Last updated 2/15/2018

Focus

What is the purpose of your org?

To gather Chinese folks to fight for the liberation of all oppressed people of color through unlearning, re-learning, and action.

Through our bi-weekly Dinner & Discussion Plus events, we do dinner, discussion, and activities that reveal systems of oppression and help us work towards alternatives. Our vision is for a politically engaged Chinese community that works together with other oppressed groups to replace capitalist white supremacy with systems of inclusion.

What are the major projects the org is working on currently?

Our longest running project right now is holding bi-weekly “Dinner and Discussion Plus” events. We do dinner, discussion, and activities that reveal systems of oppression and help us work towards alternatives. We also share our discussions in the Rad Chinese Podcast.

We have made this event into a replicable process called the “Rad-Group Kickstart Blueprint” that people in any town can use to provide an important space for folks to build relationships and resolve for action.

Using this process saves a lot of time. What would otherwise take 20-30 hours of unstandardized work becomes 4-5 hours of work to throw the event, and a standard 3-5 hours to edit and publish podcast episodes. If you are interested in learning more, send a note to alex@radchinese.com.

Right now, we have 2 Discussion and Discussion Plus groups: one general group for young Chinese and another group for folks of masculinity to investigate emasculation myths.

We are also investigating projects listed on our projects page as well as other unlisted ones.

How did the org decide to work on these projects? What kinds of decisions still need to be made for these projects? How will these decisions be made?

1. Dinner and Discussion Plus creates space where Chinese people can really connect with each other over their identity and in the context of being both oppressors and oppressed. The meeting format of having both dinner and structured one-on-ones fosters meaningful conversations and connections.

2. We record our discussions so they can be used to further self-discovery and reach people who would join our org.

3. We experiment with activities that impact our micro-environment. As Rad Chinese grows, we can organize into specialized groups to tackle issues with greater appreciation of intersections and marginalized struggles.

4. Readymade Process – Rather than rely on a handful of core organizers, Rad Chinese is creating roles that anybody can pick up and understand. We’re setting up our work to ensure it stays grassroots even if we grow to serving tens-of-thousands of people.

What is the history of the org — in what ways is it changing now?

The first Rad Chinese event was held on June 27, 2017 with four people attending. Alex Au and Kim The, who met through Asian Americans Advancing Justice, threw the event to create a space where they could get to know other Chinese people while tackling deeper questions on identity and oppression and how to take effective action.

Our current strategy is to identify why people do or don’t come to events even at the cost of doing less outreach. We are redoing our messaging and updating our actions to be relevant to folks so they find this group’s work meaningful and worthy of their limited time and energy. Once we recalibrate to people’s needs, we will transition to doing more outreach and growing our impact.

Approach

What makes Rad Chinese different from other similar orgs?

We create space for people to come to their own conclusions. We believe there are many approaches to activism. Rather than prescribe one approach, we create space for people to question everything and find like-minded folks to pursue meaningful, impactful projects.

How do you experiment with ways to increase the org’s impact?

We experiment along these 4 guidelines:

1. Strategy

For us, strategy means “doing x at the cost of not doing y.” Strategy means prioritizing some work over others, especially over other seemingly important work.

Right now, our strategy is to identify why people do or don’t come to events even at the cost of doing less outreach

2. Metrics

Metrics help us observe how well we are doing over time. Right now, we measure how many event attendees onboard as Rad Chinese members, which means dedicating at least 1 hour per month to Rad Chinese work. While we initially had 54% of people who attended an event decide to onboard as a member, that number has dipped to below 40%. We are currently investigating why this is.

3. Autonomy

We divide our work into tasks. Each person has final decision-making authority to handle their task as they see fit, as long as the intent matches our guidelines. Rather than seeking consensus and slowing down the creative process, people can experiment with their tasks and use metrics as valuable feedback on possible approaches and best practice.

4. Reflection

We get together bi-weekly as co-organizers to amend our process and reflect on inner tensions we have. We use our Rad Governance format inspired by Holacracy to structure these conversations in a productive way. This actionable reflection crucially guides the work we do in roles.

How do you think Rad Chinese will make a difference in the long run?

Rad Chinese expands folks’ political imagination. By providing space for community to reflect and grow, folks become increasingly creative with how they approach activism. The world needs this creative energy to breakthrough the status quo of inequity and oppression. In the long run, these innovations will activate more people to do work that centers marginalized folks and builds alternatives to white supremacy.

 Direction

How do you measure impact?

We’re not actively measuring our impact yet, but see below for what we’d like to measure when we have the capacity.

1. Political Education
– percent of members, percent of chinese in america, and percent of americans who get <50% of their news from mainstream sources

2. Political Behavior
– Rad Chinese identified top 7 toxic behaviors average replacement per member with uplifting behaviors (specific manifestations of anti-blackness, anti-indigenous, white worship, toxic masculinity, classist, anti-feminism, self-loathing)

3. Procedural Activism
– percent of event attendees who are successfully onboarded to Rad Chinese according to their capacity and interest
– seasonal response to survey that measures the transparency of decision-making processes and power in Rad Chinese

4. Strategic Activism
– % time spent supporting systems that support or reproduce capitalist white supremacy vs. inclusive grassroots systems

Using this measurement of impact, what are the org’s short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals?

1. Short-term Goals (Feb 15, 2018 – May 15, 2018)

Political Education – Release 5-part essay series on Chinese Involvement in Making the Model Minority Myth. Add a process to Rad Group Kickstart Blueprint where similar summarizing essays get written based on seasonal Dinner & Discussion Plus topics using structures that reduce time spent 4x.

Political Behavior – Improve “Project Space” structure and activities during Dinner and Discussion Plus so that folks can take action more easily.

Procedural Activism & Strategic Activism – Reach 50 members through online marketing or other means. Update governance structure to sync activities of different groups in a meaningful way.

2. Medium-term Goals (3-9 months)

Political Education – Create automated pipelines that introduce white supremacy to Chinese in America.

Political Behavior – Identify the top 7 most toxic behaviors for Chinese-Americans and create a process for measuring members’ progress towards replacing them with uplifting ones.

Procedural Activism & Strategic Activism – Reach 300 members during which these metrics will become relevant.

3. Long-term Goals (1-2 years)

Political Education – For Chinese people in the US age 18-35, create a coherent strategy for having grassroots content take up 50% of news consumption for 50% of people.

Political Behavior – Create feedback loops that inform improvements to the process of supporting people while they replace their 7 most toxic behaviors. These actions lead folks to being creative with their own approach to activism to center marginalized folks and build alternatives to systems of white supremacy.

Procedural Activism – Successfully onboard members, defined as giving at least 1 hour per month, at 50% of attendees. Create and give the survey on transparency of power and decision-making process and get a 4/5 on the score.

Strategic Activism – Create a pathway that all Rad Chinese members can work on together to replace 1 systemic aspect of white supremacy in their lives, such as folks’ relationships with work, education, entertainment, food, or some other fundamental societal building block.

Based on how the org is doing, how long will it take to reach the medium-term goal?

A lot depends on how effective our online marketing efforts are. If effective, we can meet the timeline. If not, we will be delayed.

What needs to happen that isn’t happening so that the org can reach its medium-term goal?

We need more folks to attend events and onboard more reliably. This process will probably be the substance of our next strategy when decide to update it.

Reflections

When did you decide that this org was something you wanted to contribute to on a regular basis — what was the “AHA” moment that made you feel this org’s work is a good use of your time?

See below for quotes from various members:

At our first meeting, I realized how powerful gathering Chinese to connect over issues of identity and place is. There is little narrative that addresses our struggles in the context of white supremacy, being here because western imperialism stole our resources, and aspiring towards whiteness to get access to those resources. Listening to and being with others really broadened my perspective, deepened my connection to being Chinese, and gave me hope that my people could be part of the solution.

Something I find missing from other orgs is the space to go deeper into topics. I’d attend and we’d only ever scratch the surface level of things. I was really impressed how at Rad Chinese we were able to cover topics I wanted to cover in depth and in my first meeting, and felt like I could gain a lot from that.

Rad Chinese is one of my favorite podcasts. I figured I’d just come and lurk because I don’t talk much. I feel like I’m gaining a lot from being here. There’s just so much I feel like I don’t know — I just wanna learn more for now, and then maybe I’ll be ready to do more.

Rad Chinese is an important place where I can explore the Chinese side of my identity. Some of things said today really challenged me. I’m going to edit the podcast and re-listen to some of the discussion.

What was the most successful project you’ve worked on with this org?

Our most successful project is holding regular Dinner & Discussion Plus that create a space where Chinese people can explore their identity and relationship with being oppressors and oppressed.

What “went right” with this project?

By giving people space to explore in an intimate and trusting environment, we’ve seen folks significantly grow their political imagination in less than 6 months. This kind of growth is much faster than what happens normally, so we’re happy about that.

What could have been better?

We could have reached out to more organizations and had more people coming on a regular basis.

If you could change one thing about this org, what would you change?

See responses from various members:

“I want this org to start doing more visible impact work.”

Other

Who is welcome at Rad Chinese? (How do you define Chinese?)

We mean people who are ethnically Chinese or 華人 (huá rén). This includes mixed-race folks, people from Taiwan, and pretty much anybody who identifies as Chinese and has a Chinese grandparent — you’re super welcome!! Definitely come by.

You don’t have to speak Chinese or be born in China, or like Chinese food.

In the space that this group holds, you will center your Chinese identity in the context of white supremacy and other facets of your identity.

Why not organize around Asian Americans — why choose Chinese people?

When we center our own culture, history, and issues, we also bring clarity to Asian American issues by better understanding our own context. This sort of work helps us create a true Asian American identity, one that doesn’t revolve around whiteness, because we develop several alternatives to white mainstream culture.