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Take Action Against Hate Awards presented

Pui-Yan Lam and Rowena Pineda accept the recognition.

Rachelle Strawther, a Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies Advisory Board member, presented the 2021 Eva Lassman Take Action Against Hate Awards.

As chair of the Take Action Against Hate Awards, she shared the story of the award, which is named for Eva Lassman, a Holocaust survivor and long-time community educator on the Holocaust, hate and human rights for more than 50 years in the Inland Northwest.

"Eva was an advocate for human dignity, respect and perseverance," Rachelle said. "She dedicated most of her adult life to the 'personal obligation that came with her survival'—giving testimony to atrocities she endured and inspiring others to take action against hate. The awards recognize those following in her footsteps."

The Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies gives annual awards to one individual and one organization.

The individual recipients are Rowena Pineda and Pui-Yan Lam, immediate-past co-chairs of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) of Spokane. Ryann Louie of the coalition said they "built a team of energetic, talented, progressive folks to work in solidarity with their communities of color for civil and human rights."

Tia Moua, who shared information for the nomination, wrote: "Rowena and Pui-Yan guided me to see the importance of coalition-building, multi-racial solidarity, lobbying and activism work, and cooperation with other anti-racist organizations. Ever since I joined APIC, I saw their clear passion and commitment to serving our community, especially the Asian American and Pacific Island communities."

Pui-Yan started speaking out during graduate studies when she saw racism on campus.

"I decided to speak up and do something about it because it was happening in my community. I didn't care if my face was red or my hands shook when I spoke in public, I just had to do it," she said.

Now she realizes that for any social justice movement it's not about waiting for a perfect charismatic leader, but it's about the power of ordinary, imperfect people, who despite their flaws, fears and insecurities, step up and do what they can.

Rowena, as a young community organizer, learned that those impacted need to be at the forefront.  While she liked being in the background, "the time came when my community was impacted and I had to step up and be up front."

Both are members of the advisory board, welcoming a new generation stepping up in APIC to join in the fight against racism.

Amanda Haynes and Jennifer Schweppe give award to student.

Rachelle announced that the organizational winner is the European Centre for the Study of Hate located at the University of Limerick in Ireland. Co-directors Amanda Haynes and Jennifer Schweppe accepted the award.

The center was nominated because of its commitment to understanding and countering hatred on an individual, community and global scale. Its work, including research, policy and practice, is evident through its "Call It Out" Campaign, its engagement with the Coalition Against Hate Crime Ireland, and publications such as "Alternative Report on Hate Crimes and Related Issues," and "Ireland and Our LGBT Community." Its work shows how knowledge can be paired with action to challenge hate towards those who are marginalized.

"Good scholarship is scholarship with impact that changes people's lives for the better, especially people like Eva Lassman who directly experience the harms of hate," said Amanda.

Jennifer expressed appreciation for Gonzaga's Institute for Hate Studies' interdisciplinary approach to understand hate that divides, to explore means by which that hate can be countered and challenged and to do that wherever possible, "always speaking truth to power."

They dedicated the financial award to Gonzaga for funds for a Native American student there.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, December, 2021