This Matters Because I Belong
I cannot believe that September is almost over! It’s been a whirlwind of a month and I don’t know if any of us anticipated how much responsibility we were truly taking on when we started a non-profit. At first, this was all an exhilarating, impossible idea. “We should do this! It needs to be done!” So we started.
In our minds, we were doing it slowly. It’s only now that we realize how fast we were actually moving. As we sped ahead with our mission, we kept asking ourselves “Why?” Why are we doing this? What is the point? Why are working long hours on little sleep and balancing multiple jobs at once to get this organization up and running as soon as we can?
It wasn’t until the evening of the Charm City Night Market that I began to understand why co-founding this organization is so important to me. No matter who stopped by our tent or how our conversations got started, I kept hearing the same thing over and over again: “I’ve been wanting to join an AAPI arts organization in this area and hadn’t found one until now.”
I know the feeling.
I’ve been a performing artist in the Baltimore region for fifteen years. My career began in this very city when I was still a teenager dreaming of becoming a successful actor. In all that time, I always felt alone. I was usually the only Asian or Filipino in most theater or arts circles I joined. I got used to it after a while - being the only one. I never realized how much I was craving a community of people with whom I could connect until we started doing this. Until this group, it never occurred to me that while I was looking for others who could relate to me, others might have been looking for me, too.
That is why this matters.
I want more of us to find one another through this organization. I want AAPI individuals in Baltimore to feel as if they are a part of a community and to finally have the opportunity to share their stories, represent their identities, advocate for themselves - and know that they are truly accepted. This matters because we all need to belong somewhere. It’s not just what we need - it’s what we deserve.
I am so grateful for this group of humans. I am grateful for the work that we have done thus far and for the work that I know we will continue to do together. I honestly don’t know how I found them. But I’m glad I did.
It’s a comfort to know that, after so long, I finally belong.
Written by Cori Dioquino, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Baltimore Asian Pasifika Arts Collective.
This matters to me because…
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