Posted by Emily Liang

“Violence. Healing. & Solidarity.” A physical and abstract atmosphere in which we acknowledge the violence in our communities, heal collectively, and stand in solidarity to spread visibility and fight against violence.

Friday, September 19, marked the second annual AAPI Women Lead #ImReady Movement Conference, which took place in the heart of Oakland Chinatown. The #ImReady movement sheds awareness about gender-based violence and sparks discourse about the intersections of our identities. Moreover, the conference provided a safe environment for AAPI women to gather together and appreciate each other’s presence, while celebrating our collective strengths and struggles.

The morning began with an intimate speech from keynote speaker, Killer Bi Nguyen, who shared her personal experiences with domestic violence. Nguyen’s resilience was highlighted through her openness with others to share her story of hardships and how she learned from those experiences. She then went on to explain her current advocacy work as an activist who is fighting for gender equality.
The next scheduled event was a panel filled with inspiring women, including Dr. Kalei Kanuha, Lolan Sevilla, Haleema Bharoocha, and Yilan Batista. They all reflected on their journey of finding solace through social justice work. Batista, specifically, mentioned her background as a Chinese immigrant who faced discrimination and exclusion upon settling in America. Her predominantly white peers ridiculed Batista for her race, so she sought out social media as a means to connect with those who shared similar experiences as her. An impressive feat for a fifteen year old, Batista currently runs an Instagram account (@asian.activiist) with over 38k followers.

As the panelists wrapped up their discussion, the Reclaiming Healing breakout sessions began. There were a variety of workshops, including ​Surrendering Self to Divine Wisdom, Healing Herbs, Introduction to Tai Chi, a​ nd​ Apology Lab. ​As I attended the Introduction to Tai Chi workshop, I learned a brief history of the purpose and significance of Tai Chi and Martial Arts. The workshop included Silk-Reeling exercises that aim to improve flexibility, joint movement, muscle relaxation, and coordination. We practiced repetitive breathing techniques to release negativity and stress. Overall, the Tai Chi workshop allowed us city-dwellers to slow down and focus on ourselves.

After lunch, I explored the Quiet Body Rooms provided at the conference, which offered healing activities like, Acupuncture, Embodied Touch, and Massage Therapy. These healing offerings required appointments, which were quickly filled with bookings. However, people were still welcome to visit the quiet rooms if they needed a break from their surroundings. Many people soaked in the calming scents of the room by lying down, sitting, or even reading a book.

Finally, the highly-anticipated Fireside Chat from Tarana Burke occurred in the auditorium. She discussed her experience navigating through her life as a woman of color, mother, and civil rights activist. She mentioned her motivation for founding the #MeToo movement, while also grappling with the many critics she faced for the movement. Her words really resonated with me because she reminded me of the large impact our intersecting identities have on our lives and the influence our words have on our peers. Her inspiring background encourages me to push forward in my advocacy work at YAC.
All in all, the #ImReady Conference was a valuable and insightful experience for me, as an Asian-American woman. I gained so much wisdom from the powerful women who gracefully shared stories of their most vulnerable times in life. I feel empowered to be an Asian American woman!