|Yay! now where are the jobs? Answer you politicians!|
I have always been a big proponent of grassroots work leading to systematic change in policy. Unfortunately, these two aspects do not intersect often enough; with there being a major disconnect between what takes place in congressional meetings and what is actually occuring on the ground, in our neighborhoods and communities.
|Congresspeople on stage|
Recently however, I have been attending meetings and open houses where members of the Obama administration and members of Congress have directly came out to hear the stories and issues that are occurring everyday in our communities. I am aware that these efforts may be related to re-election purposes, but regardless I think that listening to the concerns of communities is a step in a direction towards positive systemic change.
|Congressman Mike Honda!|
|woman fighting for the rights of the disabled|
I didn't speak, though I have a lot to say from my personal experience about unemployment, but it was a valuable experience for me to attend something like this. I never attended a open house with congress members and I honestly wish that there could be more of these events. The people with the most concerns and the greatest need for help are most often the ones who are being silenced. These events allow members of the community to speak up, but is it enough?
|Activist, community leader and best friend, Nwe Oo|
speak. Tluang Salai, a refugee from the Chin ethnic community and an advocate with the non-profit organization Catholic Charities relayed the problems faced by the Chin people of Burma, especially since the numbers of Chin that will be resettled in Oakland will go up drastically in the coming months (stay tuned for my upcoming interview on Salai and the Chin community on my other blog Us Ordinary People). Nwe Oo, a Rakhine refugee and Burmese community activist thanked Daphne for her time to listen to the needs and concerns of the community, especially due to the lack of attention that Burmese cultural groups usually receive.
|Burmese community in Oakland|
It is promising to see government affiliated representatives directly meet with the people who are directly affected by policy changes, but obviously that is far from enough. What remains to be seen is WHAT will happen with this information. Will it lead to policy change? Will the suffering of working class and lower class men and women be addressed?
The forces shaping policy know the issues, they have heard it from the mouth of the people in our communities. But knowing is not enough, the proof is in action and in fighting for the rights of these communities; fighting against big businesses and corporations that are swimming in assistance money that has not trickled down to our communities.
|Community members with Daphne Kwok|