Featuring…Pratap Chatterjee

APEN is celebrating our 20 years of “Generating Power” at the Oakland Museum on October 5th. As a lead up to our event, this May, Asian-Pacific Island (API) Heritage month, we will highlight the vast wealth of API Heritage in APEN’s own history. We will feature a different former APEN staff, board or member each week.

 pratappicFull Name: Pratap Chatterjee

Current Position: Executive Director at CorpWatch

Years you were involved with APEN & role: I volunteered for APEN in Richmond in the summer of 2000 and as a board member from 2001-2005.

What is your proudest APEN memory? I have a couple:

  • When the Laotian Organizing Project won a victory from Chevron in Richmond to make multilingual calls to the community in the case of an “accident.”
  • When Power in Asian Organizing helped organize and win the Just Cause Ordinance to protect renters and fight for affordable housing.

Our theme for the 20th anniversary is “generating power.” What do you believe are the most important ways of “generating power?” Information, they say, is power. As a journalist, I firmly believe that we have to educate people about the real cost of injustice. The second is to link like-minded people and communities together. The more people work together, the more likely we are to win change.

How has 20 years of APEN impacted the API Movement? I think APEN has helped bring many disparate Asian communities together and helped inform the rest of the Bay area – especially our sister activists – about the issues in our communities – from pollution to community gardening to basic housing rights. But most important of all, APEN has helped Asian American activists to create alliances with other groups from African Americans in Richmond to the broader climeate change movement.

What would your advice to a younger API activist be? Volunteer for something you believe in and learn from other communities – whether it is the Native American community on whose land we now live – from the broader movements from environment to human rights. Respect our elders and traditions and remember to have fun!

Why should people support APEN’s work? We should always support movement building in our own communities. Not just because we are worried about our own rights but because we should be supporting everyone else to enjoy equal rights.

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