Sally Matsuishi

The post that started it all:

Within the last 12 hours, I have received many texts and emails filled with anguish and fear. Last night, I struggled to pinpoint how I was feeling. Today, I rise ready to fight.

I remember the blood that courses in my veins and the world I have seen. I am a fifth generation woman of color in America. I come from a long line of activists and survivors who organized their community in internment camp, rose from the ashes in Hiroshima, took on the federal government and won Redress and simply fought hard every day to raise themselves out of poverty in the face of seemingly insurmountable racial hatred and misogyny. I think of what I see every day in the Next Generation Scholars community – Young Latinx youth rising to fight for the right to women’s healthcare and the end of rape culture; out, proud Asian youth leading the LGBTQ+ community; young Black fists raised in the air demanding that the world recognize their humanity and value their lives; and young Muslims, strong in their faith, displaying the true spirit of Islam. This is who we were yesterday and this is who we are today. The only difference is starting today we must be more vocal, we must push harder, we must stand stronger and we must remember those who came before us, and those who will come after. The fight is in our hands. No one knows how to do this better than us because it is in our blood.

So

No, the center will not be closed today.
No, I am not going to spend the day at home.
No, I will not allow the new leadership to threaten or destroy all that we have built.

This is what will happen today, tomorrow, for the next four years, and forever after.

We will protect our undocumented family.
We will demand and secure the rights of our LGBTQ+ family.
We will defend the humanity of our black brothers and sisters.
We will protect the religious freedom of our Muslim family.
We will defend the rights of our sisters to control our own bodies, to be free from harm and to be valued equally.

In short, today, the Next Generation Scholars family is stronger than ever, undaunted, unbowed, unafraid.

Today, WE WILL RISE. TOGETHER.

What will you do?

#todayiwill

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Johny Ek

“We are here and we are not going anywhere!”
Those are the words of my immigrant father, despite all the fear and anger in his heart today, he continues to stand strong for me and my family. He and my mother have worked their whole lives to ensure that I could achieve what they can only dream of.

I’m sitting on the train on my way to a job interview in Los Angeles. I’m wearing shoes purchased by my father, who upon looking at the price, said don’t worry one day they’ll pay for themselves. I’m wearing a dress shirt and a tie that my mom purchased saying don’t worry about the price we’ll figure out a way to cover the costs. I’m wearing a jacket a friend let me borrow as I cannot afford my own yet. I’m holding a resume that says Pomona College in bold letters thanks to the help of Next Generation Scholars and Sally Chiyo Matsuishi who spent countless hours mentoring and preparing me to become the first in my family to go to college.

Remembering these moments reminds me that we have come too far to stop rising now.

So

No, I will not run away.
No, I will not hide in isolation.
No, I will not stop fighting for justice.

I will wipe my tears.
I will stand strong.
I will continue.

This is what will happen today and forever:

We will support our struggling brother, sisters, mothers, and fathers.
We will believe in the potential of every person.
We will value the voice of those who are different.

In short, today, the Next Generation Scholars family is stronger than ever, undaunted, unbowed, unafraid.

Today, WE WILL RISE TOGETHER.

What will YOU do?

#todayiwill

Andrew Zingg

In the days leading up to the election, I was excited. I couldn’t wait for Trump’s resounding defeat — as if a Clinton victory could push the disgusting racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and bigoted rhetoric of the past eighteen months conveniently out of view. When friends asked about my expectations for the election, I said I wasn’t even entertaining the possibility of a Trump presidency. I thought that this was a legitimate place of opposition, that by thinking Trump’s campaign had no chance, I could magically defang it.

Last Tuesday, I learned I was living in an enormous bubble. It was a bubble that had extended beyond my circle of friends and my left-leaning communities on the west coast to include all the major national polls, which had Clinton’s prospects hovering around 85% on Election Day. As the returns began to stream in Tuesday evening, I first felt shocked. Then, I felt ashamed. In truth, the results of this election did not come out of nowhere; they reinforced a reality that activists of color and LGBTQ+ activists have been speaking to since long before the Trump campaign began.

A common narrative about Trump’s victory is that it signaled a working class revolt. But how can that be when Trump lost voters with annual incomes of under $30K and $50K and won voters making more than $100K, $200K, and $250K? The demographic that Trump won was not the working class. It was white people. He won white men, and he won white women. He won white college graduates and whites with no degree. He won white millennials, white gen-xers, white baby boomers, and whites of “the silent generation.” Which is to say Trump voters are not just working class whites from distant corners of the rust and bible belts; they are also over-privileged whites, probably not too different from those of my native Marin County.

What do I do with this information, as a white man who is friends with people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ folks, women?

It’s a grave injustice, but across the U.S., my voice is valued more than most others. Even though I’m just twenty-six, a graduate student at the bottom of the professional totem pole, by virtue of my race, class, gender and sexuality, I am almost always given the benefit of the doubt, almost always assumed to speak with credibility. As a result, I can walk easily in white-dominated spaces, even among those who hold strong ideological differences with me. It is my job, then, to stand up to the hatred and bigotry that Trump propagated and that now festers, emboldened, all over the U.S. White people created this monster, so it’s our responsibility to stop it.

Today, I look to foster a space for my friends and students to scream, cry, converse, and strategize. I’m here to listen and learn how to best support them.

I will use my voice to stand up to racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, religious persecution, and bigotry in all its forms.

I will work to dismantle those spaces that uphold my white male privilege.

Today, the Next Generation Scholars family is stronger than ever, undaunted, unbowed, unafraid.
Today, we will rise together.

What will you do?

#todayiwill

Betsaida Dimas

Anxiety, frustration, disappointment, hopeless, anger, and sadness are just a few of the emotions I have felt the last few days. I wonder what will happen to the undocumented people in my life who are working hard EVERY DAY for a better life for themselves and their families. I wonder what will happen to the LGBTQ people in my life who have to worry about being true to their identity or worry about losing their right to get married. I wonder what will happen to the brown and black people in my life who worry about being targets of hate crimes every time they step out of their homes. I wonder what will happen to the Muslim people in my life who have to be careful about where they practice their religion.

Today I rise and am ready to advocate for all communities, my family and myself. I will not let this fear get in the way of me supporting my community.

So today I will keep pushing for justice.
I will be unapologetic for my actions.
I will stand strong and in solidarity with my peers.
I will not tame my tongue to make others feel comfortable.
I will not let these conversations die out and be forgotten.
I will continue to educate myself and those around me so we can continue to move forward.

Today, we WILL rise together.

What will you do?

#todayIwill

Gina Dalma

What Gives Me Hope

This past Tuesday was a nightmare for many of us. It made clear that the ugly forces of bigotry, oppression, racism and misogyny are alive and well in our country – and to levels that we thought were a thing of the past. I feel hazy. I feel defeated. I feel lost. As a mom I struggle to explain this result to my children, to other young people.

I know that now, more than ever, we need to gather our energy, our resolve and fight harder than we ever did. What gives me hope? Young people give me hope. You give me hope. After reading your blogs, I have renewed my resolve.

I commit to do everything in my power to make your world a better place – but knowing that the future is in your hands, lets me breathe a little easier.

Today I will share with all my friends and family your blog as I know it will keep others going as it did me.

#todayIwill

Jeremy Durfee

I certainly do not have the activist credentials of Sally Chiyo Matsuishi, or the success in creating such positive change as she has done at NGS. My first ancestors arrived in the US more than 350 years ago, and being white, they had no problem being fit in to the US systems. As far as I know, every one of my aunts and uncles went through college, and my Durfee grandparents both graduated from Stanford at the turn of the last century. So, basically, I never had to fight for basic rights and opportunities. College was just something Durfees did.

But in the 60s the war in Vietnam was one of the factors that woke me up to the problems others faced and the unfairness that power assumes. I contemplated going to jail or Canada rather than serving in the military in such an unjust war. I demonstrated when and where I could. I admired and supported those who took bolder steps. Happily, I received great support from my entire family for my actions and positions. Again, I was fortunate. A complex legal case (not involving bone spurs) and then the lottery freed me from military service.

And time has clearly shown that those who opposed that war were entirely correct in their actions and behavior. We were right about Vietnam … we were right about Iraq, … we are right about Trump. But it is hard to wait years and years and to watch such wastes of death and destruction and pain for those without power to find their own chance at freedom and liberty. And I don’t know that I have years and years anymore.

So what will I do?

Among other things, I will continue to show up at NGS as long as I am wanted there.

I will do my best to help students along their paths with math skills and encouragement, … love and support for who they are and their importance to this world.

I will continue to be amazed at and proud of the growth and potential and power of such students as Johny Ek and Marcela Mendez and the rest of the incredible students at NGS.

I will continue to honor Sally Chiyo Matsuishi and the wonderful staff at NGS for their gifts to this world.

I will continue to love and cherish and protect my six grand children who happily have introduced Asian DNA into the Durfee line.

I will appreciate all of my good fortune, and try hard to help others in finding their good fortune.

I will not ever sit by idly.

What will YOU do today?

#todayiwill

Nicole Bussi

I went to bed last night devoid of hope.  For a fleeting second, I actually regretted bringing my three children into this world.  I felt desperately sorrow that they would grow up in a country surrounded by misogynistic, bigoted, ignorant assholes led by the supreme asshole for at least the next four years.  What happened to my country?  What happened to my great UNITED States of America?  I tried to pray…. It was a strange mix of a Jewish Buddhist plea to the universe and G-d asking to bring balance to this world and not throw a dark cloud over the good that I believed would prevail just hours before. It didn’t seem to help.  I woke up and informed by daughter that Hillary Clinton did not win.  Her response was telling…. “You mean Donald Trump WON?” she asked in disbelief.  She was then silent for a few minutes (an eternity for a chatty 7 year old) and then proclaimed, “Well I guess I will be the first girl President.”  And I fought back the tears.  Because the feminist in me felt murdered.  And the optimist did too.

I scoured the news for any silver linings to this catastrophe.  I contacted my LGBT friends to check on them, my friends with disabled children to check on them, the parents of daughters to check on them.  Disbelief, grief, shock engulfed us all.

And then, Hilary said it, “The worst thing that can happen in a democracy- as well as in an individual’s life, is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.” And five minutes later, the abuela of my good friend reminded her of a Mexican proverb, “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.”  And then I saw a chart that showed that the 18-24 year old population of our country voted against Trump- against hatred- in almost every single state.  If that was the only vote that mattered, Hillary would have earned 504 electoral votes. The quote under the chart said “This is what the future voted. We must keep this flame alight and nurture this vision.”  And then it dawned on me.

YOU are the future. And although today looks dark, the future looks BRIGHT. Educated, hard-working, intelligent, students who are driven to make a change WILL change this world.  YOU will impact this world.  Today, you are students that have risen through challenges that most Americans never even know exist.  Today, you work diligently to carve a new path that is not the one that was set out for you by our society.  Today, you are already agents of change.  Tomorrow, you will be the future leaders, policy makers, educators, parents, artists, writers, and business owners, who will impact the world and bring the change.  You bring a unique set of gifts to our world that must be shared.  YOU are the future.  And YOU are my hope.

You must forge on.  You must be the seed that continues to grow until you are so grand and mighty there is nothing left to bury.  I am committed to supporting your journey.  If you need water or sunlight for your seed, I am there.  If you need to know that there is a generation of white middle-class children who are being raised to reject hatred, bigotry, and misogyny- I am here to tell you there is.

I will continue to fight for you and your families, and support you in your fight as well.  Because YOU are the future, and YOU are my hope.    

What will YOU do today?

#todayiwill

Justin Michael Douglas

Over the last couple of days, I spent a good amount of time in front of a blank page. I was searching for thoughts, feelings, reasoning, etc. that would help me understand how we are not celebrating our first Madame President. Personally – better yet, selfishly – I would rather not share what I’m going through right now. However, this isn’t just about me.

The youth are watching.

My hope is that the divisive rhetoric used by our future leader opens up conversations that were seemingly too awkward to have before. We, as a country, have not consistently spoken about our identities – race, class, nationality, gender, etc. – that has to change. This is a wake up call. This means that we have to fight harder for what we want.

My hope is that the affirmation of our President-elect’s values serves as motivation to our communities in their fights for equity and justice. I have dedicated my life to work on behalf of people that have been voiceless within the spaces that I have been so privileged to be in. More than ever before, we must all do that. At such a crucial time in history, silence reinforces the winning campaign’s message of hate.

I come from a pained people. I come from people who have tiptoed around trusting America. This election seems to prove what my people already knew – that we are not welcomed here. But I don’t want to believe that. I don’t want to believe that my life doesn’t matter. I want to believe that this reality proves we have more to fight for and, unfortunately, a steeper hill to climb. I want to believe that this challenge is a worthy adversary to our will.

To my communities – know that however you need me, I am here for you – to protect you, to listen to you, to strategize with you. It’s most important that we don’t hide in this time. We must continue doing the work that we do and thinking more strategically about how we can affect real change.

The youth are watching.

If we move forward without a plan, then we will have complied with the rejection of all we thought to be morally right and with the affirmation of hate. I can’t do that. We can’t do that.

The youth are watching.

Today, I’m not sure what to do. Today, I want to heal. Today, I want to cope. Today, I want to listen. Today, I want to be held. Today, I want to yell. Today, I want to cry.

Today, I want to cower but today, I will not do that because the youth are watching.

Because the youth are watching, we have a duty to support their encouraging, invigorating energies. How can we do that?

Today, we will heal. Today, we will cope. Today, we will listen. Today, we will hold each other. Today, we will yell. Today, we will cry.

Tomorrow, we will plan. Tomorrow, we will move forward. Tomorrow, WE WILL RISE TOGETHER.

What will you do today?

#todayiwill

Kenji Treanor

What I can proclaim today is the same as yesterday, and the same as tomorrow:

I am the product of a truly American, mixed-race, hapa haole, immigrant-from-a-not-so-long-time-ago family. From a sugar cane plantation in Hawaii to a coal-fired power plant outside Boston, my Japanese and Irish ancestors labored hard, coped with oppression and depression, drank too much, and sacrificed themselves in trying to satiate an insatiable love and hope for their kids. Despite mental illness, divorce, addiction and disease, and everything else my family has had to overcome in the past – most but not all of my grandparents finished high school, both my parents made their way through college as non-traditional transfer and continuing students, and my brother and I went directly to college and eventually to graduate school.

This kind of arc is what our country is about. This is what every immigrant, low-income, and otherwise marginalized family has an unassailable right to pursue.

Beyond moving us out of poverty, this trajectory has afforded my parents and I the privilege to act upon our political consciousness without great hardship. My grandparents would have had to choose between time spent working for pay and time spent working for justice. They would have had to endure the “Otherness” of their race, ethnicity, nationality, and gender in a time when being a fighter against society’s “Other-ing” was another reason to be “Other-ed.”

But I do not have to endure the same hardship, because my education and social class, my gender, and my generation, enable me to earn a fixed salary away from the pressure of piecemeal and hourly work, and to follow amazing examples of activism that have become known and normalized for people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, and others through our past movements. So as I think about what I, as part of my current multi-racial, multi-ethnic Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Self-Realized/Agnostic family, will do:

I will always owe a debt to those who came before me and lifted me up with their sacrifice and struggle, and to those who helped my ancestors as allies.

I will repay that debt by dedicating my whole self, through my professional career and in my personal life, to serving as an agent of change for social justice for all.

I will honor my parents’ examples of working for community development and embodying personal compassion – from dad’s organizing in Visalia with migrant farmworkers in the 1960’s and in enforcing SF’s early LGBTQ protections for domestic partners in the 1990’s, to mom’s dignity-giving care to an AIDS patient in the 1980’s and tireless tutoring of an illiterate adult in the 1990’s.

I will ensure my daughter knows who she is, who she can and must become as a woman that is a scion of this legacy of immigration and poverty, social and economic ascension, mental and substance illness and recovery, and political solidarity – to keep the fight for social justice alive in our family, as it is so vitally needed in our community and country, as in the past and in the future, beyond any election or any regime, irrefutably as the human truth of our genealogical story and responsibility.

And simply for me, in my lifetime regardless of history written or yet unwritten, I will wake up each day, whether hopeful or doubtful, happy or sad, creative or staid – and I will be who I always am and I will do what I always do to make love and justice real and endless.

Today, I will be steadfast, grounded, dedicated, immovable, and undeterred because I am the living progeny of four generations’ triumph of struggle over inequity and oppression – and the struggle continues with and for my comrades and us all.

Today, and always, WE WILL RISE TOGETHER.

#todayiwill

David Arturo Calderon Varguez

Hoy tuve una junta con mi profesor de psicología, ya que estoy trabajando en un estudio sobre la salud mental en comunidades inmigrantes. Al estar hablando con él, le dije que en estos momentos me gustaría ser un psicólogo para ayudar a mi gente de este estrés psicológico que ha causado estas elecciones. Mi profesor me recomendó encontrar esos sitios para ayudar a mi gente.

Hoy haré todo lo posible para averiguar sitios seguros para que mi gente inmigrante los encuentre. Voy estar buscando y preguntando por terapistas, psicologos, o cualquier grupo en el que mi gente se puede desahogar de sus preocupaciones y apoyarse uno al otro. En estos tiempos es cuando deberíamos estar unidos. Incluso si esto no sale como lo estoy pensando, no me daré por vencido tan fácilmente.

Recuerden que venimos de gente que dio todo por salir adelante. Estamos aquí y en ningún lado nos iremos. Todo lo que hago, lo hago por mi hermosa madre, hermano, hermana, sobrinos y Next Generation Scholarsquienes me han ayudado a ser quien soy y levantarme con mi comunidad.

Seguiré siendo un artista, un poeta, dramaturgo, escritor, un scholar, pero sobre todo su amigx y una persona. Mientras sea eso seguiré hablando la verdad y cuestionando
el racismo,
el sexismo,
la homofobia,
la islamofobia,
el clasismo,
y cualquier opresión que nos divide y nos hiere.

Hoy seguiré creando Amor,

que haras tu?

#todayiwill

Andrea Rivas

Today, I will use the strength of those before me as fuel for change.

As an undocumented woman, I hold experiences that are often times obscured by the shadows of racism, bigotry and oppression. As a young girl, I immigrated to the United States in search of my mother’s loving arms. I immigrated in search of opportunities that I would never have access to in El Salvador, a country plagued by poverty and violence. As I grew up, despite living in constant fear due to my legal status, I developed a love for America. I became inspired by the culture and values, and began to feel as though equality was attainable despite negative rhetoric in politics and the media towards minority and underrepresented groups. I developed a love towards a country that allowed me to have hope.

Today, I am pained to see the America I have always feared existed. The results of the election have caused so much anger and fear, that it is hard to call America, the country I have grown up in, my home. But although it is by far not perfect, America is and will continue to be my home.

Therefore, today, I will use my voice as a tool to fight for a future that does not limit individual rights based on legal status, race, gender, religion, sexuality, and/or ableism.

  • I will speak up for my family and those before me who have been silenced.
  • I will continue to educate myself not only to lift my family out of a cycle of poverty, but to be a knowledgeable and informed individual capable of understanding and celebrating differences.
  • I will rise because despite living in a country that is still poisoned by ideals of white supremacy, we are stronger than ever.
  • I will smile because I am an undocumented woman, and I am ready to fight for the equality we deserve.

Today, WE WILL RISE TOGETHER.

What will YOU do?

#todayiwill

Anthony Veasna So

Every time I teach, I remember that my grandfather was killed during the Khmer Rouge Genocide because he was a teacher, because teaching undermined communist ideals. And every time I teach, I remember that the pursuit of education is the very reason my family has come so far. I remember that teaching, learning, and engaging with complex ideas are the very foundation of social justice, the way we can dismantle the institutions that oppress us, and rise above them.

Today, I told my queer students, my students of color, and my students who identify as women, non-binary, or transgender—all groups that I have vowed to advise, teach and help—that I wasn’t scared. I felt that today, of all days, I needed to channel the mentors I’ve had—those who empowered me to embrace my difference, who taught me to be proud of my gay-Cambodian-American-first-generation-I-like-dudes-and-penis-so-fucking-what identity—and be strong for my students. So I told them I wasn’t scared, but I also told them I was fucking enraged.

Despite the fact that I know the election was fueled by sexism, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia, that the results will undoubtedly usher in a new era of what-fuck-is-going-on disenfranchising policies, that the new President has bragged about sexual assault and promised mass deportations, that the new Vice President thinks that I should be electrocuted until I become “straight,” that our country endorses an us-vs-them mentality so much that half our country cannot see success without the marginalization of other communities, I allowed myself to be unafraid today. I allowed myself to go to work, to be mad, to laugh, to see the growing motivation and hope of a new generation who are tired of living in a country filled with so much hate. I allowed myself to be proud of all the students and people I work with at Next Generation Scholars and The Urban School, and their capacity to instigate positive change.

I won’t let this election scare me, because I know that no matter how powerful Trump thinks he is, he can’t disrupt the time-space-continuum and reverse all the progress we have made as a country. He can’t undo Stonewall, the Civil Rights Movement, the fact that almost half of this country voted against him. He’s literally too dumb for that.

And I won’t let this election stop me from teaching socially-driven curriculums that undermine oppressive institutions, from writing stories that pierce through the bullshit of privilege, or from supporting the students and communities I love.

So

No, I will not run away.
No, I will not hide in isolation.
No, I will not stop fighting for justice.

I will wipe my tears.
I will stand strong.
I will continue.

This is what will happen today and forever:

We will support our struggling brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers.
We will believe in the potential of every person.
We will value the voice of those who are different.

In short, today, the Next Generation Scholars family is stronger than ever, undaunted, unbowed, unafraid.

Today, WE WILL RISE TOGETHER.

What will YOU do?

#todayiwill