Tapping our personal power with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop
- RingCentral’s Pan-Asian Network advocates for diversity and inclusion of the Pan-Asian employee community, enriching the work culture and experience of our employees globally.
- The Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) is “devoted to…providing an alternative literary arts space at the intersection of migration, race, and social justice.”
May was Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month—and it was a hard one. The daily news was bleak, filled with images of violence against people of Asian descent. RingCentral’s Pan Asian Network Employee Resource Group responded by partnering with the Asian American Writers’ Workshop to shift the narrative and amplify the voices of our colleagues and community.
The Asian American Writers’ Workshop is a nonprofit literary arts organization founded in 1991 to support Asian American writers, literature and community. We partnered with AAWW to host a workshop that allowed our colleagues to express their pain, fear, frustration and hope through a guided writing exercise.
Writing it down. Working it out.
The guided writing workshop was inspired by Lee Isaac Young, director of the critically acclaimed film Minari. Participants started off with a stream of consciousness exercise, writing down a series of different disparate memories. Participants were then guided on connecting those memories into a narrative of shared experience.
Capturing the experience.
The takes were as diverse as the group itself, reflecting the wide range of ways people experience being Asian – and the diversity of AAPI culture itself.
Here are a few excerpts:
After serving 11-years in the United States Army, I feel like I have earned the right to (feel) safe in my own country. I shouldn’t have to warn my elderly mother to only leave her house if it was on fire. And a perfectly simple girls’ trip shouldn’t be complicated with strategies of how to minimize my Chinese-ness so that I am not targeted. I used to wonder – “When I will be American enough?” But now I understand it was never about assimilating in order to be American. No. It has always been about how to minimize my foreignness.”
While the world sorts itself out, you can still be kind to your neighbors, colleagues, and people around you. Regardless of where or who you are, that still goes a long way.”
Growing up a 5th generation Chinese American, I never realized I was anything other than American. Sure, I knew my Chinese name and loved eating at banquets and Lunar New Year was my holiday, but that never made me less American.
When I was a teenager, I remember waiting in line at a coffee shop with my mother and the cashier rudely shouted “Speak English!” to the lady in front of us. Without hesitation, my mother walked up to the cashier and told him to stop giving the lady a hard time. I was so proud..”
With the recent events around violence and racism against the API community. I’m struggling mentally and emotionally because I’m feeling targeted, divided, and more different than ever. I’m so proud of my heritage and who I am, but society has made it really difficult to freely express myself without feeling unheard or silenced.
The Pan-Asian Network ERG is working to end prejudice by strengthening the voices of AAPI employees, customers and community members. We owe a big thanks to the Asian American Writers’ Workshop for giving us the tools to do that more effectively , more powerfully, and most importantly, together.
Originally published Jul 06, 2021, updated Jul 20, 2021