Washington Leadership Program: Reflecting on Communities of Color

Post written by Kabir Hossain (2016)














Panel speakers from left to right: Paul Igasaki, Lakshmi Sridaran, Marita Etcubanez, Grace Choi, and moderator Andrew-Brian Nguyen.

On Wednesday, June 15, I had an amazing opportunity to Join CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program: Communities of Color. I was excited that it was held at the National Association of Broadcasters, an attraction I have been meaning to visit. The event began with a presentation by Sandra Vu Le, an 18 year immigration attorney, a cultural integration specialist and the current cable TV host of MMC-TV “The American Journey.” She had us participate in an activity that forced us to meet someone new and judge them based on their appearance. At first I was very uncomfortable but by the end of the presentation I understood what she was attempting to do. People often judge others on their appearance, even if their judgements are completely inaccurate. Members of the AAPI community as well as other minorities often deal with this in the United States. We must work together with all communities of color to combat negative stereotypes while also uplifting each other through positive shared experiences. I also made a new friend through this activity, which is always a plus.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion, which included: Grace Choi, a Policy Advisor in the Secretary’s Office on Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State,  Marita Etcubanez, Director of Strategic Initiatives of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Paul Igasaki, Chair and Chief Judge of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board, and Lakshmi Sridaran, A member of South Asian Americans Leading Together. It was very humbling to be in the same room with such accomplished people. I was really inspired by the panel’s message that in order to help the AAPI community, we must stand with all minorities in the United States regardless of race, religion, and sexual identity or orientation. Injustice for one group is injustice for us all. As a recent graduate who is searching for jobs in public service, opportunities like this are especially valuable. I look forward to attending more of these sessions and meeting some remarkable people. I only wish that the fellowship lasted longer because this is an environment I could really get used to.