Following the mold of the Black Leadership and Latinx Leadership forums, 15 students launched the Asian-Pacific Islander Leadership Forum on March 19 to champion their community’s interests at Georgetown.
Even without formal recognition from the university, the group’s contribution to the university’s cultural ecosystem underscores the power of student mobilization. APILF’s approach to advocacy provides a model that other underrepresented communities could emulate to heighten their visibility on campus.
One of the chief recognitions of APILF is that the experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders are not monolithic and deserve advocacy on a more granular, nuanced basis. While other organizations catering to Asian identities at Georgetown tend to be focused on East Asian backgrounds, APILF recognizes there is no singular Asian experience and incorporates Pacific Islander narratives in its programming.
Beyond Asian and Pacific Islander students, APILF’s creation highlights the need for distinct groups to confront challenges within different communities. For instance, unlike their black and Latinx peers, Asian-Americans are often saddled with the model minority myth, which assumes the group is immune from the socio-economic challenges facing other people of color. For other communities, from Native American to disabled students, this form of coalition-building can ensure distinct interests are represented even if they fall outside the radar of the greater Georgetown community.
But a crucial aspect of APILF’s model is its focus on intersectionality, as evidenced by its upcoming events spotlighting black-South Asian solidarity at Black House and shared Filipino-Latinx heritage at Casa Latina. This collaboration signals the commitment of one community to supporting another, as well as building links between shared cultural experiences. For instance, while the plight of undocumented immigration is often associated with the Latinx community, Asians and Pacific Islanders without documentation can also encounter hostility and vulnerability under the new administration.
This editorial board believes the creation of the Asian-Pacific Islander Leadership Forum benefits not only the communities involved, but also enriches the cultural landscape for other groups seeking to build coalitions for their interests. The APILF’s model, which combines an introspective approach with partnerships with other cultural communities on campus, expands on the groundwork of the Black Leadership Forum and Latinx Leadership Forum to potentially create spaces for other marginalized groups.
We urge other communities to model the creation of APILF and to recognize that they can drive meaningful conversations even while operating outside an official university capacity. The only materials necessary for promoting a group’s visibility are motivated individuals and the drive to bring them together.
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