By Peggy Chapman
Northwest Asian Weekly
At only 26 years old, Sarah Baker has an impressive resume of supporting diversity. Not only is she the president-elect of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Seattle Chapter, she also serves as Student Body President for North Seattle College. She also served as a senior representative for the JACL Youth Council for the Northwest. She has a healthy roster of contribution and attempt to bring together people from all intersections of life, or as she says, “getting people into one space.”
What propelled her to be so engaged in issues of diversity and community?
It was something she wished she had when she was young—community, and just being able to find that space where she could relate with others—and sorting out the confusion of not knowing exactly where you fit in.
Sarah is Japanese, Scottish, and Irish. She was also born and raised in Seattle and wonders sometimes if she “takes the city for granted.” She relates a story of a recent conference for technical and community colleges, where there were break-out sessions, but it was suggested to work in groups based on ethnicity. This was a question she had always faced when she was young, and still faces as an adult. Where should she fit in? Her contribution to address the question continues today. “We should shape our identity; own who you are.”
Early in her college career she took social justice classes, and realized she had a passion for “bringing together communities of color.”
One of the most recent projects she is proud of is an API LGBTQ event that was hosted on June 13th and 14th. The goal of the event was to build the foundation for an API PFLAG (parents, family and friends of lesbians and gays) group to be based in the Seattle area. Her intention was to create a safe space for API LGBTQ youth, their families, and anyone else within the community that might want to join. Marsha Aizumi and her son Aiden traveled to Seattle as the main speakers. Born in Japan, Aiden was adopted by Marsha and her husband as a baby. Marsha’s book Two Spirits One Heart is about their journey through Aiden’s transition from female to male, and she now travels around the country sharing their inspirational story.
Baker coordinated the event and brought in the Aizumis to speak. She spent over nine months organizing the event. While Seattle is extremely LGBTQ friendly, Baker states “there are not as many places of support specifically for queer API youth and their allies. We are in contact with PFLAG delegates from our area as well as at the national level, and we are looking for other community members to become involved.”
Her next project is an API support group meeting, which is planned for Sept.14.
Aside from her work for the community, on weekends Sarah works at Seattle’s historic Pike Place Market where she has been for 11 years. In her spare time she volunteers for an after-school tutoring program working with at-risk-youth and takes a variety of dance classes. A fun fact: her favorite video game is Ocarina of Time.
What does she ultimately want to do in the future? She laughs and says people ask her that all the time. Ideally, she would like to promote civil engagement on a community level (which she seems to be successful at so far)—and then hopefully a global level.
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