jul 19, 1993 - 1993
Establishment of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Focusing on environmental justice within Asian and Pacific Islander communities, the establishment of this organization was an important landmark for Asian Americans in that it integrated a social justice lense into how the environment is perceived. Thus, their environmental activism worked with a broader perspective, taking into account how race and class are determinants of exposure to toxic waste and substances, especially within the Asian and Pacific Islander community. One of their goals was to do “base building work” in that they wanted to create social change from the bottom up. This organization focused primarily on the Laotian community and more specifically on teenage Laotian girls. APEN established Asian Youth Advocates (AYA) and the Laotian Organizing Project (LOP) in 1995, focussing on leadership development in young Laotian girls. LOP aimed to empower this second generation and increase their awareness to environmental justice issues. The second generation of Asian Americans had a unique role in the Asian American movement as they had the social and political capacities that many from the first generation did not. They had political and social rights, regardless of citizenship status; they had the ability to participate in the democratic political process; they had internalized political values of collective action; they shared a common struggle with other communities of color. With these capacities, strong leadership, and political efficacy, the second generation of Asian Americans had immense potential in continuing the achievement of justice and self-determination that the Asian American movement fought for in its peak. The fact that APEN recognized the important role the next generation played in the movement and was able to tap into that community and facilitate their growth is a tremendous achievement for the Asian American community. Not only did this movement bring environmental and social justice to the Asian American community, but as the second generation became more engaged with politics and environmental justice activism, they also redefined what it meant to be Asian in America.
Added to timeline: