Wai Yee Poon

July 6, 2017
Image description: Wai Yee, wearing black, faces forward at the camera with drawn animal ears and whiskers.

Image description: Wai Yee, wearing black, faces forward at the camera with drawn animal ears and whiskers.

WAI YEE POON, a self described badass bitch and tender hard femme, is an active APIENC volunteer as well as a community organizer for Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA).

Growing up with immigrant working-class parents, Wai Yee witnessed inequality in the way her family was treated at work, at school, and also at home. And yet, when she went back to Hong Kong, she realized how much privilege they had as someone who had American money and spoke English fluently. This motivated Wai Yee to spend a lot of time investigating the roots of this contradiction.

In college, Wai Yee’s interest led her to study translation. When she started working with community organizations, she was introduced to language justice. Wai Yee was drawn to how language justice is rooted in community-based knowledge and practices. This language justice framework continues to ground her in how she does her organizing work today.

While in New York, Wai Yee volunteered for CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, which led her to her first organizing position. The experience further connected her to the larger social justice community in NYC and taught her everything they know today about how to doorknock, phonebank, and facilitate meetings. Through developing relationships with CAAAV members and Chinatown tenants, Wai Yee saw the complexities of this work and how our past, present, and future are connected beyond this land and her current imaginings of community. These experiences and relationships to everyone she’s met and built community with propel her to continue expanding.

As a current APIENC volunteer, Wai Yee loves the people and ability to support her friends in their work and hopes “for us to be free and find love however we may define it.” One of her most memorable moments at APIENC was singing “Reflection” with MLin and other APIENC volunteers at the APIENC Quarterly Potluck this past March.

Fun Fact: Wai Yee is very excited for the South Korean version of “Criminal Minds.”