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Resilience 2020: One activist's top nonprofits to give your money to

(Photo courtesy of Michelle Kim)
(Photo courtesy of Michelle Kim)

Michelle Kim wishes she didn’t always need to be strong.

“As a small business owner, as a queer person, as a woman, as an immigrant to this country, I think there's a lot of moments that I've had to overcome that I wish I didn't have to,” Kim said. “I wish that I don't have to be resilient all the time.”

Kim’s education, professional experience, and activism have primed her to be one of the leading voices of the cultural zeitgeist of 2020, and that’s what brought her to Verizon Media’s Resilience 2020 panel on the topic.

“I think we need to ask the question of why are we continually having to be resilient in the face of struggles that are converging,” she said.

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This Virgo turns 32 today. This past year has been filled with immeasurable pain, trauma, grief, fear, and sadness, and I know so many of us are exhausted from hurting and fighting. The fight is only going to get more intense and gruesome as we head into November. In times like this, my birthday wish for all of us is to make room for our collective joy, freedom, healing, community, and HOPE amidst the fight. My wish for all of us is to TRULY BELIEVE change IS POSSIBLE. And that we can WIN. I see so many folks already working to build capacity for the worst case scenario. I get it. This is what we do and what we know how to do so well. Overcoming is what we are good at. But I want us to actually believe we can WIN. And fight like we WILL. Years ago I crack opened a fortune cookie that had a fortune that said: “Don’t give into cynicism.” I still live by this. Fighting for our collective freedom and justice is my life’s work. And I know that we can’t keep going unless we learn how to soothe each other’s pain along the way and how to heal through joy wherever we can find it. On my birthday, I am choosing hope. I am choosing community. I am choosing joy. I am choosing healing. I am choosing wholeness. I am choosing love. I am choosing US. My good friend and mentor @kalamendoza (incredible organizer and creator of the Asians for Black Lives artwork!) told me after a brutal protest that left me shocked and gutted: “I love you more than they hate us.” I love you more than they hate us. I love you more than they hate us. I love you more than they hate us. We can win this. And I am prepared to fight harder than ever and give everything I’ve got to help folks do the same. Happy birthday to me. Let’s go. #birthday #2020 #vote #joy

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A social justice activist who calls Oakland, California, home, Kim feels that the pandemic, traumas, and tragedies of the last year are revealing systemic inequalities. It’s also bringing to the fore the societal expectation that marginalized people must carry the emotional labor of sharing the playbook on how to dismantle inequity.

As the CEO of Awaken, a leading provider of interactive Diversity & Inclusion workshops for professionals, Kim uses her voice and her words as a public speaker and published writer to be an advocate and champion for social justice.

Kim feels it’s her responsibility to elevate those around her so she shared some of the non-profit organizations she’s most passionate about and implored others to “put your money where your heart is.”

  • National Bail Out

    • The National Bail Out collective is a Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support our folks and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration. We are people who have been impacted by cages — either by being in them ourselves or witnessing our families and loved ones be encaged. We are queer, trans, young, elder, and immigrant.

  • Native American Health Center

    • NAHC is on a mission to provide comprehensive services to improve the health and wellbeing of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and residents of the surrounding communities with respect to cultural and linguistic differences.

  • Seeding Sovereignty

    • In a time of climate crisis, Seeding Sovereignty; an Indigenous-led collective, works on behalf of our global community to shift social and environmental paradigms by dismantling colonial institutions and replacing them with Indigenous practices created in synchronicity with the land.

  • TGI Justice Project

    • TGI Justice Project is a group of transgender, gender variant and intersex people — inside and outside of prisons, jails and detention centers — ​creating a united family in the struggle for survival and freedom.

  • People's Breakfast Oakland

    • People’s Breakfast Oakland (PBO) is a grassroots Black socialists political organization which serves the houseless community essential resources. Founded by Delency and Blake in 2017, the organization has fed, provided clothing, and hygiene packs to over 5000 of Oakland residents.

  • Roots Community Health Center

    • Founded in Oakland, California, the mission of Roots Community Health Center is to uplift those impacted by systemic inequities and poverty. We accomplish this through medical and behavioral health care, health navigation, workforce enterprises, housing, outreach, and advocacy.

"These nonprofits are BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and they focus on serving marginalized communities disproportionately impacted by multiple systemic inequities simultaneously happening right now. I believe it is more critical than ever to amplify their work and to funnel resources to ensure their impact continues to spread," she said.

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Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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