Los Angeles, CA
The Taiwanese people have withstood many different forces trying to impose themselves on Taiwan to build a democratic country. That is an amazing feat, and that powerful history inspires me to stand with the oppressed who are fighting back for dignity and respect.
I am a mother, a spouse, and a defender of workers’ rights, animal rights, and the environment. My amazing son Dylan Edward O’Malley-Lo was born August 24, 2008, and being his parent has been the best and of course at times most challenging experience of my life. My husband Matt is my partner in raising him. For the past 13 years I have worked in the labor movement. I am currently coordinator for the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a coalition of workers associations organizing to improve wages and working conditions for workers all throughout the food system, from farms and food processing plants to restaurants and supermarkets. I am also a vegetarian, mostly because I think animals have rights to not be exploited for humans and because the meat industry plays a huge role in causing millions of animals pain and suffering, polluting our environment, and contributing to global warming.
What do you do?
In my current full-time job with the Food Chain Workers Alliance I coordinate 10 workers organizations that have come together to support each other and to collectively build power to end the exploitation of workers in the food chain, to work towards a sustainable food system, and to ensure that all people have access to healthy and affordable food. This job is bringing together my passion for workers’ rights, the environment, and food. In my spare time, I play with Dylan, take him to yoga with me, go to Huntington Gardens with him and my husband, hang out with friends, my mom, and my sister, volunteer for the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association (NATWA) II as co-coordinator with the fabulous Tsuann Kuo, travel (I’ve got the bug!), and eat yummy food.
Why are you proud to be of Taiwanese heritage?
I am a 2nd-generation Taiwanese American. Growing up in Ohio, my parents always told us that we were Taiwanese, not Chinese. While at times it was confusing growing up surrounded mostly by Caucasians and feeling like I didn’t belong in America or in Taiwan, I was still always proud to be Taiwanese American – I knew that at least I was unique in that way. I also think that the history of Taiwan as an oppressed but defiant nation and our culture of caring for others and putting others before ourselves has greatly shaped who I am as a person and the work that I have chosen to pursue. The Taiwanese people have withstood many different forces trying to impose themselves on Taiwan to build a democratic country. That is an amazing feat, and that powerful history inspires me to stand with the oppressed who are fighting back for dignity and respect.
What does the future of Taiwanese America look like to you?
I hope the future of Taiwanese America continues to broaden and become more accepting of different cultures, religions, and identities. I think this is where the 2nd generation is leading the way. I learned recently that Taiwanese Americans have the highest rate of marrying outside their own ethnicity, and I think our community is coming to accept more and more non-Taiwanese into our families. I hope that our community can continue to be open to all, including gays and lesbians, blacks and Latinos, and even the Chinese. By welcoming others, the Taiwanese American community will gain more acceptance in the U.S.
Any additional information you would like to share?
Visit the NATWA II website: natwa.com/natwa2
Most Taiwanese Americans grew up in moderate income families and few people are as passionate as Joann to fight for human rights and to protect work equality. Joann is an inspiring role model for all.
You should come to the U.S. Social Forum 2010 http://www.ussf2010.org. This is a national gathering of folks who believe that another world is necessary, another world is possible, and we are doing it in Detroit. We have created a collaborative effort for APIAs to meet and work together on issues related to APIAs and look forward to really building together during the social forum. The U.S. Social forum is from June 22-26th in Detroit, MI. As a Taiwanese American who is helping to organize the APIA piece of this, it would be great to have more representation from the Taiwanese American community!