Submitted by Friends of Maia Espinoza.
Civil rights and community leaders discussed how we can come together as one people to make a tangible, positive impact in communities of color, especially Black communities, during a virtual town hall meeting hosted by the Alliance for Persecuted Peoples Worldwide ( APPWW ), Sunday evening.
Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, moderated the town hall with panelists Eddie Rye Jr., Debadutta Dash and Maia Espinoza.
The invigorating and thought-provoking exchange of issues, ideas and potential solutions was watched live by over 16,000 viewers across the United States. The event was carried by TV Asia Telugu and NTV, the largest broadcasting platform for the South Asian diaspora in the United States.
Topics included the racial challenges communities are facing, the effectiveness of affirmative action, reducing funding for police and the role of media in community building. Most questioners wanted to know what specific actions they could do to improve race relations in their communities.
Eddie Rye Jr., civil rights leader and recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service, reminded everyone that “the United States is not just a nation of immigrants but a nation of Native Americans, descendants of Black slaves, and immigrants.” He emphasized the need for more education about Black history and the civil rights movement across all communities.
Maia Espinoza, a small business owner, educator, and executive director of the Center for Latino Leadership, expressed the need to bring more technical skills into classrooms. Maia spoke in support of choice schools for students in the state of Washington as one of the ways to improve education outcomes for all students but especially for students of color.
Debadutta Dash, a community leader, ex-commissioner for WA State Commission on Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs and founder co-chair WA State and India Trade Action Committee (WASITRAC), repeatedly emphasized the role of youth in stepping up to drive change. “The next generation should ask elected representatives bold questions on why something is the way it is and how we can change it. We cannot just rely on the government to pass bills and policies. Communities need to come together, like [we are] today and drive change,” said Dash while addressing a question from Shiksha, one of the many students who attended the town hall.
Tanika Padhye, President of the Redmond City Council, asked the panel how the city could improve community engagement to bridge these divides. She was encouraged to find creative ways to educate and entice people to participate in cross cultural and civic events.
Several students from across the country participated in this discussion and posed incisive questions to the panel.
APPWW will work with the panelists and other community leaders in the coming days to strategize on next steps. The focus will be on creating opportunities for economic inclusion and improving education outcomes for Black and other communities of color.
“There is a time for talk and a time for action. Now is the time for action. We need to come together as a community, listen to each other, learn from each other and work with each other to make a difference” said Ram Dixit, one of the founding directors of APPWW.
View the entire recorded event at tinyurl.com/appwwlive
APPWW’s mission is to be a voice for the voiceless from around the world who are in our local communities and have experienced or seen persecution of their friends and family due to their skin color, caste, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. APPWW’s directors operate on the principles and belief that all beings are divine, and it is the responsibility of every one of us to speak up for those who are discriminated, oppressed, or denied their basic fundamental human rights. Even a single person who is oppressed or persecuted is one too many.
Alliance for Persecuted Peoples Worldwide is a registered 501c(3) non-profit in the state of Washington.