Recently, we were invited to co-host the first ever Lunar New Year reception at the Vice-President’s Residence. The reception was a wonderful event with many representatives from the Asian American community and elected and appointed government officials in attendance. It was certainly an honor, and special for the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) to be able to serve as co-hosts. You might even be asking, why JACL would have been involved in such an event; Japanese Americans generally celebrate New Year January 1, not in concurrence with the lunar calendar.
Our participation in the reception was a result of invitation from the Committee of 100, one of our community partners from the Chinese American community. This partnership was strengthened last year when I, along with Committee of 100 president Zheng Huang and other Asian American community leaders, participated in a study trip to Israel sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
I share all this because without the relationships with the Committee of 100 or AJC, we would have likely never been a part of the Vice President’s reception at the level we were able to participate. This value of collaboration and cooperation is one that runs deeply through all JACL and USJC members. We all understand how important it is to foster these relationships to be greater together than we would be on our own.
Our Japanese American community looks back 35 years this year to the passage of redress, which would have been impossible without support from the Jewish, Black and other allied communities. Over the past three years, our Asian American community has truly come to understand the power of coalition as we have all fought to combat the rise of anti-Asian hate, again with support from other communities. Partnerships such as with the Committee of 100 will be even more important as we see rising initiatives in some states to ban property ownership by Chinese nationals or the overt questioning of the loyalties of Chinese American business leaders and even members of Congress.
As a result of our many ways of working together, I hope that there will be many more opportunities for JACL and USJC members to share in special experiences such as the reception at the Vice President’s residence. More importantly, we will need to find the ways we can work together to protect and uplift one another and our other community partners in the face of ongoing xenophobia, racism and other forms of hate that persist despite our best efforts.
Thank you to David Inoue (Japanese American Citizens League, JALD ’18) for the above content and photos!