- Posted byon May 13, 2013 at 8:53 AM EDT
Minh Dang is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as an AAPI Women leader.
One of the first neuroscience lessons I received was through reading Parenting from the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. I learned that the relationship between a parent with their child directly impacts the child’s brain development. Quite literally, the parenting we receive manifests itself in our brain cells. Whether we are loved or abused, our brain captures the experience.
Child sexual enslavement, also referred to as the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) or child sex trafficking, is a horrible crime where in which adults psychologically and economically exploit children. While news stories highlight the fact that children’s bodies are sold for sex, it is also a child’s identity, spirit, and future that are up for sale. The injustice of child sexual enslavement is not just in the atrocities of incest, on-going statutory rape, and physical violence. Children who are enslaved are also experiencing neglect of their normal developmental needs. They are given an existential identity crisis, faced with the need to believe they are fundamentally unlovable and deserve the maltreatment. Moreover, the injustice of childhood sexual enslavement lies within the fact that the impact of childhood slavery lives on with a human being for much of their adult lives. It lives on in their brain cells.
Every human being deserves to live in freedom from birth to death. Don’t Sell Bodies, an initiative of the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, works to ensure that all children are free from experiences of slavery. Valuing love over domination, our work is to reveal the atrocities of child sexual enslavement, and slavery broadly speaking, and to mobilize citizens, non-profits, businesses, and elected officials to take action. While it may be difficult for the general public to understand that the experience of CSEC is really comparable slavery, Don’t Sell Bodies uplifts the stories of survivors like myself, to highlight the true nature of this crime. I can tell you from my own experience that it is slavery. My parents treated me as a commodity and used me for both economic and emotional gain. Like a slave, I was forced to serve my masters in any way they desired. They reaped financial gain and they also experienced sadistic pleasure from their domination of me.
I invite readers to think of child sexual enslavement as not just another social issue. I invite us to consider this the human rights issue of our time. Clearly not everyone is enslaved, yet we are all impacted by the culture of slavery. It is our need to have someone "less" than us, whether that is through feeling more powerful, educated, or wealthy, that drives the enslavement of another human being. It is through our need to make someone feel the pains we have felt, to make them feel less human, which allows us to treat people like objects. It is in the roots of child abuse and slavery that we will find the roots of violence, discrimination and dehumanization. In expelling slavery in our nation and abroad, we will become a more safe, just, and compassionate society.
Minh Dang is Executive Director of Don’t Sell Bodies.
- Posted byon May 13, 2013 at 8:26 AM EDT
Nancy Tom is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as an AAPI Women leader.
For more than 50 years, I have stressed the importance of communication as a vital part of moving the Asian American and Pacific Islander community forward. In my world, the arts is one of the best ways to communicate—to truly convey who we are and what we do, and to link the generations together.
My work in the arts began by exposing Americans to Asian culture and works. But I soon realized that just as society was evolving, so too was the arts as a medium for heightening the awareness of Asians and Asian Americans. I founded the Center for Asian Arts and Media at Columbia College in Chicago so Asian Americans, the local art community, and the general public could better understand the historical and contemporary contributions by Asians and Asian Americans to art, history and culture. Thinking outside of the box, the Center presented not only visual art, but music, performance, lectures, film and more as part of its outreach efforts.
But we didn’t stop there. There was a distinct need to reach out across generations and cultures. So as the city of Chicago prepared to showcase Chicago at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, I knew we had to be part of it, and we needed to be innovative in how we did it. Thus was born Hip Hop ChicaGO: Connecting Cultures One Beat at a Time. 26 local multicultural artists blew audiences away in Shanghai celebrating the best of Chicago hip hop culture with a showcase of authentic beats, rhymes and moves that blended signature hip hop elements with American and international influences.
I also wanted to encourage women and girls of Asian descent, and of all cultures, to think critically about the issues they face, creatively expressing their heritage and identifying and discovering alternative resolutions to conflicts through programs that explored race, gender, class, sexuality, family structure and human rights. Named the “Woman Warrior Festival” after the best-selling book by award winning Chinese American author Maxine Hong Kingston, this program showcased women, empowering them to explore the tensions of growing up in conflicting cultures.
I also firmly believe that it is important for younger generations to remember their past – for the past informs the future. Therefore, my next project will look at the Chinese Exclusion Act through film, a visual exhibition, and frank discourse on this historical topic with ongoing implications – an especially timely project given the current discussion on immigration.
Nancy Tom is the founder of the Center for Asian Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago.
- Posted byon May 13, 2013 at 8:07 AM EDT
Atsuko Toko Fish is being honored as a Champion of Change for her efforts as an AAPI Women leader.
My commitment to social change did not occur overnight. It was a gradual learning process of being inspired by meeting and working with extraordinary people in Boston and beyond.
Working for former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis gave me an opportunity to be a bridge between Massachusetts and Japan by creating and implementing long-term tourism and trade strategies. I also served for ten years on former Massachusetts Governor William Weld’s Asian American Commission, receiving his New American Appreciation Award.
At Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in Boston, I had the first-hand experience of an excellent nonprofit making a difference and impacting people’s lives in developing countries. This experience at MSH prepared me to quickly respond to the earthquake and tsunami disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011 in Japan. I knew exactly what to do, understanding that time is of the essence, and the importance of being on the ground to assess the needs. I called for immediate action and, with a team of Japan-experts and energetic young professionals, created The Japanese Disaster Relief Fund - Boston (JDRFB). As a vehicle for people in New England to directly support the affected area in Japan, JDRFB raised nearly $1 million by March 2013 and gave 24 grants to 19 organizations.
My passion has also been empowering women, particularly through two organizations: the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) and the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative (JWLI). ATASK is a Boston-based organization providing shelter and support services to Asian survivors of domestic violence and their children. The board and I helped move the organization forward from a grass-roots group to a social enterprise that now transforms dreams of domestic violence victims into reality. In 2005, I founded JWLI to empower Japanese women to become leaders in the emerging nonprofit sector and agents for social change in Japan. In partnership with Simmons College, we developed the JWLI Fellows Program in Boston, a unique hands-on leadership training focusing on best practices of nonprofit management and strategies; and the JWLI Forum Program in Japan, a platform for the JWLI fellow graduates to share the knowledge and experience gained in Boston. By 2012, JWLI graduated 23 fellows, who established the JWLI Alumnae Association Japan and hosted four forum events, attended by approximately 500 people in total.
As a first generation American, I understand the challenges and complexities faced by immigrants. Therefore, I am involved in the Greater Boston Citizenship Initiative (GBCI). GBCI is a collaborative project that educates immigrants about the benefits of citizenship and helps eligible, legal permanent residents (LPRs) to overcome barriers to naturalization. GBCI hosts clinics providing eligibility screening, application assistance, legal referrals and all materials needed to apply for U.S. citizenship. This work is rewarding because I believe that if you have a vision and work hard, the United States is still the country where your dreams can come true. GBCI provides this important step, getting closer to realizing dreams.
It is indeed a privilege to receive this recognition and a pleasure to share this special moment with my family, friends and those from whom I have learned. Now more than ever, I strongly believe that the United States is a land of opportunities and a place where dreams come true.
Atsuko Toko Fish is a founder of the Japanese Women’s Leadership Initiative and Japanese Disaster Relief Fund-Boston
- Posted byon May 8, 2013 at 11:45 AM EDT
I recently had the honor of attending an event to mark the 2nd Anniversary of Let’s Move! in Indian Country at Chimney Rock National Monument in southwestern Colorado. I hiked and learned about this magnificent landscape on our way to the top with fifty youth from the Southern Ute Montessori Elementary, the Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture Butch Blazer, and a handful of youth from the Pueblos who work with the Southwest Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps partner organization that engages and trains a diverse group of young women and men and completes conservation projects for the public benefit.
I had lengthy conversations with Aaron Lowden, an Acoma Pueblo, regarding the strength and resiliency of the ancient people who built and lived in that space, and how their journey is connected to his own. Below I’d like to share some of his thoughts:
Guwaatse howba tu shinomeh kuwaitiya eshte e Aaron Lowden madiganashia kuhaiya haanu stu da aakume’ haanu stu da! Hello everyone my name is Kuwaitiya in Acoma and Aaron Lowden in English and I come from the bear clan of the Acoma people. I am a program coordinator for the Southwest Conservation Corps' (SCC) Ancestral Lands regional office in Acoma Pueblo, NM.
Our day began in the way I began this blog with a greeting to all attending the Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC) 2nd Anniversary event and by saying a prayer. The prayer was done for the entire group before we entered the ancient Puebloan site of the recently designated Chimney Rock National Monument, CO. It is as a sign of respect for those who came before to let them know we were there to learn from them. When we started at the trail head we were joined by Southern Ute schoolchildren, the Southwest Conservation Corps, the US Forest Service and US Department of Agriculture to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of LMIC. We were also joined by Jodi Gillette, the White House Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs and Butch Blazer, the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment at the Department of Agriculture.
Finally, we were ready to do what we all came there to do: get outside and get active. Led by the Chimney Rock Interpretative Association guides, we hiked with anticipation to see the ruins. Walking through the Great Houses on steep inclined trails the group gained knowledge by experiencing the difficult and active living conditions of the original occupants of these sites.
We learned how every single bit of rock and mortar had to be transported up to the top of this steep peak. If you were to talk with one of the ancestral inhabitants today and ask them about environmental stewardship, exercising, and eating right it’s reasonable to assume that they wouldn’t know what you were talking about, it’s just how they lived.
Today, Native Americans – particularly youth – have one of the highest obesity rates in the country. Although progress can be a good thing and has made our lives extensively easier, it is imperative that we keep these reminders and retain our old ways to have a healthy future as indigenous peoples. I feel this is even more appropriate when on the subject of Native American issues of our health and environmental stewardship. After all, if we can’t take care of the haatsi (land), how can we expect it take care of us. By getting outside and being active in our country’s public lands, and by eating right and caring about where our food comes from, we can raise a healthier, more environmentally conscious generation.
After the group finished the hike, the Southwest Conservation Corps Ancestral Lands staff prepared a popular Pueblo dish: green chili stew. We were all ready to eat after our hike! Everyone enjoyed the nutritious meal and discussed the hike while the students played outdoors.
As the day winded down and once everything was finished, we all headed home thankful for the beautiful day we had been given.
Please click here to learn more about Let’s Move! in Indian Country.
Jodi Gillette is the White House Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs
- Posted byon May 7, 2013 at 9:55 AM EDT
On June 20, the White House will host a Champions of Change event to highlight outstanding individuals, organizations, or research projects promoting and using open scientific data and publications to accelerate progress and improve our world. The White House Champions of Change program highlights individuals, businesses, and organizations whose extraordinary stories and accomplishments positively impact our communities.
Access to scientific research can help fuel entrepreneurship, innovation, and scientific breakthroughs. Freely available data generates new ideas, builds new businesses, and generates economic growth that impacts the lives of Americans every day.
That’s why, in February 2013, OSTP Director John P. Holdren issued a memo to the heads of Federal agencies that aims to increase public access to the results of federally-funded research—including scientific data and publications.
Open sharing of research results is a proven strategy for driving positive change. For example, the rapid and open sharing of genomic data from the Human Genome Project revolutionized biomedical research, spurred major growth in the biotechnology industry, and provided $140 in economic returns for every dollar of public investment. And, the Federal Government’s liberation of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite data led to an explosion of geospatial information systems and the creation of many companies, smartphone apps, and car navigation systems.
- Posted byon May 6, 2013 at 7:01 PM EDT
The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories of people across the country who are strengthening their communities and moving America forward.
In just a few weeks, the White House Office of Public Engagement will host a Champions of Change event focused on immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs – the best and brightest from around the world who are helping create American jobs, grow our economy, and make our nation more competitive.
The facts are clear Immigrants make America more prosperous and entrepreneurial. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business in the United States as the native-born, and more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies from GE and Ford to Google and Yahoo! were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Moreover, immigrants generate extraordinary innovation as scientists and engineers. Immigrants represent 50 percent of PhDs working in math and computer science and 57 percent of PhDs working in engineering. By some estimates, immigration was responsible for one third of the explosive growth in patenting in past decades, and these innovations contributed to increasing U.S. GDP by 2.4 percent.
We are asking for your help to identify immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs who may be "Champions of Change." For example, a champion could be the founder of a growing U.S. company, or a graduate student working on breakthrough research at a U.S. university.
(Under "Theme of Service," choose "Immigrant Innovators and Entrepreneurs".)
Please submit nominations no later than 6pm ET on Sunday, May 12.
- Posted byon May 6, 2013 at 9:57 AM EDT
Later today, as a part of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, the White House will honor fifteen Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander women as "Champions of Change" who are doing extraordinary work to create a more safe, equal, and prosperous future for their communities and the country.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature groups of Americans - individuals, businesses, and organizations - who are doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities.
Join us to watch this event live starting at 1:00 p.m. EDT.
- Posted byon April 30, 2013 at 1:44 PM EDT
A hundred years ago, a Chicago lawyer named Sigmund Livingston raised his voice and launched a movement. He declared his mission was “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, we congratulate the Anti-Defamation League on its 100th anniversary.
We all know the quote that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But there’s a corollary: that arc bends faster when it is pushed, and the ADL has always pushed. The ADL was there at the height of World War II, defying hate groups and fighting against the brutal onslaught of anti-Semitism. The ADL was there in the 1950s, during Brown v. Board of Education, fighting for desegregation. And the ADL was there pushing for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Today, we are proud to work with the ADL on a wide range of issues, as we follow President Obama’s charge to work towards a country that is “more fair, more just, and more equal for every single child of God.”
With enormous support from ADL, the President signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. This act extends the coverage of the Federal hate crimes law to include attacks based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
President Obama upheld this country’s highest ideals by repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” As he put it, “we are not a nation that says, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We are a nation that says, ‘Out of many, we are one.’”
Together with the ADL, we stand against bullying. In 2011, we held the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, attended by the President and First Lady. The ADL has been out front in equipping families and educators in the fight against bullying, both in person and online.
Together with the ADL, we stand with the Dreamers who were brought into this country as children, many of whom found out as adults they weren’t citizens when they tried to apply for a job and for college.
In his ADL address in 1963, President Kennedy described citizenship to the United States as “a proud privilege.” He spoke of the millions of people who left other countries, other familiar scenes, to come here to build a new life and make a new opportunity for themselves and their children. In fifty years, that American dream has remained unchanged.
Together with the ADL, we stand with women and girls. Just a couple of months ago, President Obama signed a bill that both strengthened and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Thanks to this bipartisan agreement, thousands of women, men, girls and boys across the country who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking will be able to access the resources they need to help heal from their trauma.
Together with the ADL, we stand against hate. President Obama made clear during his recent trip to Israel that anti-Semitism has no place in this world. He heeded the words of Dr. King, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” That’s why we must defend justice so vigorously. That’s why we cannot tolerate anti-Semitism or any hate, at home or abroad.
President Obama said, “Not in the classrooms of children. Not in the corridors of power. And let us never forget the link between the two. For our sons and daughters are not born to hate, they are taught to hate. So let us fill their young hearts with the same understanding, the same compassion we hope others have for them.”
And together, we congratulate the ADL on their anniversary, and look forward to working with the ADL toward the day when our world is free from hate.
Valerie B. Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama. She oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls.