Bold text against black background reads: “APIENC’s 2020 In Review”. There is a colorful arrow pointing left toward the bottom, and an APIENC logo in the top left corner.
Image description: Bold text against black background reads: “APIENC’s 2020 In Review”. There is a colorful arrow pointing left toward the bottom, and an APIENC logo in the top left corner.

Will we concede to fear, or will we choose interdependence?

Dear APIENC Community, 

Throughout the past year, I have often come back to the question, “Will we concede to fear and individualism, or will we choose interdependence?” 

This past week, as we celebrated historic Senate wins in Georgia and watched in horror as armed white supremacists stormed the Capitol Building, this question was again present in my heart and mind. 

Will we concede to fear and individualism, or will we choose interdependence?

At APIENC, 2020 challenged us to hone our skills in making urgent decisions about the present without forgoing a long-term vision of the future (even when the future seemed impossible). Even in the face of a global pandemic, climate crisis, deep isolation and mental distress, an upsurge in anti-Asian rhetoric, and mounting of white supremacist violence, our members, trans and queer API people spanning generations, actively chose to be with one another time after time. Whether that meant forming an urgent Phone Tree to contact people after the Bay Area Shelter-In-Place was announced, hosting workshops on Asking for Help to unlearn shame, or launching a mutual aid effort to ensure our people had food and PPE—I’m not just proud that we accomplished these things, I’m proud that APIENC members were adaptive and nimble when the community needed it most. 2020, despite the world literally and figuratively being on fire, was a year of transformation. 

Click below images to read more about our highlights! Graphics by Troi Tim Tran.

Summer Organizer Program: Graduated our 11th cohort of 5 rising leaders through our online Summer Organizer Program. Leadership Exchange: The 6th year of our annual Leadership Exchange with 25 participants and 10 alumni facilitators, partnering with 5 other organizations. “It was only in the Asking for Help workshops that I realized how our trans and queer API communities have always survived by being interdependent. As I continue organizing, I know I will make a strong and dignified ask for help because naming my needs is an act of resistance against a world that currently silences me and an ode to my ancestors who have always practiced interdependence.” –Cassie, Summer Organizer
Image description: Leadership Development highlights over purple background. There is a group Zoom screenshot toward the top, two star people toward the middle and a circular photo of Cassie toward the bottom.
Dragon Fruit Project & Network. Phonetree & Asking For Help: After 38 people participated in our COVID-19 rapid response Phonetree, we held 11 virtual workshops, supporting over 100 community members to identify our needs, ask for help, and set boundaries. Mutual Aid: 25 people involved in our mutual aid project–providing cooked meals, delivering necessities, and checking in with folks. “Organizing and being in the Dragon Fruit Network workshops helps me to practice emotional vulnerability, taking off the armor that many in my generation have carried around from years of gay oppression and the AIDS pandemic. –Steve Lew, Dragon Fruit Network
Image description: Dragon Fruit Project & Network highlights over blue background. Along with the text are graphics of a complex molecule, a cooked meal being prepared, and a circular photo of Steve Lew.
Trans Justice. Up To Us: Launched the first-ever report on the needs of TGNC APIs in the Bay Area, having surveyed more than 180 respondents over 2 years. Committee Leadership: Our committee doubled this year, to 16 consistent members who led our Trans Justice work and needs assessment research process. “Trans people were not just passive subjects of the TGNC Needs Assessment project. We were leading this work and learning the skills we need to research our community’s needs and build solutions to respond to them. When trans people work together, we’re able to transform ourselves and the world around us. –T, Trans Justice Committee
Image description: Trans Justice highlights over green background. There is a group photo of TGNC API people holding up a banner with fists raised toward the top, a group selfie of Trans Justice Committee members smiling indoors, and a circular photo of T.
Fundraising & Growing Our Power. We raised over $130,000 from 739 donors! 40 new members expressed interest in joining APIENC. 855 people attended events this year. 3 new Core members welcomed. 171 members engaged in election-prep & political education. 100 hours of audio recorded as part of the upcoming Dragon Fruit Podcast. 3 successful grassroots fundraising campaigns.
Image description: Highlights from APIENC’s Fundraising & Growing Our Power over a red background. There is an APIENC logo in the top left corner and big bold text that reads: “We raised over $130,000 from 739 donors!”

Now, in 2021, we must boldly continue down this same path. At every level of the organization, we’ve spent the last year digging deep and sharpening  our understanding of how to respond to crisis through community care. We’ve grown our vision, re-established our place within a broader movement ecosystem, and called on our ancestors to help us dream about a world beyond the confines of our present-day political reality.

The work we do in the next year cannot be rooted in self-limiting beliefs about what we assume is politically realistic. The right has constantly utilized their power to make outlandish ideas, like storming the Capitol Building armed with guns, tasers, and zip-ties, not even realistic, but real. It is necessary for us to grow our skills of connection and curiosity so that we can create solutions and realities that pull us into a deeper and more powerful humanity with one another. We will practice rigorous imagination so that we do not allow ourselves to fall short of what futures are possible.

Highlights. Member Assembly: For the first time, 50 members gathered across APIENC’s committees to build organizational unity. Community Safety: Uplifted histories of alternatives to policing with 60 participants at the Trans March Community Safety Workshop. Up Next In 2021: Premiering the Dragon Fruit Project Podcast, Publishing our Membership Development Framework, Launching our new 5-year Priorities & Directions.
Image description: APIENC’s highlights and what is coming up next in 2021. The APIENC logo is in the top left corner, two Zoom selfies, and graphics of a microphone, leafy branch, and a “5” with an arrow next to it.

As we reflect on 2020 and prepare to share our plans for 2021, I’m grateful for the work of organizers throughout generations. I’m grateful for Black leadership in Georgia and throughout the South; I’m grateful for our queer elders that share learnings from the HIV/AIDS crisis; and I’m grateful for our ancestors that constantly resisted colonialism and domination. We do our work within this legacy, and there is so much more work to be done. 

With love and in solidarity,
Sammie Ablaza Wills