By Katrina Dizon Mariategue
SEARAC celebrated its 40th birthday at our second Moving Mountains Equity Summit this month in Sacramento surrounded by social justice warriors, advocates, community members, allies, and friends. From powerful panels and workshops that addressed a variety of topics from community healing to elder caregiving, to moving spoken word performances, inspiring speeches, an intergenerational dance party, and an anti-deportation rally in conjunction with many others across the country, this summit reminded me of the importance of SEARAC’s work, not only in pushing for policy change, but in building community.
In conjunction with SEARAC’s 40th birthday, I also celebrated my 4th birthday as a staff person this year. I reflect on my time at this organization to assess my favorite moments—the bright spots—that make the often times overwhelming and seemingly neverending loses, worth it. While I look back on every successful advocacy training, congressional briefing, report, campaign, legislative victory, and community organizing win with fondness and pride, it is the community that we’ve worked with, the relationships we’ve built (both internally and externally) and strengthened through time, that shine brightest.
Building community is not easy, and rarely is it ever a smooth process. It takes time, trust, patience, forgiveness (of self and others), resilience, and humility. In my four years at SEARAC, I’ve seen this cycle of building and re-building relationships and community. So if you ask me what my bright spots have been, I would say they are the people I’ve gotten to know and respect through this important work that binds us all. From karaoke with the SEARAC team, dancing with friends at the Southeast Asian Freedom Movement (SEAFN), swapping childrearing tips and advice with our movement mamas (and getting to play with their babies), yummy vegan meals with the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC), planning groundbreaking convenings with our AAPIs Beyond Bars partners, and so much more—thank you for letting this Filipina be an ally and a partner in your community.
Here’s to another 40 years of SEARAC growing, evolving, and continuing to bridge our communities together.
Katrina Dizon Mariategue is SEARAC’s Director of National Policy. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.