Freedom Inc. Honors and Supports the Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Community All Year Long
May is Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage month, a time when the histories of the AAPI community are recognized and celebrated. The month of May is recognized because of two key dates for the AAPI community – May 7, 1843 was the date the first Japanese immigrants settled in the United States. May 10, 1869 marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad, which was largely constructed by Chinese workers.1
Throughout the month of May, various organizations in the Greater Madison Area have hosted activities in honor of AAPI Heritage Month. One such organization is Freedom, Inc. Freedom, Inc. is a Black and Southeast Asian non-profit organization that works with low- to no-income communities of color. The organization’s AAPI base is Southeast Asian women, youth, and LGBTQ folx. Freedom, Inc., defines Southeast Asians through a political lens, meaning individuals from countries that were directly impacted by the war in Southeast Asia (Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam).
This year, Freedom, Inc. hosted their first annual Keeb Kwm Hmoob Yog Kuv (I am Hmong History) dinner. A majority of the Freedom, Inc. base is Hmong, and the Keeb Kwm Hmoob Yog Kuv dinner was a celebration of the members' heritage, a chance to share stories, and the ultimate goal was to empower the generations to come. During the event, there were six awards presented to community members that have and continue to keep Hmong women, youth, and LGBTQ communities safe – you can learn more about the award recipients on the Freedom, Inc. Facebook page!
In addition to the Keeb Kwm Hmoob Yog Kuv dinner, Freedom, Inc. focused on educating their staff, members, and the larger community about Southeast Asian history. Southeast Asians are one group of AAPIs that does not have written history, written by their own people. In May, the organization focuses on helping Southeast Asians have more tools to learn about their own history. Along with history education, Freedom, Inc., continues to share about issues that Southeast Asian communities face, such as poverty, deportation, gender-based violence, and more.
The work on behalf of the AAPI community is not limited to May for Freedom, Inc. The organization provides a wide array of culturally relevant services and programming for their members to improve the living conditions, preserve culture, develop leadership, and build power. Some examples of their current programming include:
Nkauj Hmoob – a culturally and linguistically specific program for Hmoob girls (ages 11 to 17 years old). The program is a safe space to develop strong Hmoob women leaders that can create social change in their own lives, at home, and in the community.
The Viv Ncaus Dance Troupe – an arts activism program for Hmoob girls ages 7 to 18 years old. The goal of the program is to build positive relationships between Hmoob girls and connect them to social justice movements through cultural art, music, and dance.
The Hmoob Women’s Group – a brave space for Hmoob women (ages 18 years and older), to build meaningful relationships with each other, to deepen their understanding about social justice issues, and take action to transform the community.
Wisdom Program – a culturally specific program for Hmong elders who are survivors of gender-based violence. Through this program Hmong elders get to build family, heal and learn from each other. The goal of this group is to learn about social justice issues, develop elder leaders, and create community for Hmong elders.
People Like Us (PLUS) – a program specifically for LGBTQI+ Black and Southeast Asian people. PLUS provides a safe space for people to come and talk about what Queer Justice looks like to them. The program offers leadership development and political education for participants through a Queer Justice lens so that they have the skills to make deep social changes in their community.
The AFP Greater Madison Chapter is so grateful to Freedom, Inc. for sharing about the great work they do during AAPI Heritage Month and throughout the year!
If you are interested in supporting the AAPI community, Freedom Inc. suggests these three easy steps:
- learn about AAPI community and their history
- share and uplift organization events
- donate to AAPI organizations so they can continue the life changing services they provide and who work to end issues in AAPI communities.
Read more about Freedom, Inc’s story by visiting their website here.