Remembering in November

Blog author LyLy Vang-Yang, TakeAction’s Cultural Strategy Manager, holds up a photo of her father Charles Yang.

The first TakeAction Minnesota event I attended was a summit on women of color in 2016. It was the first space I had ever been in that was just women of color. I remember walking away feeling seen and affirmed.

That feeling is such a blessing. In a world that tells people, particularly women of color, that something is inherently wrong with us, to be seen and affirmed is glorious. 

I started reading TakeAction’s emails more closely and came to a few events. I’m so glad I did. When I was hired at TakeAction in 2018, I learned about the political healers framework

The concept of political healing was born at TakeAction, from the wisdom of Arique Aquilar, TakeAction’s first Women of Color Organizer, and other women of color across the country. A political healer is someone who uses ritual to bring cultural trauma into public memory. 

Here are a few definitions for you:

  • Ritual: something done over and over. Ritual can look many different ways. For example, I eat soft scrambled eggs every single morning. I light candles for people I am thinking about and sending warmth and love to. The main ritual of political healers is storytelling.  
  • Cultural trauma: a traumatic event that happens to a community that changes it forever. For example: the Holocaust, Indigenous genocide and the stealing of land, chattel slavery, or the displacement of people on West Side in Saint Paul. 
  • Public memory: what we consciously remember about the world. Dominant narrative controls what we remember. Political healers move important and unheard stories into the public.
Learning about and celebrating political healing at our 2018 Women of Color Summit

The concept of political healing transformed my life. 

I had language for how and why storytelling mattered; why my story mattered. And, why it was necessary to share it. I had experiences where my story had been exploited or changed to fit someone else’s narrative. Political healing allowed me to control what I shared, when I shared, and how I shared it. It offered a way for me to step into my power. 

Every year, political healers have the Remember in November campaign. Remember in November engages voters around participating in our democracy. It acknowledges that voting is just one part of using our voice and an important one. 

Through voter outreach, we’re able to have powerful conversations about our stories, why voting matters, and bring other people along in building a democracy that works for all of us. 

What will you remember this November?

Folks can also host hype parties where they register voters, story share, and build community. They can also send postcards, share their stories across social media, write letters to the editors, and so much more. 

At the center of Remember in November is political healing. We share our stories to encourage others to share their stories, and we come together to remember our stories as we cast our ballots and swear in candidates who will uphold and advance justice. 

This November, I’m remembering my dad. His name was Charles Yang. He was born in 1973. When you look at me, you also look at my dad. He died last year from colorectal cancer. I am remembering the moment the doctor shared with us that the cancer was likely caused from Agent Orange ingested by my grandmother during the Secret War. I am remembering my dad, and all those harmed and murdered by imperialism and colonialism. 

I am remembering my dad and how he was able to die as comfortably as he could in his home. We were able to receive in-home hospice care and I see now what a blessing that was. I am remembering the 200,000+ people that have died from COVID because of government negligence, and am holding those who died without the presence of their loved ones close in my heart. 

My dad, Charles Yang, died last year. I miss him every day, and I’m remembering him, and all those harmed and murdered by imperialism and colonialism, this November – and the politicians and corporations who profit off our pain and trauma.

I am remembering the $30,000+ of debt my mother and I carry with us from my father’s medical bills. I am remembering how corporations profit off my family and our pain. Other families carry this burden with us. 

It shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t live in a country where families have to resort to GoFundMe to alleviate medical bills. And we don’t have to. 

I will remember my dad this November. I will remember and I will vote. I’m swearing in candidates up and down the ballot this year that will fight for people like my dad and I, and the hundreds of thousands of families with stories like ours. By voting, I believe we can flip the Minnesota Senate and have a progressive majority in our Legislature. We can activate a joyful politic to defeat Trumpism, defend our democracy, and build lasting people power for a government that works for all of us. 

I want to know, what are you remembering this November? Let me know at lyly@takeactionminnesota.org

This election season, there’s a lot you can do to support Remember in November:

  • Join a voter outreach shift so we can have powerful conversations with voters across the state. 
  • Host a voter hype party to share stories and build community. Email me at lyly@takeactionminnesota.org if you’re interested in hosting. 
  • Share your story with us. Let us know what you’re remembering this November and tag us – @TakeActionMN – on all social media platforms. 
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