Guest Post by Helen Gym
Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym marches for LGBT Pride at the Democratic National Convention.
The biggest political event of the year — the Democratic National Convention — just wrapped up in my home city of Philadelphia, and I wanted to offer some reflections on what a moment we're in as a nation and as an Asian American movement.
Last year I ran for citywide office in Philadelphia — a major leap for someone who not only felt far more at home in grassroots mobilizing but as someone who often felt politics had limited impact when communities were so deeply marginalized and often under siege. We were always too busy mobilizing, developing and getting out our messages, and clarifying policy priorities.
But after two decades of doing this work, our communities were ready for change and poised to lead the charge. Organizations had matured, no longer newcomers to the political scene. Asian Americans United, my political home, had just marked 30 years of organizing in low-income and new immigrant communities. New leadership revitalized our networks; and community-led independent media meant we could tell our stories faster, more creatively and just as loudly as in the mainstream.
Most importantly, the issues that drove us — mass incarceration and deportation, the dismantling of our public schools, gentrification, rising poverty, and anti-immigrant and racial injustices — pulled us together with diverse communities in building broad-based justice coalitions which were moving faster than our politics — putting us on the front lines of solutions, and not just of protests.
This is the movement that I came out of, and it's a movement that swept me into office as Philadelphia's first Asian American Democrat and first Asian American woman on City Council.
But it's also an example of our times as our communities — and our politics — continue to evolve.