Humboldt Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity
Humboldt Asian Histories & Futures Panel
Community members, historians, and local artists come together to remember Humboldt’s Chinese expulsions and their reverberations today. The 90-minute event features a reading from Chinese American poet Daryl Ngee Chinn, a background of the anti-Chinese exclusions and expulsions in Northern California from historian Jean Pfaelzer, and a panel discussion about contemporary challenges the Asian community faces in Humboldt. We hope that the open discussion can spark conversations around what racial solidarity and support can look like today and into the future.
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Ali Ong Lee, M.A., M.S., is a Chinese and Vietnamese writer and project manager for nonprofits. She relocated to Humboldt for both love and less expensive warehouse space, in 1998. One of her children is a fifth generation San Franciscan with roots in Toisan, while the other is a fifth generation Eurekan. Ali is currently working to preserve open space and agricultural land by serving on the Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission as its Public Member. She collaborates with local grassroots activists reclaiming space at the Eureka Chinatown Project and with Humboldt Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity.
Daryl Ngee Chinn is a poet, poet teacher, bookmaker, and editor. His book and book-related publications include Soft Parts of the Back (University of Central Florida, 1989); artist books; collaborative books; self-published chapbooks; and school and statewide poetry anthologies in Nevada and California. He published his first book of poems and color photographs in 1973 and has worked or volunteered for poetry teaching and related activities including fundraising, board membership, and mentoring. He was a founding member of the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild and served as Humboldt County Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools.
Jean Pfaelzer is a Professor of English, Asian Studies, and Women and Gender Studies at University of Delaware. She is author of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans, which made the New York Times 100 Best Books of the Year, consulted for "1882: The Chinese Exclusion Act" on PBS, and is currently working on The Stolen People: A History of Slavery in California and the American West (Yale University Press). She speaks on issues of immigration on NPR, Pacifica, CNN, CSPAN, and CTGN. Jean has taught at Humboldt State University and UC San Diego and was director of the National Labor Law Center.
Brieanne Mirjah is the organizer of the Eureka Chinatown Project, which started as a passion project to help raise AAPI awareness and culture in our community. She is of Chinese and West Indian descent and believes we can all do our part to make a difference. As she expects her first baby in June, it is important to her that she helps create a community where everyone feels welcomed, especially those that have historically not been welcomed here in Humboldt. In her day job, Brieanne works in non-profit fundraising and marketing for the Breast & GYN Health Project in Arcata.
Marylyn Paik-Nicely was the Director of the MultiCultural Center at Humboldt State University (HSU) for almost 20 years. She has always described her work at the MCC as a “job made in heaven just for me!” Social justice programs, community building, cultural celebrations, mentoring students, leadership development, exploration of identity and so much more shaped Marylyn’s life forever. She retired from HSU in 2015 and loves having time with her three grandchildren. Marylyn is a “Founding Mother” of Humboldt Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity (HAPI), on the Board of Directors of Humboldt Area Foundation, and an active participant of the Eureka Chinatown Project. Marylyn is a third generation Okinawan/Korean born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii.
Chisato (Chisa) Hughes (program organizer) is a half-Japanese filmmaker who grew up in Humboldt County and recently returned during Covid to work on a documentary here. The film asks questions about ghosts and placemaking today, looking at the history of the expulsions in the county and the Chinese people that continued to live here surreptitiously despite the threat of white violence. Chisa is an artist and organizer with HAPI (Humboldt Asians and Pacific Islanders in Solidarity), and hopes to be part of building racial solidarity here in Humboldt.