With a shared commitment to advance democracy through research and alliances with civil rights organizations and progressive social movements, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin have partnered to pilot a UCLA Activist-in-Residence Program.
They have announced that Lisa Hasegawa and Funmilola Fagbamila are the inaugural 2017 Activist Fellows. They will be in residence on the UCLA campus during Winter Quarter, which began Jan. 4 and ends March 31.
“Our organizations recognize that the work of social change is demanding,” the two institutions said in a statement. “It is our objective to help sustain the activists involved in this work. The collaboration will help strengthen the infrastructure of social transformation by providing activists with the time and space to recharge and to reflect upon a complex challenge facing their communities, while also allowing UCLA undergraduate students to develop or strengthen their own commitment to social justice.”
The Asian American Studies Center (AASC) Activist Fellow, Hasegawa, served as the executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Development (CAPACD) for the past 15 years and stepped down in December. Previously, she was the community liaison of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans Pacific Islanders at the end of the Clinton Administration.
For her entire career, she has worked at the intersections of civil and human rights, housing, health and community organizing. Hasegawa is committed to leveraging her cross-disciplinary networks across the country for UCLA students, faculty, and larger community. Returning to the AASC as the activist-in-residence is a homecoming for her. While she was an undergraduate at UCLA, she started her career in community activism through an AASC internship at the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture.
The AASC Activist Fellow is made possible through the Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee Endowment in Social Justice and Immigration Studies. The endowment was established in honor of the late UCLA scholar Yuji Ichioka and his wife, activist-scholar Emma Gee, and supports engaging leading activist scholars who are pursing research that provides new analysis of the significant historic and contemporary role of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in American life.
“Lisa has an extraordinary knack for bridging the worlds of policy making, community practice and academic research,” said AASC Interim Director Marjorie Kagawa Singer. “The center is truly excited to work with Lisa in addressing social inequality in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities through a variety of events, such as presentations, class visits, workshops, panels, activist projects, and much more.”
“We are on the brink of a very challenging period for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, undocumented immigrants, communities of color, low-income and queer communities,” said Hasegawa. “This fellowship will give me the opportunity to reflect on my 20 years in D.C., as well as a chance to think critically, with fresh perspective, about what we need to do in the next 20 years to create systemic equity. I look forward to facilitating lively dialogue and concerted action among networks of activists, advocates and practitioners, together with students and faculty.”
As part of her fellowship, Hasegawa will document achievements and challenges over the past two decades in advocacy and organizing efforts in underserved AAPI communities. Additionally, she plans to engage students, faculty and community activists to strengthen a shared perspective about where Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and racial justice movements intersect historically and what’s at stake in the present day.
Fagbamila, an activist and community organizer with over eight years of experience in Los Angeles County, is the 2017 Irvine Fellow on Urban Life. She has been an organizer with Black Lives Matter since its inception, centering its work on policing, mass incarceration, and the overall physical health and wellness in poor black and brown communities.
As the arts and culture director for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Fagbamila’s work sits at the intersection of blackness and freedom. While she was a graduate student in UCLA’s African American Studies Department, she also worked with a number of campus and community groups, primarily organizing around student rights, promoting faculty and student solidarity, and hosting educational events on the increased privatization of public education in California.
The Irvine Fellow on Urban Life is a residence program funded by the James Irvine Foundation established to bring to the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin scholar-activists who will undertake social movement research and pedagogy directly concerned with equity at the urban scale.
Ananya Roy, director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy, considers the Activist-in-Residence program “an important anchor for the work of the institute.”
She continued, “It brings to the campus leading public intellectuals and foregrounds the significance of learning directly from social movements and community organizations. We are especially thrilled that our inaugural activist-in-residence is Funmilola Fagbamila whose work with Black Lives Matter LA connects performance art, scholarship, and activism to create new public spheres and new modes of dissent. We know that in particular our students will benefit tremendously from her presence and will be inspired to recast their own engagements in dialogue with her.”
Fagbamila explains that her scholarship “explores the complexity of black identity and ideological posturing in the context of Western world.” During her residency, she plans not only to produce a curriculum and host campus workshops regarding inter-ideological communication and intracommunal difference but also complete her stage play, “The Intersection,” based on engagement across ideological communities.
A welcome reception for the two activist fellows will be held on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 4:30 p.m. at the Luskin Commons. RSVP at www.eventbrite.com/e/welcome-reception-for-2017-ucla-activist-in-residence-fellows-tickets-30878118283.
For nearly 50 years, the UCLA Asian American Studies Center has enriched and informed not only the UCLA community, but also an array of broader audiences and sectors in the state, the nation, and internationally about the long neglected history, rich cultural heritage, and present position of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in our society.
The Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin advances radical democracy in an unequal world through research, critical thought, and alliances with social movements and racial justice activism. The work of the institute analyzes and transforms the divides and dispossessions of our times, in the university and in our cities, across global South and global North. Launched in February 2016, the institute support research developed in partnership with social movements and community-based organizing.