Margaret Myers
Adriana Flores Ragade
Grace Song
Sonya Vasquez
Melany De La Cruz Viesca

Grace Song

Grace Song

Policy Analyst at Community Health Councils
Los Angeles, CA

Can you explain your identity?

I grew up in Queens in the projects in section 8 housing in a mixed status family with two immigrant parents in a three generations household until late middle school. When I was heading into high school, both of my parents began their own businesses and that afforded me a different lifestyle with increased educational experiences and increased financial support to do so. We moved from New York City to the suburbs of Chicago and I began to learn a new world. I start there to better help folks understand that even though I do have a different educational and career status now, I did not start out along that path and I am actually self institutionalized and paid for both my Bachelors and my Masters degrees. We were a hard working blue collar family experience as my roots. I share that experience to uplift the stories of those that are attempting to go along that same path.
Equity Lookbook Episode 1

What do you know about what happened in 1992 in Los Angeles?

I officially moved to Los Angeles as a resident a year ago but I have had family out here since the 90s. I have always been familiar with the Korean immigrant community in Orange County in mostly Cerritos and Buena Park due to my family. I wasn’t familiar with the uprising until I learned about it and related it to the stories of the lives of my classmates from the south side of Chicago who I went to high school with. They were unfortunately very similar situations and this is where I began to learn about institutional racism in my family experiences in LA, Chicago and New York.

The most comparable story was similar to the injustice for mass incarcerations of young, unarmed black men in the south side of Chicago, also the inner gang violence activity and the pain and trauma in our community. A lot of times, the victims of the violence were children and so we would hear the stories through my peers and that was my early introduction to this type of situation. In my South East Asian community, I think we felt unfairly judged by the color of our skin. It is something that I continue to hear from my elders and the conflicts within the Asian communities and how they feel about how they are judged.

Are you familiar with Solidarity Economics?

I have heard Veronica Flores talk about it but I am not yet familiar with it. I assume it is rooted in addressing socio economic disparities and root causes how you invest in people that are marginalized and disenfranchised. I imagine that it addresses social determinants of health and particularly education and economic stability to lift people out of their current concentrated poverty.

Could you identify who would be the Top and who would be the Bottom in South LA using inspiration from the slogan, Tame the Top & Lift the Bottom?

Communities like Compton and Watts and those living with incredible disparities to health, economics and crime would be at the bottom of the scale. The Top would probably be those that are within institutions like elected representatives, Councilmembers and Supervisors who represent them and make decisions for them. As well as those that work in corporate institutions that have the power to reach into communities with money to funnel-in inter-community wealth but do not do so.
Equity Lookbook Episode 1

Focusing in on females in South LA, do you have experience with movements that call for women to generate wealth for other women?

In the reproductive justice and health space, I was a part of “Eco-women” in Wash- ington DC and focused on lifting women into power positions. I also helped with organizing for the women’s march in 2017. I learned that once we place women into positions of power, the subtle ripple effects of this type of representation and how it triggers change. I can attest that I did not see first generation US born Asian women in positions of power during my upbringing and I was constantly marginal- ized. I felt like any time I could stand up in a room as a double minority, it seemed like I was speaking for an entire population which was not fair and it wasn’t pro- moting equity.

Is there somebody in your life that is a contemporary woman that inspires you?

Yes, I have two and both are African American women and we all work in public health. They are from Pittsburgh. We connected because we are alike and we have shared lived experiences and the same language. Aliyah is a consultant that works to create equity frameworks in cities while working with elected officials to pro- mote equitable health outcomes. On a scale of 1-10, I think that female leadership in mainstream US culture is a 5. In my life, I have way more positive relationships with the women in my family as opposed to the men.

Do you know what an Evidence Based Research Model is and why we use it?

I am most comfortable with Community Based Participatory Research. For me working mostly in policy and development, the majority of my work deals with how do you convince a person in a power position to give you money or make a decision on my behalf. We use these models to convince them.
Equity Lookbook Episode 1

Do you know what convening is and why we do it?


How would you define wellness in the community?

This pandemic has shown me that holistic wellness is about ensuring safety and stability in a lot of different ways, emotional, financial, etc… My undergraduate college essay was focused on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Do you have an opinion on whether food policy is interconnected to wellness?

It is very interwoven. My passion lies in food and anti-hunger but what I see is that our broken food system remains in silos. The various issues related to workforce, safety, equity, access and affordability. As we leave it in silos and not interweaving it into our public health, we will continue to exist in this problematic framework.

Additional Comments from Grace

Outside of gaining knowledge, what do you do with this? How can you make people feel like they have the power to stop feeling powerlessness?