My Statement to the U.S. Delegation at the CERD Review

Hi everyone,

It’s 5pm on Thursday, August 15 and I’m drafting this blog post from an empty meeting room in the Palais Nations Building. The CERD review of the United States has adjourned and I have a little less than an hour to draft this blog before the USHRN dinner on the lake. It is phenomenal the advancement racial justice advocates have achieved to date. It was amazing to learn about the CERD review wherein the United States government reports on the state of racial justice in America.

I’d like to share with you the statement I made to the United States delegation at the official U.S. government consultation. I was originally allotted 2 minutes. At 6:29pm, I was called upon and asked to keep my question to 30 seconds.

“Good afternoon Mr. Ambassador and delegates

My name is May Nguyen.

I am the daughter of Vietnamese boatpeople, refugees to the United States. I celebrate my American citizenship by engaging in our political process through participation.

Mr. Ambassador, I was very much looking forward to a robust consultation with you and the delegates but my ability to participate has been handicapped by the delegation planning process. The planning process and agenda was not transparent and failed to communicate and engage with the largest civil society organizing entity at this UN CERD review, Ms. Ejim Dike and the USHRN. This failure has disabled my ability to participate meaningfully today through organizing within our network. And clearly you are being limited by this failure – insufficient time to address important issues and participation is frayed with boycotts and people leaving despite your influential panel of delegates. Nonetheless, I am delighted to be here for this very informative meet and greet.

Moving forward, Mr. Ambassador and delegates, how will you work with your staff to adjust your planning method to ensure U.S. civil society, organizations such as USHRN, and your delegation can co-host a robust consultation? … A democracy worthy of my parent’s harrowing trip across the Pacific Ocean and America’s President, someone I affectionately call our Organizer in Chief. Please do not say that you have run out of time to answer this question.”

During the USHRN debrief, members of the network identified the need to have legislatures in the delegation.  Additionally, I would say that how we plan an agenda could be as important as who is at the table.

May Nguyen
Public Interest Law and Advocacy Resource of Coastal Louisiana