AAPI Herstory: Nadya Okamoto in Conversation with Mitra Jalali Nelson, Current City Councilmember in Saint Paul, Minnesota

Mitra Jalali Nelson is reimagining how city government – and society – can operate

Mitra Jalali Nelson is currently serving her first full term as a City Councilmember for Ward 4 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In a year where the whole country is grappling with the overdue need to reimagine public safety and policing, Mitra has been actively working to do so in her community, which is close to where George Floyd was murdered.

Mitra shares that overtime funding for police departments absolutely should decrease, and instead government and our society need to decriminalize poverty and invest in crime prevention and communities. She also shared her goal of changing how city government works in the first place – shifting dynamics so councilmembers are going out into communities to hear the questions and concerns of residents, rather than waiting for residents to come lobby them.

As Asian Americans, Mitra shares that we “need to uncover the history of how Black American legislation” has allowed Asians and non-Black people to immigrate and succeed in America. We all need to be asking ourselves HOW we benefit in this anti-Black society. She warns that the “white supremacy framework will use us unless we are careful.”

Get in touch with Mitra and learn more about her work at her webpage!

AAPI Herstory is a series hosted by Nadya Okamoto, inspired by her academic work at Harvard with Dr. Vivian Shaw. Nadya Okamoto is the Founder of PERIOD and author of PERIOD POWER.


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