By Nodyia Fedrick
Northwest Asian Weekly
If you check out the OCA-Greater Seattle’s website you’ll read a standard description of what the 20-year-old nonprofit is about: social justice and civil rights for its Asian community. But speak to its members and you’re sure to hear the message come alive.
“When there’s injustice being done, we’re going to stand up for Asian Pacific Americans’ rights. We’re not going to be silent anymore,” said Douglas Chin, co-secretary of the OCA.
One of the wrongs that the OCA, along with the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, was recently successful in righting was the Regret Resolution, which expresses regret for the Anti-Chinese legislation passed by the Washington Territory and previous Seattle City Councils in the late 1800s. This was a monumental recognition to the Chinese community.
In addition to the Regret Resolution, they have been asking the City of Seattle to erect a memorial on the waterfront where Chinese people were loaded on a dock and shipped out during the 1886 riots.
“It’s a slow process,” said Chin.
Now, as just one of many attempts to preserve their heritage, OCA is looking to reverberate its message throughout Washington’s classrooms.
“We reviewed Washington State history books used by the Seattle Public Schools and it has serious flaws, not only pertaining to Asian-Pacific Islanders,” said Chin.
“If you ask historians what was the most historical event in Washington State, they’ll say it’s the coming of the railroad … Two-thirds of workers were Chinese and they don’t even mention that.” The Seattle OCA chapter plans on working with the Seattle Public Schools Social Studies staff to rectify this and other factual errors by adding supplemental material to its curriculum on Asian Pacific Islanders in this state.
As a way of educating the general public, they are working to produce a video on the Asian Pacific American fight for racial equality within Washington. The video is being funded by a grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and should be completed in a couple of months.
These are just some of the large-scale projects being tackled.
On a more local level, they are looking to rename the International Children’s Park after Donnie Chin, who had the idea for the park. Chin was an active member of the Asian Pacific community before suffering a fatal gunshot in July 2015. “He was selfless, caring, hard-working, and modest; a true hero for all of us in the Asian American community,” which was noted in the OCA’s Statement on the Death of Donald “Donnie” Chin on their website.
These endeavors and more are all aimed with one message in mind: keep the Asian-American voice ever-present.
“There’s always issues going on, there’s always issues coming up, our job is to be there when they do come up.” (end)
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Nodyia Fedrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.