ColumnistsExecutive Director

From the Executive Director: Partnerships That Make Us Stronger

By June 18, 2021June 24th, 2021No Comments

David Inoue

JACL has benefited from years of partnership with other individuals, organizations, coalitions and, more recently, corporations. One of the lessons from the World War II incarceration was that the lack of support from others probably made the incarceration more possible. It is why we have sought to make sure that we support others because we know that sometime, we might need their support.

This past year, as anti-Asian hate escalated, the support of others became all the more apparent and needed. With hate coming from groups outside our Asian American community, we needed people and groups representing those outside our own community speaking out against anti-Asian hate.

As I continue to emphasize, it is not so much what we do to combat the immediate surge in anti-Asian hate, it is what those outside our community do to denormalize it and make attitudes of anti-Asian sentiment socially unacceptable.

It is in the long-term fight against racism and xenophobia where JACL focuses our effort with our grounding in education. Programs such as the Japanese American Confinement Sites grants are vital to supporting education efforts of organizations such as JACL and many others with whom we partner from the Japanese American community.

It is why we have focused significant effort on the JACS Consortium to strengthen these partnerships and create a community-based infrastructure to promote education on the Japanese American experience and the lessons for today and the future, which must be remembered.

Among our most long-standing partnerships has been with OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates, formerly the Organization of Chinese Americans, with whom we are partnering for significant elements of this year’s upcoming National Convention.

Founded in the early 1970s, OCA was with us in support throughout the redress fight. This year will mark the 27th year that OCA has joined with us in our highly successful Leadership Summit that brings JACL and OCA members together to learn about the advocacy work we do and how we do it in partnership with one another and in coalition with many other groups in Washington, D.C.

Among the alumni of the Leadership Summit is Krystal Ka’ai, the recently appointed executive director for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

JACL has enjoyed our partnership with the White House initiative in all its iterations. Even though we often did not see eye-to-eye with the previous administration, we maintained a relationship with both executive directors of the initiative, and we look forward to working with Ms. Ka’ai.

The Leadership Summit also highlights one of our most enduring corporate partnerships with State Farm Insurance. State Farm has long been supportive of not only the Leadership Summit, but also our National Youth Student Council. Because of the breadth and depth of State Farm’s support, we are excited to recognize them as a Diamond Level Sponsor at this year’s convention.

Our other Diamond Level Sponsor this year is AT&T, who might be acknowledged in particular for its support when JACL went through some especially difficult financial times a few years ago and made significant contributions to ensure the viability of our organization.

This year in the wake of anti-Asian hate, AT&T has made a recommitment to its partnership with JACL and especially our work together in promoting access to the internet for all Americans.

As a parent of two children, I fully understand the importance of this priority, as I have seen the reliance upon the internet in conducting all of their schoolwork this year.

Among our other partners for this year’s convention are Comcast Universal, Verizon, MGM Resorts International and the JACL Credit Union. The Credit Union is one of our longest-standing partnerships, and, of course, JACL membership enables you to join the JACL Credit Union. Similarly, our longstanding partnership with AARP allows the special benefit of being able to join with specially discounted membership rates, a benefit unavailable without your JACL membership.

As we approach the convention this year, these are some of the many different partnerships we will be celebrating and recognizing. They are all important and fundamental to the work we do and the successes we have.

Be sure to register for the 2021 Virtual Convention, “Communities Forged Under Fire,” through the JACL website at https://jacl.org/2021-national-convention.

David Inoue is executive director of the JACL. He is based in the organization’s Washington, D.C., office.

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