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Asian Left Forum Adopts New Strategy, Refines Mission

by George Iechika McKinney |
March 1, 2000
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Berkeley, CA - The second national meeting of the Asian Left Forum (ALF) was held here in late February at the University of California.

"There's a lot of momentum coming out of this summit," said San Francisco activist Shin Yi Tsai. "People are very excited about the ALF jump-starting a new era in Asian American politics. There was a lot of diversity in views, ethnicity and experience. In 2 to 4 years, I hope we can build on this new structure to bring together a much more powerful mass movement."

This meeting brought together a cross-section of activists organizing in the international solidarity, student and women's movements. Among the issues taken up by participants was the fight against anti-Asian violence, for economic justice, worker organizing, health care and many others.

The national meeting united new and veteran activists, whose experience spanned three decades of political struggles. Over 70 people attended, and, like the May 1998 meeting of the ALF, the majority were under 30 years old.

Most participants were members of Asian activist organizations. This led to an enlightening discussion on the role that individuals who were in multiracial groups could play.

After lengthy debate, membership in the ALF was redefined to be Asian organizations agreeing to the Principles of Unity. Affiliate members were defined as individuals who wanted to be a part of the national ALF, and organizations that did work that "significantly" contributed to the Asian and/or Pacific Islander (API) communities who had an API member as their representative to the ALF.

This change was seen as being more inclusive of the various struggles that individuals and organizations are engaged in. This new definition of membership altered the ALF's strategy for making political change, through the creation of a national network.

The summit went beyond the expectations of the organizers in establishing a new national structure, the creation of new communications tools, and clarifying the purpose of the Asian Left Forum. Summit participants extended the ALF's mission to provide a "central and alternative political space to promote and further develop left politics in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities." Additionally, the ALF stated that creating an "alternative to capitalism may necessitate some reform actions. However, the ALF rejects reformist ideology."

In summary, the Asian Left Forum committed itself to addressing the diverse struggles of Asian and Pacific Islanders and linking these struggles with that of other oppressed peoples such as those of the Black Radical Congress and the New Raza Left.

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