The People's school for justice
The People's School for Justice aims to pool the diverse training and experiences of activists, practitioners, educators, and scholars to raise consciousness for social justice through free community education. The idea is that if enough folks contributed even one learning session, in the spirit of mutual aid and collective power, we could create a hub where people can come to learn about important histories, critical frameworks, and liberatory practices our school systems never taught us.
At AAJIL, we believe in practicing a culture of mutual, relational generosity rather than a culture of the commodity. To that end, all of our sessions are free learning opportunities, but we do encourage each participant to donate within one's means to the instructor (or to the instructor's organization of choice) as a gesture of gratitude and appreciation. We will provide the donation information during the registration process.
Our instructors for the People's School for Justice include regular faculty members, guest faculty members as well as collaborators from other organizations. The next learning session can be found on our Eventbrite page.
PSFJ regular Faculty members
Adhy Kim (he/they) is a lecturer in History & Literature at Harvard University with research interests in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Asian/American literature and culture. In the past, Adhy has offered a teach-in on Asian Americans and racial capitalism for PSfJ. Adhy looks forward to offering sessions on the Cold War in Asia and the Pacific, Korea/Japan colonial relations, and the role of diasporic literature in critiquing and disrupting U.S.-led capitalist imperialism.
Carolyn A. Sideco
Carolyn A. Sideco (She / Coach / Siya), aka Coach Sideco, is an immigrant to Turtle Island, whole Pinay 24/7, lover of Filipina/x/o community spaces, and witness to, amplifier of, and practitioner of fierce community positivity in the midst of continual grieving and emergence. She is a sports relationship coach, and the founder of CoachingKapwa Sports Consultants LLC. Carolyn is an NIAAA Certified Athletic Administrator, a Spiritual Life Coach, a Nature Framework Life Coach, and a Sports Futurist. She believes sports are the most fun pathways to reimagine the practice and surrender of ourselves to the ways of racial justice, ethnic studies, decolonization, and community building. Coach knows that everyone has a relationship with sports; and our collective expression bares itself on the playing fields, courts, and gyms - oftentimes to our dehumanization, and sometimes to our self-actualization. Carolyn invites people to engage with, share, and reflect on their relationships with sports to contribute to a healing, liberating, and harmonious existence with one another. Through AAJIL's PSfJ and Community Labs, Coach has continued to be in the practice of expanding and experimenting with our American Sports Cultures. Connect with Carolyn on Instagram at @CoachingKapwa.
Laura Ng is an interdisciplinary culture worker-meaning maker and aspiring Canto diaspora, mixing design inquiry and provocation to facilitate collective discovery. Their Heritage Restoration practice reclaims assimilated genealogy in American/transnational movements toward a new relating—of opt-in. Besides ensuring organizations are playing with (mostly) generative fires, she excites in facilitating reconnection to cultural transmission as it is lived. Her research+editorials have featured in Arts for America, CCA Design Is, and Getty Pacific Standard Time. Their present interests involve the somatic currents of social signaling, teasing at what it is to do ‘identity’ work from lineages that reconcile the Western concept to nonduality/multitudes.
Nairuti Shastry (she/her) is an educator, engaged scholar, and movement builder working toward racial and economic justice that transcends organizational, cultural, and political borders. Founder and Principal of Nuance Research, Strategy, & Consulting, LLC, Nairuti supports teams, organizations, and communities both hospice the old and birth the new in pursuit of new economic realities spanning sectors as diverse as healthcare, education, tech, philanthropy, social services, and international development and finance. Previously, Nairuti served as the Director of Research for Beloved Economies, a story-telling and action initiative demonstrating the power of work to affect economic change. Nairuti began her career in higher education at the Johns Hopkins University, advancing place-based community engagement and redistribute capital across historically marginalized communities in Baltimore. She has also served as a Community Impact Fellow at Break Away, promoting quality civic engagement programming to connect campus and community across the United States. As a QWoC and an immigrant, the nuances of movement, belonging, and social change have been both a participatory experience and a research question for Nairuti. So, when she stumbled upon AAJIL's community labs in 2021, she was hooked, participating in several over the years and even facilitating one in Spring 2023: Excavating APIDA @ Work. Trained in Freirean pedagogy and informed by a hooksian love ethic, Nairuti enjoys conspiring with her APIDA kin to co-create bolder, brighter futures for us all. She is thrilled to be joining the AAJIL team this fall as a regular faculty member for the People's School for Justice. Nairuti holds a BA in Sociology, French & Francophone Studies, and Public Health from the College of William & Mary and an MBA from LIFT Economy. Outside of work, you can find her doing all sorts of arts & crafts, daydreaming in technicolor aided by her Bollywood film addiction, and frolicking along the shores of Lake Michigan with her partner, Daniel, and sweet pup, Rani.
Adrienne hidalgo esguerra
Our instructor, Adrienne Hidalgo Esguerra (she/her), is an educator, writer, speaker mothering 5 cis males ages 4-27. Residing on unceded Muwekma Ohlone land known as San Francisco, Adrienne is the eldest daughter of generation 1.5 immigrants from the Philippines, raising her blended family in a multigenerational home. She attended San Francisco State University and has a multiple subject teaching credential, BA in Liberal Studies, emphasis in Children and Family Studies and Masters in Education. She co-facilitated AAJIL’s first Antiracist Parenting Group and founded Raising Ancestors, a platform that offers education programs for school communities and Filipinx and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) parents centering liberation, reparenting and community. @raisingancestors, raisingancestors.com
Giannina Ong (she/her) is a researcher, activist, and the editor in chief at Mochi Magazine, the longest-running digital publication for and by Asian American women. She holds a master’s from University of Toronto’s Women and Gender Studies Institute. At AAJIL, she has previously co-taught a journalism and writing class amplifying racial justice. Her interest is in helping writers share what it means to be Asian American at the intersection of other identities and navigating our role and responsibility as Asian Americans to one another and our brothers and sisters of color in this country. A spot-on Taurus (sun and rising), she is a retired athlete, pasta-loving writer, and doting but busy mama. Catch her on Instagram @ThisIsGiannina.
Leslie (she/they) is a Marriage and Family Therapist in training, a certified yoga instructor and a life long creative. They have led three labs with AAJIL centered around creativity as a means of expressing and healing and has incorporated yoga and breathwork into various lab events. She joins the People's School for Justice faculty now to disseminate mental health knowledge and create a brave space for people to explore their stories and interact with others with a spirit of mindfulness, creativity, curiosity, and kindness.
Reiney Lin is a co-director at AAJIL. She is an organizer, trainer, and consultant with the Racial Equity Institute and the Groundwater Institute, where she serves as the lead Asian American trainer. Reiney has an institutional background in public health with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in higher education with the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education at Elon University. Starting in 2019, she joined AAJIL's events, clubs, and community labs, and since 2021, she has served as an instructor for the People's School for Justice, where she uses data and research to deepen a collective understanding of racial inequities experienced by Asian Americans.
Alan Nakagawa is an interdisciplinary artist with archiving tendencies, primarily working with sound, often incorporating various media and working with communities and their histories. His introduction to AAJIL came in 2020 when he was invited to present his participatory poetry project to the AAJIL Poetry Lab. Since then as both participant and workshop collaborator, Nakagawa has worked with the AAJIL community through social practice. Nakagawa is also currently the artist-in-resident at the Gerth Archives, California State University Dominguez Hills assigned to the newly acquired L.A. Free Press/Art Kunkin Collection. His first book, “A.I.R.Head: Anatomy of an Artist in Residence” was published in January 2023 by Writ-Large Press. It maps his artistic trajectory that led to his nine artist-in-residencies in six years. He was the first artist in resident for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Library. Nakagawa was invited by the Smithsonian Museum of American History to research the development of the hearing aid in the US. He currently resides in Los Angeles’ Koreatown and continues to exhibit and develop his creative practice.
Karo Ska (she/they) is a South Asian and Eastern European gender-fluid poet living on unceded Tongva land. Their writing focuses on identity, mental health, survivorship, and the intersections of trauma and politics. Anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist, they find joy where they can. Their first full-length collection, "loving my salt-drenched bones" was released in February 2022 through World Stage Press. They have taught two poetry sessions with AAJIL, including a 6-week series on re-imagining a new world. They're also a teaching artist for Community Literature Initiative's Poetry Publishing class and the Sims Library of Poetry. They believe that writing is a craft and a restorative tool for well-being. Their classes focus on how we can use poetry to rejuvenate ourselves, while improving our practice of language through the use of lyrical and literary elements.
Melissa Anran Fan
Melissa Anran Fan (she/they) is a community organizer, integrative change coach, and collective liberation steward. Melissa holds a background in Expressive Arts Therapy with a MA in Counseling Psychology, as well as additional training in somatic therapy, ecotherapy, hypnotherapy, and integral systems change work. She facilitates individuals and groups in moving toward visions of justice and liberation for all, using embodied practices to create transformation along the full spectrum of decolonization and liberation work. Her work is deeply informed by emergent strategy, zen buddhism, quantum physics, epigenetics, revolutionary motherhood, abolition, and Mother Earth. PSfJ teaching interests: expressive arts practices for community mental/emotional health, embodiment and the individual and collective nervous system, building coalitional communities and reimagining conflict as a process for creating deeper intimacy, fostering spiritual practices and ancestral connection
Ricky Blissett is the Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Civic Life at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Their research primarily focuses on attitudes and ideologies in the politics of educational equity and justice, as well as the spaces in which public ideologies translate into policy action. Work in this area has included research on anti-racism activism and social movements in education, gender ideologies and the rights of transgender youth, and social psychological dimensions of public attitudes torward race-conscious policies in education. They are also the principal investigator of the Democracy and Equity in Education Politics research group, have been a lab co-leader for the Asian American Justice + Innovation Lab, and serve as the principal coordinator for the Just Education Policy institute.
Shengxiao Yu (she/her), known by her nickname Sole, is a speaker, facilitator, writer, and social justice educator. She is the creator of Nectar, a space where she provides political education for the community through giving keynote speeches, facilitating workshops, and providing thought leadership. Sole is the Progressive Partnerships Director at The Management Center where she oversees foundation partnerships that provide capacity-building support to grassroots organizations working in social change. Sole is also a writer for the Xin Sheng Project, a platform combating misinformation in the Chinese diaspora community by publishing in-language, progressive articles that shift perspectives and build intergenerational power. Sole has been a fellow of the Leadership Institute at the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment. As a generation 1.5 Asian American, Sole is also working to build community among her fellow Asian Americans in order to build socio-political power and to lift up her lineage. Sole is inspired by BIPOC activists, grassroots community leaders, and all the intersectional movement ancestors who have paved the way. Through AAJIL, Sole is interested in teaching workshops that help to contextualize our personal experiences in the broader socio-political context of Asian America. Sole approaches her workshops with the spirit of embracing complexity knowing that the personal and the political are always intertwined. Sole lives and works on unceded Tongva and Kizh land, colonially known as Los Angeles.