Creating Greater Racial Equity in Oregon’s Political System


The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) is a statewide, grassroots organization, uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice. It uses its collective strengths to advance equity through empowering, organizing, and advocating with its communities. Thanks in part to support from Voqal, APANO advanced racial equity in politics by empowering Oregon’s communities of color to actively engage in their democracy throughout 2019.

One of the main ways APANO has helped accomplish this goal is to build the political organizing power of communities of color. As many of us know, the political organizing landscape can be wrought with a complicated web of laws and regulations that sometimes make it hard to organize. Having a great deal of experience in this particular area, APANO lends its experience navigating this sometimes confusing regulatory environment to other nonprofits led by and serving people of color who are also looking to build the power of their members. In recent years, this strategy has helped build a vibrant community of up and coming community-focused organizations that are engaging with the political and legislative process and creating real power for the area’s communities of color.

Of course, APANO is also directly involved in empowering the Asian Pacific American community it directly serves. This is perhaps best encapsulated by the legislative advocacy it conducted during last year’s Oregon state legislative session. In April of last year, it held its 10th Lobby Day of Action in Salem, with over 60 APANO members and staff attending. It led with an “Our Families, Our Health” message. A message that focuses on APANO’s belief that families should have access to health, education, safe roads, and time to take care of loved ones. In addition to the lobby day, APANO members actively participated throughout the session, submitting written testimony, lobbying individual legislators, testifying in-person at hearings, signing many letters of support, participating in coalitions, and supporting its partners’ lobby days and rallies.

APANO’s dual role of helping build the power of its partner organizations and directly empowering the members of the community it serves is an excellent model for building progressive power and greater racial equity in our political system. We are proud to support bold changemakers like APANO and look forward to the more socially equitable community they will no doubt create in Oregon and beyond.