know, must have found ways to build community in the face of colonization, genocide, occupation, you know, it, it really, I don't think it's that, big of a leap to find what are the things that they did.
And like, once again, it's like building community and that need'nt be in person. That could be online, that can be just reaching out and offering to hold space for someone who may be isolated like so many of us are right now. Right. I think with we're still in a pandemic. We're still trying to navigate all of the things that are happening and these small actions.
they're not small, right? They're singular actions. But the more actions people can take for community, the bigger impact it will have. I am not, I'm at an age where I'm gonna be 45 and I'm gonna, I I've been doing this, like you said for a, a while now. I, I don't operate off of the delusion that I'm somehow going to, be a part of via, you know, this integral part of the revolution.
I, what I want to see is what Dr. Angela Davis and Gracely Boggs called for, which is visionary organizing. And I think that means like actually sitting down and taking note of what is a world that we want. And one thing I'd invite listeners to do is to actually find that moment, because we're in a time where we are, you know, like I said, being assaulted by this cacophony of chaos around us we can almost not operate, but I think what we can do is just take a moment for ourselves to either draw out, to write out what is this, what is a world that we're building?
You know, what is the, what does a safer world actually look like? When we're able to envision that, that's when we're, we can start taking steps towards working towards that. And not everyone's gonna be an activist and organizer, and that's okay. Not everyone should have to be, but we can do many, many small things together that have a powerful impact on all of our communities.
David: Yeah. Coupling that with like the way that you ended the thing that you said before about, you know, like how do we balance the thing that we're doing to take care of ourselves right, as individuals and not getting stuck there in order to have this vision? I've shared with you, and I'm trying to share this carefully that in the spaces that I've held and in conversations that I've had and things that I've witnessed in the last couple of years, including over the last week, people are just waking up to the otherness of being Asian, in whatever community they find themselves in.
And like, that's a really painful thing for people to experience when. Experience those things, like feel feelings of anger, isolation, like you said, come up and like there is often the want, need to want to connect and build, like just identity affirming spaces and like having those things stay there.
How do you expand or like how do we invite others to expand into thinking about these issues of liberation when they don't just affect our communities? Right? Because one, it would be ignorant to say that like anti-Asian violence hasn't been happening for, like, we can't just say like, oh, Vincent Chin happened in 1983 and then the Atlanta Spa shooting in 2021.
Like, there were lots of things that have happened between now and then. And you know, the murder of black people at the hands of police didn't just happen with Tyre Nichols. We can go back to Breon Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, also Sterling Philando Castile. So Rekia Boyd, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, like all the way back.
As long as people have been brought over to the side of the Atlantic against their will from West Africa. You know, you, you told me a little bit ago, like, things change when people get angry. Right? I think paraphrasing Malcolm X, but I don't, I don't know that like, anger is like, incredibly like, sustainable like space to be in.
You know, James Baldwin talks about like the double consciousness that like to be a black man in America is like, you know, always being angry, but like anger isn't a sustainable place to like, organize and move from. Is it ?
Kala: No, I agree with you. Anger isn't a sustainable, and I don't, I think it's more of a spark.
Mm-hmm. right. Helps to, start the fire that can create the embers that can slowly burn, that can, feed the community that can keep us warm. And I think for everyone that is waking up or coming to a love sense of political consciousness right now, I just wanna say welcome. We've been waiting for you.
it's the more people that we're able to invite into movement spaces and for those of us that have the capacity to support those folks, I wanna invite us to do that as well because the only reason that I am able to do the organizing that I have is because of elders, you know, primarily trans and fem elders that have taken me under their wing.
And really, worked with me to build my analysis and my practice in doing this work. I, I wanna reflect like the the anger. Anger does not sustain, but love does. Love is the one resource that we have built into our d n a that we have in the very fiber of our being. That is the one thing that I think a lot of people are operating off of right now, is their love of community, their love of humanity.
And sometimes that gets misinterpreted as, as rage. But, what is rage if not love taken to that, you know, that intense level, this rage against the state, this rage against a machine hollered 1990, I think that's, yeah, I, I agree with you. Anger is not sustainable. But love is, but we can use that anger to spark the fire that we need in order to keep our communities.
safe and warm
David: where would you want to direct some of those sparks now? I mean, you know, in the formation of organizations, in the form of communities, are there any places that you would want to invite people into?
Kala: Yeah, really start local, find out what's happening on your block.
David: Look for the helpers, right?
Kala: Yeah. Look for the helpers. Look for those, you know, things don't need to happen on a, a national level. Like I, I just recently, started to identify as a solar punk, which for folks that don't know, solar punk is kind of a antithesis to like cyberpunk where the future is dire and it is, only technology driven.
Solar punk is kind of like this. , vision of where we have sustainable food, where our identities are not just respected, but celebrated where we are able to find leadership in nature and in non-human beings. I think that the more we can get out of the moment and take us like move back just a little bit and to see that what we're doing right now and what we're experiencing right now, like I said, has happened before, it'll happen again.
How do we. Find ourselves and our, the skills that we bring to local communities because we're part of the community, we're part of, part of an ecosystem, right? The more we can add to that the better we don't always have to do be part of a national organization or international organization.
We can really start with mutual aid and mutual protection groups that are very local. And those already exist and they have existed for many years now.
David: Yeah. And some of those things are a Google away. Some of those things might require you stepping outside and making connections with folks and like, you know, maybe that is the one step that we're inviting people into.
Are there any.
Like I, I, I think like, even like making those steps into community, especially after this time of intense isolation, like is daunting or scary for folks. Are there any words of encouragement for people who are just like, I want to, this makes sense, but like, I'm scared of putting myself out there, .
Kala: Yeah. And I think that the, the whole, expectation that folks are quote unquote on the ground in the streets is very ableist.
Mm-hmm. , right? It's very, it doesn't, it doesn't speak to the work that many disabled organizers like, Mia Magus and Alice Wong have been doing for many years, where you don't have to necessarily be be in person. There's ways to connect with community. There are ways to start building that.
Virtually I think that. . We once again do kind of like the capacity check, a self capacity check of what we are okay with and what we wanna do and what we have to offer. And through that, use that as a kind of a compass to find the collectives, the groups that resonate with your values with the way you see the world, and the good you wanna do in the world and start aligning and connecting that way.
David: Yeah, absolutely. Any other words that you want to leave? Our community, with community as broadly as you wanna define that.
Kala: The only way that we will get through this living nightmare is together. I think that we have been told the myth that you know, we have to do this on our own. We can only do this for our commu, our own commu quote unquote community.
But If there is anything that I've learned is that, you know, the only way our communities can be safe is when all communities are safe and having a broader lens of solidarity, right? Where solidarity is not power over it's power with solidarity is about showing up for, those most directly affected by violence being shoulder to shoulder.
Decentering ourselves and offering and leveraging what resources and access to resources we have to those who do, who have systemically not had access to those resources. I think there's a lot of ways that people can get involved in their communities, and like I said, you don't have to identify as an activist or organizer.
You can just identify as a helper and find the ways that you can make things just a little bit less horrible than when they, you know, than they have been.
David: Beautiful. Those are your marching orders, from the comrade. Thank you so much for your time sharing your wisdom that you've gained. I know our community will appreciate it.
Kala: Thank you. Thank and thank you so much again for all of your amazing work. The work of Ampl Amplify RJ like. The work y'all have done continues to resonate I look to you as you know, one of those, guiding lights in the consolation that we follow towards, a kinder, safer and more just world
David: humbling and uncomfortable to receive. But I will take it and move us on to the next part of our conversation. Thanks so much.