|Web Magazine Online|
|By April Liening|
My Interview with Li'i Furumoto
Li'i Furumoto is a fourth-year Asian American studies student with a specialization in Chicano studies. Li'i is a very busy UCLA student, in fact, I don't know how she has the time and energy to be involved with everything that she is a part of -- I think it is because she has a really big heart. Serving as a community programs officer for Higher Learning, a program geared toward developing at risk youth in L.A., Li'i says that she really enjoys building relationships with the high schoolers in the program. She has bonded with a lot of people in the program and has learned a lot from the youth, who are a lot smarter than one might originally think.
Li'i also leads the Community Labor Committee branch of MEChA., she works with the Asian Pacific Coalition (APC), and was the former External Director. Defying the stereotype that students are apathetic, Li'i not only seeks to make change on the campus level but, is also striving to make political action. Li'i represented the Affirmative Action Coalition, she fought against Proposition 187, and she is an active member of HERE Local 11 -- a hotel and restaurant employees union to help the exploited workers at the New Otani Hotel in Little Tokyo. As if that were not enough, Li'i also serves on a coalition to amend the Three Strikes Law.
A San Fernando City native, Li'i wants to be either a teacher or a community organizer after she graduates from UCLA. Basically, she wants apply the convictions she has received in college and live life in sync with her social change perspective.
An important issue in Li'i's life is the racial situation in L.A. Li'i believes that race relations at UCLA are not necessarily better than the rest of the United States, but are different. Race relation on campus, according to Li'i, are less overt and blatant than racism in the South, for example. However, Li'i still sees the white majority that is in power, she knows about the low admission rates for students of color, and she considers the Greek system to be racist. The bottom line, in Li'i's opinion, is that the race relations at UCLA reflect the condition of race in Los Angeles.
To promote better race relations, Li'i is working to bring back a new and improved Affirmative Action. Moreover, Li'i wants the university to take a strong stance in this area by:
1) providing more resources for student groups that are committed to improving race relations and helping oppressed people,
2) creating a college for ethnic studies,
3) having stricter regulations on hate crimes,
4) planning outreach for at risk youth, and
5) hiring more women and minorities on as faculty.
Li'i Furumoto is using her time here at UCLA not only to get a quality education but, also to help fight against systematic oppression. Spiritually speaking, she wants to submit herself unto the will of God so as to become his tool. Li'i Furumoto is an amazing woman, student and friend to those who need help, like the kids at Higher Learning and the exploited employees at the New Otani hotel. Those of us taking "Investigative Journalism and Communities of Color" are fortunate to benefit from the wealth of insight and experience that Li'i brings to class.
(April Liening is a Junior majoring in English.)