International Clash Day: Spotlight on U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle

International Clash Day, Interviews, Community Partnerships
02/05/2018
KEXP

Because The Clash was anti-racist, anti-fear, pro-solidarity, pro-unity, pro-inclusion, KEXP is taking time to spotlight local social-justice organizations making a difference in our community. This is a public service announcement with GUITARS.


INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED BY ALINA SANTILLAN
recorded and edited by Emily Harrop and Matt Schmidt

U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle provides sacred spaces to strengthen the minds and bodies of Queer & Trans-Pacific Islanders (QTPIs) through community organizing, political engagement, and cultural stewardship. We talked to Taffy Maene, Executive Director, about their mission and ways we can get involved. 

Taffy has a background in human services and worked as a case manager with the State of WA-DSHS. Taffy’s work with social justice began in San Francisco prior to moving to Washington State, and has been working in the South King and Pierce County community for over 10 years around immigration reform, gender, racial and transformative justice in the community, and involvement in the A&PI communities. Taffy has been a resource, refuge, and support to many fa’afafine and PI individuals who are making the long trek to the Pacific Northwest in search of better opportunities. She continues to provide resources, provide shelter, and assist with employment, housing, healthcare, and advocacy for marginalized and underserved populations. Taffy works alongside organizations, coalitions, and community leaders in empowering those most oppressed by class, race, or gender identity; committed to working toward social justice and equity for communities of color and the 2SLGBTQI community.

KEXP's Alina Santillan and U.T.O.P.I.A.'s Taffy Maene // photo by Owen Murphy

 

My name is Taffy Maene. I am unapologetically fa'afafine and a trans-woman of color. I am the founding executive director for U.T.O.P.I.A: United Territories of Pacific Islanders Alliance, the Seattle chapter. U.T.O.P.I.A's a grassroots organization born out of the struggles, challenges, strength, and resilience among the queer and trans-Pacific Islander community.

KEXP: What is the mission of U.T.O.P.I.A?

Since 2009, we have strived to create a safe, welcoming, supportive, and vibrant space for members of our community to address basic needs, to build pathways toward a new expanded career and life opportunities, to foster a sense of common purpose, and to advocate for social justice education and overall wellness among members of the Pacific Islander LGBTQI community.

U.T.O.P.I.A. Seattle is a trans-led organization whose work is driven by the expressed needs and aspirations of Pacific Islanders in the LGBTQI community. We regularly conduct community forums and listening sessions to provide a safe space in which community members can express themselves, identify concerns and new ideas for positive impact, and deepen the level of engagement among all LGBTQ folks and particularly those who are invisible and are vulnerable. And that has been the very soul of our work, providing frontline support and advocacy to people for whom gender identification has resulted in harassment, discrimination, severely limited work opportunities, and even criminalization. And so over the past eight years, our work has evolved to include five major areas of focus which includes education and employment, support and safety, support for immigrants, and advocacy and community care. 

How can people get involved with U.T.O.P.I.A?

Visit us on Facebook or our website. Also, contact us via email at mail@utopiaseattle.org, or also join us at some of our events or sessions, volunteer by getting involved. We're always looking for volunteers, and with folks' support, we can continue to empower Pacific Islander indigenous identities, such as fa'afafine or māhū lady community through workshops and peer-led support groups centered on acceptance, self-love, and chosen family, provide support to our Pacific Islander trans- and gender-nonconforming folks with a focus on safety, worker rights, self-care, building community, etc.. and build leadership of QTPI or queer, trans-Pacific Islander individuals through cultural stewardship, community organizing, coalition building, and leadership development, as well as organizing for the rights of Pacific Islander immigrants, QTPI families, and sex workers in Washington state and in the islands. And last fight for climate justice to build a better world for generations to come. 


 

KEXP is celebrating International Clash Day on Wednesday, February 7th, both online and on the air; click here to see more KEXP interviews and articles.

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