Asian Media Access receives Laura Waterman Wittstock award


Asian Media Access’ board has received the Laura Waterman Wittstock Leadership Award from Community Shares of Minnesota at award ceremony April 30th, 2008. The Leadership Award is an annual award set up by human right activist Laura Waterman Wittstock to honor the community groups fighting for fairness and equality in MN.

Asian Media Access (AMA), was acknowledged for its work to address inequality among Asian American and Pacific Islander girls and women. AMA’s program What About Us reaches out to Hmong runaway and homeless girls, many of whom have experienced sexual assault. The program provides services and peer education to enable them to live safer, healthier lives, while developing their capacity as women and members of the community.

AMA has supported the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in many areas.

For example, it provides people with the tools to act together to create change on a systemic level. Since its inception at 1992, Asian Media Access has always been at the front line of helping AAPI immigrants and refugees to understand American culture and to help the mainstream to understand Asian Pacific American issues through tools like multi-media and digital arts. Many of the AMA’s “East Meets West” programs featuring topics of concern to immigrants range from the cultural shock, immigration bashing, and mental health, gambling, to Asian American gangs. In1994, AMA creatively featured Asian movies (both popular and artistic) as a way to build community and support of cultural understanding between Asian Pacific Americans and the mainstream. In 2000, they started their first Youth Media Force team to assist youth of color, through learning/creating multi-media and digital arts, to transform themselves into socially conscious, industrious, and creative young adults with desires to express themselves. In 2003, AMA launched another new division – Asian Pacific American Community Network (APA ComMNet) to find creative solutions through the Internet, to assist people with limited English to navigate though health and civic information in their mother tongues. Today, AMA has positioned itself as a leader in the media arts field, representing strong community advocacy voices.

AMA also attempts to address the root causes of major social and economic problems. For the past few years, AMA has increased its involvement in the inequality among AAPI girls and women. This inequality causes many young girls to run away from home – many are being sexually assaulted, physically abused and forced into prostitution. Working with Children’s Hospital, AMA found out that the abuse experience among Hmong girls was strikingly different from non-Hmong girls. Seventy-seven percent of Hmong girls evaluated at hospitals experienced gang rape, or multiple sexual assaults, compared to sixteen percent of all other girls evaluated. Sixty-nine percent of the Hmong girls evaluated for sexual abuse reported five or more perpetrators versus two percent of all other girls evaluated and seventy-five percent of those Hmong girls reported five or more sexual assaults compared to twenty-four percent of all other girls. Therefore, through one of AMA’s programs, “What About Us” (WAU), the organization has successfully conducted street outreach, health education, prevention and intervention services designed for Hmong runaway girls who bear the highest risk of being subjected to sexual abuse. With AMA’s effort, many Hmong runaway and homeless girls can return home live better lives, and the community has increased awareness of the harmful effects of gender inequality.

The results of the efforts by AMA and the WAU program have been considerable, but most importantly the program has made a change in the lives of some of our youth. The girls participating in WAU have been provided various leadership opportunities and develop leadership skills. The girls have taken their personal leadership into the larger community. They have been able to speak to adults and the larger community, actively recruit peers to become a part of WAU and to take the message about gender inequality into the community at large. The girls have reached out to and provided opportunities to younger Asian girls, making a special effort to mentor younger girls and engage them in WAU. Teens who participate in WAU regularly voice their concerns about issues of gender inequality, particularly sexual violence toward women and girls in their schools, neighborhoods and the larger community. They see how they can make an impact, individually and collectively on changing attitudes about the role and value of women, and the negative effects of sexual violence and early pregnancy. All these transfer into higher self-esteem/self confidence and their willingness to be activists on behalf of girls and women, and to solve the root cause – gender inequality in the AAPI community.

Learn more about Asian Media Access at their web site, www.amamedia. For more information, contact Asian Media Access at 612-376-7715 or ammaedia@amamediaorg.

Community Shares of Minnesota is a community-based fund for social justice, founded in 1978 as the Cooperating Fund Drive and known for a brief period as Community Solutions Fund. In its 30-year history Community Shares has raised over $16 million for local nonprofits by advancing the issues and concerns of low-income and marginalized communities in workplace giving campaigns throughout the Twin Cities. The organization is part of the Community Shares USA network that connects workplace giving to local organizations that build social and economic equity and a healthy environment.

Asian Media Access (AMA) founded in 1992, is a non-profit organization with a mission to use media in all its forms as a tool for social betterment and improving the lives of the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. With our advocacy, arts and cultural programs, AMA has created and continues to create many valuable opportunities for the members of our community o learn more about each other, thereby greatly reducing cultural tensions. The “Media Access” in our name is a reference to the many educational workshops and practices that make possible a greater participation in, and understanding of the media by under-served populations. Through the process of democratizing media and information technology, an increase in understanding between all ethnic groups is not only possible but also probable.