Seeds is a photography column that seeks to explore and promote just causes by highlighting individuals‘ efforts. These individuals are seeds of justice and resistance, and seeds for social movements and social changes.
MS. KIKI L. PARK is an organizer for the Taiwanese community in New York City. She is involved in many organizations, such as Cafe Philo New York and Taiwanese American Association in New York. She also organized 330 Global Taiwan Solidarity to support the Sunflower movement in 2014, a vigil to support Lin Yi-Hsiung’s hunger strike against Gongliao Reactor #4, and many other events in New York City.
I was also an organizer for 330. We had less than a week to plan this highly emotional rally that was attended by 1,500 Taiwanese people. Ms. Park hosted the event. I witnessed how she resisted tears and performed calmly and brilliantly on the stage, yet cried whenever she was off the microphone. Kiki usually plays the role of coordinator and liaison and is often the master of ceremonies for many events. If you go to a Taiwanese event in New York City, the chance of seeing her is very high.
Since Ms. Park moved from California to New York City in 2011, her sense of Taiwanese identity strengthened significantly: “My awareness grew significantly because when you see differences, your own sense of national identity strengthens. When you see more races and nationalities and the helplessness from the oppression of Taiwanese people, you start to understand we Taiwanese are different. I read many books in Taiwan Center—all of them are books of real ‘Taiwanese history’ that I have not heard of nor learned when I was in Taiwan. After coming to America, I was really shocked to learn of the struggles we Taiwanese people have had in history.”
When Ms. Park started organizing in New York, she was very frustrated with Taiwanese organizations: “It felt things were stuck at 10-20 years ago. There was no new voice, no new thoughts, and no new concerns.” Kiki was frustrated with the anachronism of the Taiwanese organizational infrastructure but still kept working hard, doing her best to make whatever contributions she can. “I feel powerless sometimes, but if everyone chooses to not do it, who else can help Taiwan?” Since 318, she is noticing many new changes in Taiwanese organizing with the influx of new and young organizers with the same Taiwanese identification.
I asked Ms. Park what challenges the Taiwanese community in New York faces, she simply answered, “Solidarity”. “There are so many Taiwanese groups in New York, but real Taiwanese organizations need to be in solidarity.” Ms. Park explains. Ms. Park sees events such as 318 and the 2016 Presidential Election as great opportunities for different Taiwanese groups to work together: “We all have different voices, but as long as we have the same goal, we can still have solidarity.” Ms. Park believes we should all have confidence in Taiwan, as Chinese assimilation over the years has not diminished Taiwanese identity.
“We have to overcome our differences, because everything is for Taiwan,” Ms. Park remarks.