Aug 19, 2019
As Sookyung Oh explains on Power Station, Annandale, Virginia is much more than a destination spot for Korean BBQ and Pho. It is a gateway community for Korean and Vietnamese Americans and, increasingly, for a new wave of Caribbean and African immigrants. Sookyung leads NAKASEC (National Korean American Service and Education Consortium) a grassroots organization with a national presence and affiliate offices in Los Angeles and Orange County, California and Chicago, Illinois. NAKASEC’s mission in Virginia is laser-focused on building power so that the community has the ability to shapes its own circumstances. This mission is particularly meaningful for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, which sometimes feels invisible to the broader public. So, how does NAKASEC build power? Its strategy rests on organizing and its message is resonating. A small staff and a dedicated corps of young Korean American and Vietnamese American organizers, from local high schools and colleges, canvass neighborhoods and engage in one-on-one conversations with community members. They ask questions to gauge which issues are animating the community and then draw them into a larger organizational conversation. Here’s what NAKASEC is hearing from their constituents. Legal permanent residents are absorbing hateful rhetoric and policies by the Trump Administration and fear deportation. An uncertain future for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is generating collaboration across sectors and social justice organizations. And young people are reconsidering their attitudes about voting and are committing to participate in the 2020 elections.
Sookyung is right when she describes NAKASEC as an organization with a small staff that punches above its weight. NAKASEC is where communities are gaining their voice and change is being made. Listen and learn about power in action.