Thoughts: Elizabeth Sunwoo

Re: Report From The Front - L.A. - Show Us The Change

Hi Alan & company,

I agree with you. During the immigrant rights protests in the last 5-8 years, we've been training tons of community members in march organization and work with legal observers from NLG. I know that people are burnt from the election but I know the president of NLG in LA. I wonder if he can get some folks out there for Saturday at least.

Also, I think that mass marching is great but we're lacking a real target. I don't think the Mormon church is a good one.  It makes sense for us to take away their exempt status but if we want to move people, its not a good public target. 

I know that many civil rights groups felt this way but none of or very little of the No on 8 resources for commercials, etc. were targeted to ethnic communities.  If we targetted the Latino community alone, it would have helped put us over the top in No votes.  Latinos came out 50/50 on this issue.  I think with the recent immigrant rights movement upsurging here, we could have really spoken to their core issues for equal rights for all.

I know many locally grown organizers in LA who've been organizing for years on the Black, Latino, Asian and youth communities trying to move their communities on the issue of gay rights.  Yes, they are not where they should be on gay rights but truthfully, there has been very little collaboration/coalition between mainstream LGBTQ organizations and people of color groups even progressive ones.  Many of our organizations are struggling to move our communities to be progressive on gay rights on little resources and little support for years.  

I believe that we all deserve the right to be angry. I AM!  I don't think we ran a strategic campaign at all and the yes people did.  Now is the time to reflect and critique but organize, unite and move forward. 

I just heard today that Magic Johnson, Monique and some leaders in the African American churches were trying to get people to vote No on 8 but why didn't they show up in the mainstream?  I know that on very little resources, Asian Pacific Islander Equality put on press conferences and made rounds in different Asian languages for No on 8 without support from the main campaign.  Just yesterday, my friend was debating the official spanish language Yes on 8 representative on Telemundo representing her immigrant rights group. This is her 5th debate running on her own organization's little resources.  Where did the $35 million go?

I brought 7 organizers who spoke Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese and Korean to phonebank against 8 and they told us they're only targetting english speakers.  meanwhile the yes campaign was precinct walking with spanish precinct walkers in our neighborhoods!

the Yes ran a strategic campaign using lies and they canvassed even in LA county in various languages.  I just think it it easy to scapegoat POC communities when we did very little to build coalition with them or provide resources.  Its basic organizing and we didn't do it right.

That is just my two cents.

It is important than ever to use this critique and data to fight stronger and offensively rather than defensively.  The question now is what can we do to fight back strategically and politicize all these folks coming out to protests because this fight might need to be sustained over a long period of time.

Elizabeth Sunwoo, Community Organizer, Los Angeles, CA
11/08/2008


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