by Hailey Wu
Around election season, I spend most of my time doing voter education, hosting ballot parties, and organizing candidate forums. Most of our clients at Asian Counseling and Referral Service are elderly immigrants and refugees, so the rooms are always full of people speaking Cantonese, Mandarin, Lao, and more. Everyone is excited to hear the explanation of the initiatives, talk about the candidates, and get their ballots cast.
However, our participants have always struggled to understand the “advisory votes,” those questions that ask if we want to maintain or repeal various tax laws. I would always tell our clients to skip them. Although it was unclear to most voters, advisory votes actually never had any power to change our laws. We needed to save our workshop time to discuss the votes that actually made a change in our community.
Continue reading OPINION | The End of Advisory Votes Is a Victory for Immigrant and New Voters
by Amanda Ong
For the past seven years, the Somali Family Safety Task Force, which is based out of New Holly, where a significant portion of the Somali community lives, has been providing Somali and other East African families with resources around career, education, and personal development. What many people don’t know is that the Task Force is just as invested in preserving connections to Somali language and culture. Since 2017, they have published eight books aimed at Somali American families to practice reading and writing in Somali. The latest five Somali/English bilingual children’s storybooks, which had their book launch in January, were created by the Task Force with the support of Best Starts for Kids.
by Kamna Shastri
Throughout my life I’ve looked for stories that mirror my experience as the child of immigrants and as a South Asian American. The narratives I found featured the young adult who wants to distance themselves from their heritage to blend in with their white, American peers. I never connected with those stories as a child.
My childhood, embedded in nostalgia as it might be, is rooted in the cadence of the Tamil language, the music of A.R. Rahman, Friday night Bollywood movies rented from the only Indian store in town. I think fondly of community gatherings in living rooms filled with families dressed in the sarees and salwars that rarely saw the light of day except on such special occasions.
I’ve been told the language I use to talk about my Indian American experience is sticky-sweet with nostalgia. But those words and descriptions are real to me. My memories of being an American child are synonymous with being Indian.
Continue reading OPINION: Grounded in the Waves