Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS) is how ASATA aims to engage and activate the next generation of Desi activists!
BASS is a political action training camp for South Asian youth who want to create social change. Over the last five years, BASS has created a space where our youth can meet each other, cultivate relationships with activists and mentors, and learn how to better lead campaigns for social change.
Given the moment where we find ourselves, BASS 2015 intentionally focused on Black-Brown solidarity. We deepened our understanding of how to combat anti-blackness within the South Asian community, and broadened our thinking on how to support struggles of African-Americans in the U.S.
The first night kicked off with hearing about the secret history of Black-Desi resistance over the last 100 years. We had the honor of hearing from community activists from the front lines, Raj Jayadev and Lamar Noble from Silicon Valley Debug, and Nikita Henderson from Black Lives Matter. And as with every year, we had some serious love from community activists who gave their time to train young folks on how to think about campaigns, messaging, and actions: Kiran Nigam, Priya Kandaswamy, Nischit Hegde, Nadia Khastagir, Biju Mathew, and Cayden Mak.
The youth worked in small groups on campaigns focused on environmental justice in Richmond, anti-gentrification in Oakland, stopping jails in San Francisco, and supporting low-wage workers in San Jose — all with a lens on how to leverage their privilege to support resistance in other communities. Underlying the concrete campaign work was the slower more difficult work of unpacking our understanding of racial positionality – how South Asians fit into a racial hierarchy of black and white. As the “model minority” South Asians are often perceived positively because of assimilation into white supremacist culture; we can make a difference in larger struggles because of this status, and in spite of this status. We discovered together how violence against African-Americans is institutionalized, and is compounded if you’re a woman, poor, or transgender. Tough moments of naming racism within our own communities turned into transformational ones, where youth and organizers alike began to see how the liberation of other peoples is critical to the freedom of our own communities. As we closed BASS 2015, the youth presented their campaign strategies and tactics with a resounding demand for a better world, not just for us, but for everyone.
Check out the spotlight on BASS by APEX Express.
ASATA was honored at this year’s Chinese for Affirmative Action annual gala. CAA created a video highlighting Bay Area Solidarity Summer.