A Letter from our New Director, Sammie

by Sammie Ablaza Wills | July 12, 2016

Dear community,

IMG_1727This last month has been quite a whirlwind, and we at APIENC have been reeling from the mix of events that have sent us into tailspins of disappointment, fear, sadness, and anger. From the horrific violence against LGBTQ black and brown folks in Orlando, to the attacks in Baghdad, Istanbul, and Dhaka, to the very recent murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile‬, there is a lot to mourn and rage over in our world right now, and frankly, we are still processing. It is hard to find the words when our communities, our allies, and our loved ones are under attack.
We strive to be an organization that can provide space for reflection and action, rage and love, joy and grief.

This month, as we mourn and find ways to better hold each other, we are also finding growth and triumph with each other. We organized an API contingent at Trans March in partnership with Gabriela SF and Chinese Progressive Association, marching with over 100 API people and allies. Our 7th summer internship has brought Anna, Connie, Jo, Maria, and Nancy into our lives, and our 2nd API Queer Justice Leadership Exchange Summer Series is underway. The Resilience Archives workshop series is about to start, our artist collective is prepping for its very first exhibit, and our Trans Justice working group is creating amazing curriculum, relevant to our API communities. APIENC is truly abuzz with all of this energy and passion.

This past month also marked a significant leadership transition for our organization. On June 30th, Monna completed her last day as Executive Director, and on July 1st I moved into this role. When I first joined this organization three years ago as a summer intern, I experienced the transformative power of deep trust, care, and interdependence. As a young, queer, non-binary Pilipinx person, APIENC affirmed all the different parts of my identities and challenged me as a leader, organizer, and community member.

Three years since my start with the organization, our organizations and movements have grown in ways previously unimaginable. Unfortunately, so many LGBTQ API people are still struggling to survive in the face of daily violence and oppression. It is critical, now, more than ever, that we are dedicated to pursuits of liberation that transform our systems, our communities, and ourselves. Moving into this new role, I am increasingly committed to organizing from a place of vulnerability, compassion, and abundance. I am committed to dreaming and co-creating new worlds, where we can find both safety and justice. I am excited to be doing this work with you.

With love and in solidarity,
Sammie Ablaza Wills