What makes Rad Chinese different from other similar orgs?
Rad Chinese focuses on self-work before social work and micro-environment before macro-environment.
We aim our self-work to unblock our own barriers to being in solidarity with other oppressed people of color. We all grew up under white supremacy, so we carry toxic beliefs and behaviors that hurt POCs, including ourselves. Doing self-work helps us see the harm we cause by default and take steps to halt the harm and help others. This self-work complements the social work done by direct service orgs like Chinese Mutual Aid Association and Chinese American Service League.
As a young grassroots organization, we aim to have power over hyper-local issues in our “”micro-environment,”” like calling out questionable business practices down the street or within our own group of friends. This work complements the work of advocacy orgs, like Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Pan Asian Voter Empowerment Coalition, that fight crucial legislative and legal battles that determine the macro-environment in which these more localized struggles take place.
Focusing on self-work and micro-environment helps us achieve immediate changes in our selves and in our day-to-day routine. By focusing on what’s within arm’s reach, we also develop our sense of autonomy, good judgment, and community.
How do you experiment with ways to increase the org’s impact?
We experiment along these 4 guidelines:
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 focus on onboarding new members, even at the cost of doing no outreach.
We use metrics to 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. Currently, 54% of people who attend an event decide to onboard as a member. We believe this is a high number and reflects the quality effort we’ve put into making Rad Chinese a grassroots org that people want to join.
We divide our work in roles. Each person has final decision-making authority to handle their roles as they see fit. Rather than seeking consensus and slowing down the creative process, people can experiment within their role and use metrics to get more feedback from the group about other possible approaches.
We get together bi-weekly as organizers to amend our process and reflect on inner tensions we have. We use the “”tactical”” and “”governance”” meeting format from “”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 provides space for community intersections to gather, organize, and relate with other intersections. This space gives attendees a chance to open up in an intimate community setting. These spaces allow for unique gatherings based on intersections of class, gender, profession, age, place, identity, and struggle, so folks can meet with people like themselves to dig deeply into issues that reflect their unique experience with others who share in that.
Rather than waste energy speaking directly with folks in other communities who don’t listen, Rad Chinese reaches them in the long-run via folks on the edge of a community intersection. So a space for folks in the tech industry attracts recently unemployed folks who create their own space that attracts blue collar folks who also create their own space. Then these different spaces, which address their specific needs, can meet with each other — tech industry, unemployed, blue collar — to settle differences and also unite in solidarity.
Furthermore, because Rad Chinese does things like record discussions, the learning moments can be saved and re-used for others in the future. This repo of shared experience becomes a valuable resource that we use to bridge our differences and fight together for the liberation of all oppressed people of color, doing so in a way that is intimate & autonomous, but also collective & community-controlled.
The outcome is for a politically engaged Chinese community that works together with other oppressed groups to replace capitalist white supremacy with systems of inclusion