Dearest family, friends and supporters:
Happy new breath! Happy New Year! Happy new decade!
I remember standing in the 49er’s Linebacker room sharing a message with about twenty NFL football players, “You’re one bad decision away from being locked up in prison or six feet under.” We all have to be accountable to our actions. There is no exception.
I remember an immigrant youth lying on a gurney in the hospital emergency room pleading with me, “Can I leave the hospital? I don’t want to be here. My family doesn’t have money.” He didn’t think of that when he decided to engage in a group fight. There is a consequence to every action.
I remember the day an African American man robbed and dragged my 74 year old mother on the concrete ground in board daylight. As she lies in the emergency room in the hospital, I reasoned with myself, “Here I am advocating for the rights of the African Americans, Latinos and APIs in the community, why does it has to be an African American who hurts my Mom? Then again, I did not think about my victims’ feelings when I committed my crime. Who am I to judge others?” There’re many reasons why people do what they do. It’s what I am going to do, that matters. Forgiveness is not easy, but it is necessary.
I remember standing on the stage in the Laney College auditorium with my poet friend SKIM performing our collaboration of “Breath is Life” to celebrate my birthday with friends and community members. I’m reminded that community is how we include and embrace each other.
I remember reading a letter from Yuri Kochiyama over the holiday. She writes in red ink,
“The year 2009 is passing away. But the U.S. government is still at war in Afghanistan, soon probably in Iran, and may still be in Iraq. Let’s hope the movement gets stronger that it can force the U.S. to stop its aggression and wars. May peace be possible in 2010.”
At age 88, she is still writing to political prisoners and fighting for peace. We’re never too young or too old to make a difference…
The year of 2009 continues to be a blessing for me. I’m still doing the work that I love, serving the youth and the community. I am a Project Manager in the Community Youth Center (CYC) of San Francisco. I work to decrease violence in the city. I’m afforded with many opportunities to share my life experiences with people from all walks of life. I conduct presentations in schools, colleges, universities and different organizations. Sometimes I get paid and sometimes I don’t. Either way, I don’t miss an opportunity to connect with people.
The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, appointed me to serve a two year term in the Reentry Council of the City and County of San Francisco in May. I’m grateful for the opportunity to advocate for the brothers and sisters who are incarcerated.
The Department of Children Youth and their Families of San Francisco selected me to be a part of the 2009 Roots Fellowship. The yearlong fellowship helps me to develop leadership and management skills, organizational capacity building, community building and systems change. It’s a privilege to be included with a group of dedicated community leaders and learn from them.
As the poet laureate of Queens, New York, Ishle eloquently puts it, “Work is love.” I love my work.
As for my immigration status, I’m still deported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is still pursuing to secure my travel document from the Chinese government so it can execute the deportation order. My appeal in the ninth circuit is pending. In the meanwhile, I’m under ICE’s Intensive Supervision Appearance Program. The waiting continues.
In my reflection of 2009, the reality of “there’s not enough time to do all the things I want to do” holds true. I find myself at the losing end of finding balance between work and personal life. I just love my work too much.
For 2010, I will start my campaign to secure my status in the US. After all, if I don’t take care of my immigration status, I will not be able to continue to serve the people. I will be seeking a private bill from the US congress to stop my deportation.
I will apply and enroll in UC Berkeley this fall to get my BA degree in sociology. I’m taking one more class in the spring to fulfill my requirement.
I will prioritize my life so I can secure the balance and health I need to sustain my work and actively engage in relationships with my friends.
Lastly, I remember as I sit in the auditorium in UC Berkeley celebrating Richard Aoki’s legacy among hundreds of friends and community members, I feel the power of connection. One person can break the color line and inspire changes in millions.
Michael Jackson sings his message to the world,
“If you wanna to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.”
Let’s maximize our potential and make the changes we want to see in ourselves, in our families, in our communities and in the world.
Thank you for your presence in my life. I am who I am because you believed in me.
Please cherish the breath that is sustaining your beautiful self.