Week 6: Finding Commonality

Jocelyn Chi, 2018 CAUSE Leadership Academy

For this week’s civic leadership session, we were able to hear from panels of speakers from the healthcare and non-profit fields, both areas that I am greatly interested and passionate about. The healthcare panel revealed to me the intricate difficulties that come with trying to service a community as complex and diverse as the Asian American community.

Becky Lee speaking to the 2018 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Our first panel consisted of representatives from the healthcare sector. Becky Lee, a policy specialist for the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, discussed the various public policies that affect the community such as Title 10, mental health, and Census 2020, which will include a citizenship question. The citizenship question could create uneasiness for undocumented immigrants and can create issues of non-response, leading to an undercount of their communities. This would result in less funding for our district and the Los Angeles county already has issues of non-response from its residents.

Paul Song speaking to the 2018 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Next, Dr. Paul Song, a biotechnology executive director, discussed his passion for pushing for a single payer healthcare system. He explained that it would take away the for-profit motive in our healthcare system and make it easier for doctors to handle administration. However, some doctors are against this proposal because they don’t want to risk getting paid less. Dr. Song explained that the tradeoff for not having to deal with many insurance companies.

Wenli Jen speaking to the 2018 CAUSE Leadership Academy

Dr. Jen then shared her experience with working with various communities. She said the most important thing when you are trying to build a community partnership is knowing how to talk to every individual. It is important to know the language, how to speak to them, and to meet them at their perspective. Another issue she presented is the a stark difference between the Asian and Asian American identities and how the diversity of each ethnic group in the Asian American community leads to complexity. Each group has their own needs and opinions and addressing them all is a difficult and ongoing challenge.

Similarly, our cohort also encountered this issue when we were creating our PSA video. Our PSA video is based on different communities in Los Angeles and asking individuals what change they would like to see in their community. However, since our PSA video is so short, it was difficult to decide which communities to focus on because we wanted all communities to be included. Each community has a different issue that they were concerned about and it would be unfair to not include their opinion. Our idea for the project was to unite these Asian American communities to vote, yet, we struggled to find an overarching topic that all Asian Americans care about.

A speaker from our civic leadership session experienced this frustration as well, stating “I would give you a million dollars if you could figure out what’s a common issue Asian Americans can unite about”. Though we still don’t know at the moment, I truly hope the API community continues to work in unison to find the common issues we can all unite behind.