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OCA and APA Advocates Looking to Move Forward with D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry
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OCA and APA Advocates Looking to Move Forward with D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry

24 May 2012

Tom Hayashi | Executive Director
202 223 5500 |

WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the political, social, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), applauds Washington, D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry Jr. for publicly acknowledging and apologizing for his problematic statements previously made regarding the APA community.

In today’s joint press conference with the APA community, Mr. Barry publicly acknowledged his unfortunate statements with sincerity and directly apologized to the community. Taking an active role in advocating for APAs, Executive Director Tom Hayashi also participated in the press conference, touching on the importance of continuing the discourse that is crucial to moving forward. OCA is pleased that a community dialogue has been established in an effort to address Mr. Barry’s concerns while we work in solidarity to improve economic and educational conditions of all citizens within his constituency. It is high time for APAs to stop being polite or deferential; having said that, this does not mean being disrespectful, rude, or inappropriate. The outcome of this event reflects the collective resolve of our community to stand up against insensitive, xenophobic, and unfounded claims.

While the dialogue between Mr. Barry and the APA community is symbolically important, this event must not be an end all or be all for race relations. This marks the beginning of an effort, and more importantly a commitment, to understand the deeper issues that plague our communities. Holding this press conference and the opportunity to express our hurt and concerns directly with the Councilman and members of the community is the easy part of our journey. As we had agreed to today, so much must and should be done in the months and years ahead to address how we can come together to move forward without the pitting and the blaming.

As we struggle as a nation with an economy in recession, issues of educational and economic opportunity continue to stress race relations. Our resolve locally in Washington, D.C., as well as on a national scale, is strong because leadership and relationship building between communities of color are pursued with integrity and solidarity. We must come to a fundamental understanding that we are all Americans; that APAs contribute to their community as much as everyone else. Moving forward is not about pointing to who is more oppressed or privileged. It is about addressing racism squarely for what it is and to overcome it.

Our next step, as an APA community, is to get beyond the personalities and to engage in crucial discussions on how we can address specific issues around economic development and educational opportunities through regularly scheduled meetings sponsored by the D.C. Commission for APIAs. As a national membership driven civil rights organization, OCA will continue to fight injustices and seek to build stronger relationships across communities locally and nationally. For their national collaborative effort, we would like to thank the ongoing support of the Japanese American Citizens League, Asian American Justice Center, Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. We would also like to thank all members, donors, and allies for supporting our work.

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Washington, DC 20036
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