May Newsletter: All Eyes on Rafah

Written by VietRISE

May 10, 2024

Dear Community,

Here in the U.S., May is recognized as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To us at VietRISE, this month is a reminder of the political force built by Asian students who united under one identity and inspired political action in Asian American communities as part of the Third World Liberation Front. When unified, grounded in the principles of social justice, and unwavering in their demands, Asian American unity and unity with Black, Brown, Arab, and Native communities can create significant political, economic, and cultural shifts.

A few days ago, Israel launched its military invasion of the city of Rafah in Gaza, Palestine. As of February 2024, over 1.4 million Palestinians have taken shelter in Rafah after being forced to evacuate from other parts of Gaza that the Israeli military destroyed. Our community sees the destruction, hatred, and extreme disrespect for Palestinian life by Israel. We are watching as the U.S. government continues to fund the genocide of Palestinians. We are watching as brave and committed students continue to hold their grounds across the country and other parts of the world as they demand their universities divest from Israel to stop funding its genocide of Palestinians. We are watching as university and local police forces repress student activism with uninhibited force, protect white supremacists and Zionist hate groups, and allow these groups to violently attack young people organizing for justice.

Many Vietnamese Americans are wondering – what can we do about this? Here are a few things that we are doing, and that you can do with others:

  1. Bring friends and join a student encampment: Gather several friends and join the student encampments at one of the universities near you. Follow Instagram accounts who post daily updates and calls to action such as @pymlaocie, @ucidivest, @eye.on.palestine, and @sjpsocal. Take direction from student leaders. If you’re not sure what to do, ask. What the encampments need the most is for people to show up in person.
  2. VietRISE will be joining an encampment once a week. Email vincent@vietrise.org if you want to join us.
  3. If you’re an alum, commit to withholding donations to your university. If you went to a UC, sign this form. Call your university alumni association and let them know you will no longer donate unless they divest. Make public statements on social media showing that you are canceling your donation. Ask 5 other friends to do the same. Here’s the UCI Alumni Association website.
  4. Don’t stop talking about Palestine. Make posts and say #AllEyesOnRafah. Host teach-ins and post about Palestine on Instagram, Facebook, X, Tiktok, etc.

Mark Your Calendar & Get Involved

Saturday, June 8 @ 11AM: Community Listening Session Centering Young Vietnamese Voters

Join us on Saturday, June 8 at 11AM for a community listening session centering young Vietnamese voters! We want to understand and hear from young Vietnamese voters and how they are engaging with voting and other forms of civic engagement in OC. Moreover, we want to identify the barriers to voting and the spaces and platforms that exist for civic engagement among young voters. The event will be held at the VietRISE office and there will be food! If you have any questions, please reach out to Dwight (dwight@vietrise.org) or Lisa (lisa@vietrise.org)! Please RSVP by noon on Thursday, June 7.

PPE & KYR Distribution

Expanding the Right to Vote to All Residents in Santa Ana

Our coalition, Santa Ana Families for Fair Election (SAFFE), is working to pass a ballot measure this November that would expand the right to vote to all residents in Santa Ana, regardless of immigration status. If you are interested in participating in this campaign, fill out this interest form here.

Resources

Free KN95 Masks

We still have more free KN95 masks for anyone who is looking to restock their supply! Email indigo@vietrise.org or stop by our office between 11 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday to pick up free bags of KN95 masks. Each bag comes with 50 masks, and each person can get 2 bags of masks.

Campaign & Program News

PPE & KYR Distribution

May Day March

Last year we joined a coalition of organizations to revitalize the OC May Day Coalition. This year, our coalition’s partnerships expanded and together we marched in Santa Ana for workers rights, expanding the right to vote, housing justice, police accountability, and for a free Palestine. Read this article to learn more about the origin of May Day. Check out our post here.

PPE & KYR Distribution

Othering & Belonging Conference in Oakland, CA

In April, our Executive Director, Tracy La, moderated a panel of incredible immigrant rights organizers and advocates across the U.S. at the Othering & Belonging Conference, where over 1,800 people gathered. The panel discussed Xenophobia, Resistance, and the Future of the Immigrant Rights Movement. Learn more about the panel here.

PPE & KYR Distribution

Membership Program Hike Social

This month, we hiked at the San Joaquin Marsh in Irvine and enjoyed nature with our members! We are happy to have welcomed new members to VietRISE. Together, we bird-watched and brainstormed exciting ideas for future community events.

PPE & KYR Distribution

SAUSD Ethnic Studies Conference

On Saturday, April 13th, VietRISE attended Santa Ana Unified School District’s Ethnic Studies Community Conference as a workshop presenter. This year, the conference highlighted community, creation, and celebration. With students, educators, and community members, we explored the crucial role of art in movements for social change, sharing our experiences of combining art and activism in our organizing with the Vietnamese American community. Thank you to SAUSD for inviting us!

Features

PPE & KYR Distribution

Báo Người Việt - Sinh viên UC Irvine biểu tình ôn hòa ủng hộ Palestine

UCI students set up a pro-Palestinian encampment, and despite threats from the university and some initial encounters with police, the students have persisted with their presence and continue to call for the university to divest and disclose its investments with Israel and reinvest into the student community. Read the full article here.

Community Spotlight

For the month of May, we are honored to feature some of our amazing youth who have been involved in many of our programs and events!

An Nguyen, Westminster

“Hi everyone! My name is An Nguyen and it is my honor to be featured in VietRISE May Newsletter! I am currently a senior at Westminster High School and an intern here at VietRISE for almost two years now. I have been involved in different community events, Civic Engagement/Social Justice internships, and canvassing programs to further help fulfill the needs of our Vietnamese community in Orange County. By being a part of all these amazing opportunities that VietRISE has given me, I have learned a lot of meaningful lessons and valuable skills that I can apply to my own life. Through contributing my efforts, I hope to promote an understanding and appreciation of Vietnamese American culture among different communities and highlight the importance of supporting social justice and building power with working-class Vietnamese and immigrant communities. I also seek to instill a sense of pride in Vietnamese roots and inspire a commitment to lifelong learning and cultural enrichment for our community in the long run.”

Quynh Yang, Long Beach

“Xin chào hello everyone! My name is Quỳnh (pronounced Wun) and I will be a freshman at Yale University this fall studying ER&M (Ethnicity, Race, and Migration) and Economics!

I was a civic engagement canvasser for ViệtRISE this past summer and the opportunity not only allowed me to gain true friendships (shout out to Thu Luong! I miss you) but also mentorships in my continuing journey of advocacy and community work. My experience at VietRISE helped me cultivate my native tongue and ultimately become a liaison for the voices and concerns of the Vietnamese community in Orange County, those of which I consider members of my extended family. I can attribute a lot of my growth as a community organizer to my experience at VietRISE where I had the freedom and support to execute my ideas. Like during my canvassing field program, I had the idea to translate an existing resource for food banks to Vietnamese to make it more accessible to elderly residents and together me and my mentor Lisa Nguyễn made it happen! I am very grateful for our connection as Lisa continues to be my confidant and is currently coaching me through my VietRISE project, a workforce integration effort supporting economic justice and inspired by my experience canvassing mobile home residents!”

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OUR MISSION

VietRISE advances social justice and builds power with working-class Vietnamese and immigrant communities in Orange County. We build leadership and create systemic change through organizing, narrative change, cultural empowerment, and civic engagement.

VietRISE is fiscally sponsored by Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

CONTACT US

general@vietrise.org

(714) 589-5496

14351 Euclid St. #1M, Garden Grove, CA 92843