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Apply for the 2014 Summer Internship with API Equality-Northern California!

2013 summer interns

API Equality-Northern California (APIENC) was founded in 2004 in response to rallies organized against marriage equality in the San Francisco Bay Area. Today APIENC works as a multi-issue organization that actively promotes equality and justice for the state’s API and LGBTQ communities.

Applications for the 2014 summer internship at APIENC are now being accepted until March 15, 2014. Interviews will be conducted April 15, and selected interns will be notified by April 22.

Find the application HERE, and more details on the internship HERE.

What Seth Rosenfeld Will Never Know About Richard Aoki

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOWR3ArCEqI&w=640&h=360]

I recognized two faces in this video: those of Richard Aoki and Harvey Dong. Both of these men have been highly visible in the API community through their work as Berkeley alumni, activists, and educators. Both took part in the 1969 third world Liberation Front protest movements that formed at Cal and San Francisco State University, and as a student of Harvey’s last spring semester, I benefited from the sacrifices former students had made in the struggle to build ethnic studies programs.

Before I came to Berkeley, I knew nothing about the struggle to establish academic departments that focused on the history of minorities. Only in Asian American Studies 20B did I learn more in-depth how the “passive” community stood up to voice its demands for public education and social justice, and I am inspired the experience that Harvey brings to his work.

Although I only heard about Richard Aoki long after his death in 2009, the contributions he had made as a student leader in the face of extreme opposition marked him as someone I could relate to after I being involved in the Occupy Cal protest last year. Now, with journalist Seth Rosenfeld claiming in his book Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power that Aoki was a paid FBI informant, I am at a loss as to what I still believe. In this time of doubt over Aoki’s true identity, I know that the community has not wavered in its response to Rosenfeld’s findings, and Ethnic Studies students at Berkeley especially have a stake in the ongoing debate.

From what I saw with members of hardboiled at the event hosted by the Graduate School of Journalism on Wednesday, September 19, Rosenfeld stuck to the facts as he presented them, without offering much room for opinion. He seemed confident in his knowledge of Aoki’s history and career.

I would like to ignore the fact that he initially ignored me when I approached him after the conversation, shaking his hand and smiling as I introduced myself. What I will not ignore is that the same journalist who tirelessly pursued five lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act was never able to conduct more than two telephone interviews with Aoki, none in person. In response to my question on whether Aoki’s condition prevented him from meeting with Rosenfeld one-on-one, Rosenfeld said, “I don’t know.” I guess that as long as Aoki was alive, Rosenfeld could do little with the cryptic responses he was able to draw out. Granted, Rosenfeld deserves credit for doing the research and analysis, but ultimately his statement of Aoki leaves much to the imagination. Why include Aoki in the book if no concrete, comprehensive data shows what type of information he passed on (if he did work as an informant) to the FBI?

Much remains to be uncovered in the Richard Aoki case, but for those who have known him as a friend, leader, and role model, his standing in the API community will continue to be upheld, even as his right to privacy has diminished.

More than a feeling

The moment I found out, I had been in class for less than 15 minutes, most of which I had spent trying to sort through my feelings for someone I recently met. I could not decide whether I liked him or merely felt interested in him, if these could even be separate ideas. Then a thought at the back of my mind, one that had been growing for months, made all my other ones collapse. My senses caved in and I began to cry silently, not out of shame but utter relief that I no longer had to question my bisexuality.

All that took place a few months ago, and since then I have told a close circle of friends who respect my choice. Yet I still doubt myself. What experience am I drawing from if I have never dated anyone, if at times I feel utterly straight and other times completely doubtful? I worry that I will be sexually involved with men only and romantically involved with women only, but never a stable relationship with one person. I worry whether I should just identify as straight, because I grew up that way and everyone in my family lives that way. I worry about what people will think when they hear. After I confided to one of my friends, she responded, “You know I’m straight, right?” Joining a handful of Asian American organizations has given me more opportunities to express myself and better understand the queer community, but I still feel frustrated. I know I speak with privilege, as someone who can pass as heterosexual in most cases without effort, but I lack confidence in the queer space, where I feel inhibited from joining conversations on sex. The pressures to appeal to the opposite gender and the same gender play tug-of-war inside me, but more and more I tire of the mind games.

From being an Asian American Studies major, I have learned to think from both the view of the oppressed and the oppressor. From being a woman, I have learned firsthand the psychological damage that comes from an unhealthy relationship with someone much older. Throughout my privileged life, I have had to learn the hard way, and as painful as the hard way is, I would rather live with the burden of truth than ignorance. For me, truth means acknowledging that I do not know everything about myself or the people closest to me, that my identity does not belong to me only but can also be shared openly with others, sometimes violated by them. Knowing the truth only means understanding vulnerability, seeing only how my perception of reality has invisible but direct consequences on myself and others around me. One’s sexual orientation makes up just one part of a complex identity that includes class, culture, education, ethnicity, family ties, gender, nationality, political views, religious affiliation, and social status. In a sense, truth only shows me how little I know of the world, that it functions not as a static entity but an ever-expanding perspective that grows along with the individual.

Truth has taught me to question feelings, because the person who says “I love you” but fails to show it could hurt me more than the people who hurt me only because they care about me.

sorry, it's just emotion that's taking me over

I have always relied on the strength of my emotions to guide me through social interactions with family, close friends, and acquaintances, but of course all too often I mislead myself into tense situations. With bisexuality, I have yet to claim it fully as my own, if I can ever feel as safe saying it as I do with “Asian American.” All I can hope for is time, enough for me to realize my identity as more than a feeling, but a belief that others can connect with openly.