Our Director of Organizing Grace Pai had the opportunity to participate in ABC7’s town hall series, Our Chicago: Voices of the Community. She discussed with fellow female community members the impact of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ historic win, and what we hope she can do for immigrant communities and communities of color.
Speaking about the importance of the diversity of Biden-Harris cabinet:
“I think it’s critically important who makes up the cabinet and to make sure it reflects the full diversity of the United States. I think even more important are the values that people bring into the administration. We have seen the disastrous effects of the current administration and the cabinet he has implemented. They have done everything they can to enact racist policies to demonize immigrants and make it harder to access the care and support they need even in a global pandemic. We have the opportunity to make meaningful changes in people lives, whether they got laid off because of COVID-19, or they’re an immigrant separated by their family because of the long overdue reforms that are needed, or whether they are living in fear because they are undocumented, or they have a family member who’s an essential worker and facing this fear of contracting covid every day. There are so many opportunities to make a real impact in people’s lives through bold policies that will uplift our communities and I would love to see the Biden administration with the leadership of Vice President-elect Harris go to bat in the same way we’ve seen the Trump administration go for the opposite values.”
Speaking about the potential of the next generation to create change:
“I think our communities as minorities have been siloed from each other. We have been taught that our interests are different. I think one thing we’ve been seeing from young people that is so hopeful and amazing is that people are seeing their common interests more, whether they are going into the streets together to fight for racial justice and racial equity, or they’re throwing down in schools together to advocate for the resources that they need. We see so many examples of that collaboration and solidarity between young people, and I think that’s amazing because we have so much more in common than what separates us. And for us to continue breaking barriers and create systemic lasting changes that will continue to benefit future generations, we will only be able to accomplish that together. If it’s just Asians in one corner fighting for things that impact Asian Americans, that’s not good enough. We need to build those bridges. Just one example of that intersectionality is one of the things that Advancing Justice works on, which is immigrant rights. On the federal level we’ve seen the president’s administration put out these racist immigration bans which have impacted Muslim communities but also African immigrant communities and refugee communities. And when we look at where these communities are coming from around the world, they are definitely communities of color, but they definitely impact Black communities like they impact Latinx and Asian communities. When we’re fighting for reforms, whether it’s to get rid of these racist bans or advocate for family reunification in our immigration system, we need to bring that intersectional lens to make sure we’re thinking of Black immigrants and Arab immigrants and all these different communities that may not otherwise be in the spotlight or that might not be covered with the same attention. I’m hopeful about what’s happening.”
Speaking about the takeaways she has from this election:
“Empathy and compassion. The thing that I’ve really taken from the Vice President elect’s story is how much her life experience and the impact of the people around her and her loved ones and the people who raised her and how that has informed her perspective. For her to have empathy for other people in other positions and that’s what I’m going to take with me in my leadership.”