Jul 18, 2022
If you are despairing about the rise of racial hatred and the anti-democratic direction this country is embracing, consider what it takes to build a more just future. For marginalized communities, nonprofit organizations are essential to becoming visible, attaining legal rights, and exercising electoral clout. Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California exemplifies how organizational expertise, vision, and infrastructure make systemic change achievable. Led brilliantly by Connie Chung Joe, AAAJ SoCal was founded by civil rights titan Stewart Kwoh following the 1983 murder of Chinese American autoworker Vincent Chin by aggrieved white co-workers. Since then, it has evolved into the nation’s largest legal aid and civil rights organization serving Asian Americans. A conversation with Connie Chung Joe is a masterclass in how to implement a multi-layered strategy. The agenda includes direct services to community members facing eviction, bystander intervention training in response to rising hate crimes, advocating to end transfers from prison to deportation by ICE and expanding accreditation of Asian American teachers. Connie grounds her leadership in a deep commitment to racial equity for all communities of color. In the majority minority state of California, she is fortifying a new playing field.