Ryan Yokota

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Ryan Yokota Adjunct Instructor at DePaul University, Bessie Pierce Prize Preceptorship at The University of Chicago and Legacy Center Manager at JASC - Japanese American Service Committee.

Asian Left Forum

The Asian Left Forum (ALF) represented the first nationwide meeting of veteran and newer Asian American Leftists in the past couple of decades. Held on May 17, 1998, in Los Angeles, following the "Serve the People" conference on Asian American community activism, this all-day, non-sectarian meeting brought together about 100 activists, double the anticipated attendance, to "strategize radical politics in Asian communities in the United States," with a focus on the struggles of working-class immigrant communities. The ALF called for Asian American Leftists, radicals, and revolutionaries to unite, and its principles of unity identified global capitalism, imperialism, racism, patriarchal domination, and heterosexism as the root causes of oppression. Still, the forum itself focused on a progressive-to-radical agenda. Local chapters in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York have, to varying degrees, continued the work, organizing forums on anti-imperialist struggles in Asia, including Okinawa, Korea, the Philippines, East Timor, and Burma; the Kosovo war; the prison industrial complex; and the role of electoral politics in revolutionary organizing. While the ALF is comprised of diverse membership in terms of age, activist experience, political ideology, gender, ethnic background, and geographic location, the active core is predominantly twenty-something. Jung Hee Choi, Alyssa Kang, Sun Lee, Eric Tang, and Ryan Yokota sat on the National Planning Committee. A second national meeting was planned for early 2000. [1]

ACTION

ACTION, the Asian Pacific Islander Collective to Initiate Opportunities Now!, formed in 1995 to focus on Asian American youth organizing in Los Angeles, primarily through cultural-political work. Under the leadership of founder Jason Nawa as well as Tracy Kiriyama, Sunny Le, and Ryan Yokota, ACTION became an organizing space for recent college graduates, college students, and high school students. The group functions with a non-hierarchical, collective structure, with an emphasis on developing leadership skills, raising political consciousness, and building a group culture and personal relationships among members.

Its radical ideology is reflected in its Principles of Unity, which include community control of institutions; opposition to global capitalism, racism, sexism, and heterosexism; and basic human rights for a people. Through their two Art Attacks, the group used cultural-political work to outreach to youth and publicize community issues. In conjunction with the 1960s and 70s Asian American Movement group, Yellow Brotherhood, ACTION started a tutorial project at Culver City High School, which has served to provide concrete services as well as to fink the youth to the previous generation of activists. While initially located in Little Tokyo, ACTION soon became pan-Asian in membership; about half its members are women.[2]

Asian radicals

In March 2000, Azine published "Radical Resistance in Conservative Times: New Asian American Organizations" in the 1990s by Diane Fujino and Kye Leung. Five groups were profiled: Asians and Pacific Islanders for Community Empowerment, ASIAN!, ACTION, Asian Left Forum, and the Asian Revolutionary Circle.

We are grateful to the following people for providing interviews, information, and materials about their organizations: Betty Chan, Caroline Choi, Sumaya Dinglasan, George Iechika-McKinney, Don Kim, Nadia Kim, Soudary Kittivong, Sun Lee, Meizhu Lui, Daniel Magpali, Mo Nishida, Robyn Rodriguez, Jee Ryu, Eric Tang, and Ryan Yokota.

References