Category Archives: Opinion

OPINION: Resistance and the Interior Revolution

by John Helmiere


If you are obsessively scanning the headlines, refreshing the polls, checking your phone, or doom-scrolling through social media, then this essay is for you. With the 2020 election upon us, cyclones of anxiety are raging across our interior landscapes as we are besieged by ghastly visions of a dystopic tomorrow. 

Continue reading OPINION: Resistance and the Interior Revolution

OPINION: Beware the Bootleg Rolex (A Response to Mayor Durkan’s $100 Million Proposal for BIPOC Communities)

by Sean Goode


When I was 16 years old, I bought a fake Rolex. I remember the evening clearly: the gas station where I was, the man who approached, and the $50 I gave him in exchange for what I thought was a priceless timepiece. I also remember the shame I felt when I brought it to the jeweler, who, much to their credit, held back a smile as they saw the disappointment on my face when they told me it wasn’t real. I desperately wanted to believe that the watch was real and the story that man told me was true. 

Continue reading OPINION: Beware the Bootleg Rolex (A Response to Mayor Durkan’s $100 Million Proposal for BIPOC Communities)

OPINION: May Day 2020: People Must Be Put Before Profits, Every Human Is Essential

by COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network


May Day arose as a day to celebrate the working class and our life and death struggles for liberation. We honor that legacy of resistance and solidarity today. 

We are facing an unprecedented situation in the history of workers’ struggles and the racial capitalist system of exploitation and expropriation. Amidst the chaos of COVID-19, the rich continue to prioritize profit, private property and control over our bodies and labor. The police and military surveil and criminalize our acts of resistance. They will gladly sacrifice human life to continue the relentless pursuit of profit.  

Continue reading OPINION: May Day 2020: People Must Be Put Before Profits, Every Human Is Essential

OPINION: “Lessons Learned” Hide the South Vietnamese Perspective

On this 45th anniversary of the twelve-year war waged in Vietnam, we’re presenting voices from those belonging to the community most impacted by the war, and who remain an integral part of our city — Vietnamese Americans. Locally, the Vietnamese community has created a thriving Little Saigon in what were once abandoned and dilapidated buildings around Seattle’s 12th and Jackson. 

They have also built businesses and homes that helped revive the White Center neighborhood. Because of the generous sharing of their culture and cuisine, every high school student knows that a banh mi is a great after-school snack, and pho has become a household word. 

The Vietnamese community continues to touch every aspect of our society, from artists, composers and writers to doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and all walks of life. In the past few days, the War has been mentioned only in the context of the deaths from the coronavirus surpassing the number of American deaths in Vietnam.
 
To reflect upon the past and contemplate the future, we share two voices from local second-generation Vietnamese Americans who have distinguished themselves in their work and community volunteer efforts — and who bring their unique perspectives on a war with ongoing repercussions: State Senator of the 34th District, Joe Nguyen, and longtime journalist and Vice President of Community Engagement & Marketing for the Washington Technology Industry Association, Julie Pham.

by Julie Pham


It’s April 30, and this year marks the 45th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Typically, this anniversary invites a flurry of opinions on “lessons learned” from the Vietnam War (just Google it and you’ll see what I mean) coupled with how those lessons should be applied to whatever foreign military, political, diplomatic situation the U.S. is currently mired in.

As a trained historian, I object to the practice of extracting “lessons” from history as if it’s possible they will keep us from sacrificing future lives and wreckage. Wars are not the result of faulty human strategy. Wars exist to challenge excess and unchecked ugliness within humans. It’s too easy — and arguably manipulative — to see a “failed” venture in hindsight and say, “we should have known better.” We live to learn from our failures. 

Continue reading OPINION: “Lessons Learned” Hide the South Vietnamese Perspective

45 Years After the Fall of Saigon: A Coming of Age

On this 45th anniversary of the twelve-year war waged in Vietnam, we’re presenting voices from those belonging to the community most impacted by the war, and who remain an integral part of our city — Vietnamese Americans. Locally, the Vietnamese community has created a thriving Little Saigon in what were once abandoned and dilapidated buildings around Seattle’s 12th and Jackson. 

They have also built businesses and homes that helped revive the White Center neighborhood. Because of the generous sharing of their culture and cuisine, every high school student knows that a banh mi is a great after-school snack, and pho has become a household word. 

The Vietnamese community continues to touch every aspect of our society, from artists, composers and writers to doctors, nurses and other health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and all walks of life. In the past few days, the War has been mentioned only in the context of the deaths from the coronavirus surpassing the number of American deaths in Vietnam.
 
To reflect upon the past and contemplate the future, we share two voices from local second-generation Vietnamese Americans who have distinguished themselves in their work and community volunteer efforts — and who bring their unique perspectives on a war with ongoing repercussions: State Senator of the 34th District, Joe Nguyen, and longtime journalist and Vice President of Community Engagement & Marketing for the Washington Technology Industry Association, Julie Pham.

by Joe Nguyen


In the past week the Vietnam War has been making headlines here in the United States, but not because it is the 45th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. In just a few short months, the American death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic has now surpassed that of a war that spanned nearly two decades.

Continue reading 45 Years After the Fall of Saigon: A Coming of Age

OPINION: The Immigration Smokescreen

by Rich Stolz


We are living in an unprecedented crisis. We know this moment calls on all of us to go all in for all of us so that we can all be safe and healthy. And we also know that COVID-19 is harming black and brown communities, including immigrants, at higher rates, due to deep underlying inequities in our society. 

An unprecedented crisis calls for competent leadership, especially in the White House. Unfortunately, that’s something we don’t have. A confusing and confused response to the pandemic has made the crisis worse, and the president is agitating for states to reopen their economies in a manner that contradicts his own talking points. 

Enter the immigration ban.

Anyone who uses this health crisis to divide Americans and scapegoat immigrants undermines everything we need to do to keep each other safe in the face of this pandemic. Politicians like Donald Trump are blowing a smokescreen to divert attention from their own failures by whipping up resentment and fear of immigrants, scapegoating our communities with xenophobic attacks. Unfortunately, these policies have real consequences.

The new ‘immigration ban’ signed by the president last week restricts immigrant visas and green cards to folks abroad who wish to immigrate to the U.S. The ban is initially set for 60 days, and it may be extended. This ban on legal immigration follows on the administration’s decision to halt refugee resettlement earlier in the crisis. And it follows on three years of policy changes that have eviscerated our asylum system.

There are some exceptions to the ban, including spouses and children of U.S. Citizens, physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals and wealthy immigrant investors. But that’s no solace for the tens of thousands U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are separated from their loved ones overseas and must now put their plans to reunite their families on hold.

The administration’s stated reason for the ban is to reduce strain to the healthcare market, protect the American worker, and to help folks retain their jobs, especially African Americans, the disabled, and lower income workers at the margins. But we know that’s a false narrative.

Immigration hardliners, nativists and xenophobes are using this crisis to enact policies they’ve sought to implement for years, and the president is seeking to shore up support in his nativist base to counter his falling poll numbers. Once again, Trump is attempting to divide black and brown voters and voters on the margin against immigrants by recycling age-old stereotypes about immigrants stealing jobs. But that’s not true, and jobs are not a zero-sum game. Adding new residents to our country creates jobs, and economic models show that time and again. The rampant inequality that Trump’s policies are fueling is what’s keeping communities down. 

The very people that Trump is now excluding are the same people serving all of us as “essential workers.” It’s a loaded term. Many of them are immigrant and native-born workers, typically working on an hourly basis or in the fields, in warehouses or in grocery stores. Because they can’t afford not to work, they are risking exposure to COVID-19 in order to minimize the impact of the crisis on those of us who can work from home. These workers are the frontline heroes we need right now, and it’s up to us to make sure we have their back.

Let’s make sure we don’t fall for the smokescreen. This is a time to come together across the differences too often used to divide us. We all need to stay healthy and safe. We all need to call blatantly racist and xenophobic attacks on our communities what they are when we see them. We will need each other to make it through the economic crisis we’re in. And we’ll need to draw on all of us to muster the vision we’ll need to shape a recovery toward a more resilient, more equitable economy.


Rich Stolz has been OneAmerica’s executive director since 2012. Born in Seoul, South Korea, he understands the need to organize, advocate and engage on behalf of immigrants and their families. He has dedicated his career to social justice and immigrant rights and was honored by President Obama as a Cesar Chavez Champion for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rstolz11.

Featured image: Alisdare Hickson (licensed by Creative Commons)

OPINION: New Federal Stimulus Package Isn’t Enough to Support Our Communities

by Liz Olson and Emily Vyhnanek, Washington State Budget & Policy Center

(This was originally published as a statement by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center.) 


Last week, Congress approved a $484 billion relief bill, the fourth federal package since the start of the COVID- 19 crisis. While hospitals and small businesses need every dollar provided by this legislation, the package provides no funding for states and doesn’t do enough to deliver the full relief Washington communities urgently need. 

Continue reading OPINION: New Federal Stimulus Package Isn’t Enough to Support Our Communities

OPINION: Washington Finally Mandated Sex-Ed, Now We Have to Fight to Keep It

by Sarah Muir


Last month, the Washington State legislature passed mandatory comprehensive sex ed [sexual education] aka SB 5395. I strongly support the passage of this bill. It is long overdue that we mandate LGBTQIA+ representation and consent in all sex education curricula in all Washington public schools. 

Continue reading OPINION: Washington Finally Mandated Sex-Ed, Now We Have to Fight to Keep It

OPINION: Toxic Prisons are the Reality of the Injustice System

by Villainus

We live in a dangerous world. People leave the house in fear, in fear of the world outside. The crime, the robberies, the rape, the murder. In these grim streets with piss stained alleys, they see danger around every corner. Those fears are what make the world dangerous; in the name of protection many children have been slain. All in the name of the injustice system, all in the name of public safety, but is the public safe?

Continue reading OPINION: Toxic Prisons are the Reality of the Injustice System

OPINION: Hiding Behind the Frontlines and the Reality of Leadership

by Villainus

Over my time traveling through the South I’ve been blessed with a plethora of experience. I have been able to see different realities and lives that where both extremely different and astonishingly similar. This has given me time to reflect on how we as activists and as a society view reality. Who is made invisible? Unlike the identity politics of today, my travels have deepened my understanding of our oppression and our struggle for liberation.

Continue reading OPINION: Hiding Behind the Frontlines and the Reality of Leadership