AAPI Heritage Month graphic. Creative Commons.

Last year for AAPI Heritage Month (still kinda lightweight trying to decide if I even like this idea of “heritage” months or not), “On the Fence Line” chose to honor APICAG founder, and one of our many unsung heroes, Andy Pacificar.  

While there are many people from our community, like our dear friends at ACRS and API Chaya, continuing to do amazing work and deserving to be celebrated year round, this year we have chosen to honor our youth and their unlimited potential—yes, THOSE knuckleheads! 

As I sit in my cell and write this, I realize for the first time in a very long time, I’m truly optimistic about our future. It brings joy to my heart to see the amazing work our youth do everyday—inside and outside these walls.  

Whether it’s leading demonstrations at local high schools in the community to demand Palestinian liberation, to developing political education curriculum at a study hall to learn and teach how to demand prisoner liberation, the movement continues to be led by, and belongs to, our youth. 

It is our youth that will one day cultivate a world where mass incarceration is no longer an issue that the system shames us into ignoring. And it is our youth who will lead the fight to dismantle the anti-Blackness that plagues our society today. 

However, it’s on all of us to put in the labor of love right now that will eventually pave the pathway to our beautiful future. And in that sense, this installment is as much a call to action as it is a feature. 

It is a call to our elders to not be afraid of change. It’s a call to my generation to bridge generational gaps. But most of all, it is a call to our youth to always remember that you are enough… 

To our youth, you are commended not only for what you have accomplished thus far, but what we all know you are capable of and what you will accomplish. This is for you—our future:  

“Our Future”

Our Future, will you remember our names?
In your world that’s no longer incapacitated by chains
And when all that remains of their prison yards and solitary cages
Are your community gardens and libraries telling stories of your ancestors’ sacrifices
Our Future, will you remember our names?
Will you remember that time in 2021 when our candidate was too fly for their City Council?
And when they went low, fuck going high, we stayed ten toes to the ground, too
Tainted by a time when a stolen life was paid for with another life
Coerced to believe that two wrongs could ever make it right
Our Future, will you remember our names?
We pray that our bonds are not our only bonds
That love will somehow bring us to you
As the love of those before us protects us
We resist now to propel and protect you
Our Future
The time will come to rest
But please remember our names…
So they can never do you the same
Our Future, will you remember our names?

Until next time, keep dreaming!

*** 

Felix Sitthivong is a journalist, organizer, member of Empowerment Avenue, and advisor for the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group (APICAG). Through APICAG, Sitthivong has organized immigration, social justice and youth outreach forums and has designed Asian American studies courses, an intersectional feminism 101 class and an anti-domestic violence program. You can reach him with questions for “On the Fence Line” via Securus (WA #354579) or write to him at Felix Sitthivong #354579, PO Box 900, Shelton, WA 98584.    

Previous articlePlay imagines a “Mean Girls”-style rivalry between 11th century Japanese literary geniuses Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shonagon
Next article‘The Dreamweavers’ is a middle grade fantasy novel based on Chinese history