by Empower Yolo
October 22, 2015
Asians, amirite? What do we know about our Eastern brother’s and sister’s beyond their strange foods and the stereotypes American’s lop onto an entire continent? How about, they are one of the most underserved populations in the US and they are least likely to seek out social services. The worst part is, the US government assumes because Asian ethnic minorities do not seek out social services, they must not need them. The issue is: the Asian ethnicities living in the US are in dire need of social services.
Due to language barriers, lack of cultural competency and programs that are specified towards Asian ethnic minorities, we are never going to serve people who need help the most.
At Empower Yolo, a mainstream domestic violence and sexual assault shelter in Yolo County, we have inserted ourselves in API political, social and religious spaces as a community ally. It is important to go in listening and keeping our mouths shut as we educate ourselves on the complex issues arising from the API community. It’s not easy when you’re an organization that has been serving the Yolo County community since the 70’s and you’re told that you’re not doing enough.
Empower Yolo has opened its doors to criticism from API leaders, joined the APIA Roots conference at UC Davis and the Aloha festival, facilitated workshops aimed towards college students and sat in the halls of the Korean American Church. We are listening and we are hearing the messages of what is needed and learning how to offer culturally competent spaces. This past year, Empower Yolo has served a whopping 300% more API community members than years before. It is not the complexities of the “Asian culture” that we are catering to; we are serving the complex individual on their journey to regain stability in their lives. We know that domestic violence and sexual assault do not discriminate on ethnicity, gender or class. It is imperative to us to address the needs of the community and offer perspectives to community members on their journey to us and their journey after us.
Some would argue that we are being sensitive and stretching ourselves, but the rich ethnic minorities changing and re-shaping Yolo County are an integral part of the Yolo community. It is not a stretch for us to want to change ourselves to help our community members.