Michelle (she/her/hers) channels rage into action.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’m a Korean American immigrant woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. I am the author of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change and co-founder of Awaken, an equity education company where I’ve worked with hundreds of organizations on their equity and inclusion journey.
I serve on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE), a network of 11 different progressive Asian American social justice organizations working to create a more just world for all marginalized communities. I spend most of my waking hours thinking, writing, and talking about how we can transform ourselves in order to transform the world (thank you, Grace Lee Boggs).
I live in the Huichin territory on the unceded land of the Chochenyo Ohlone peoples, also known as Oakland, California!
Q: So much of our company is rooted in the re—inc founders' own quest to reimagine norms and barriers society has placed on us. How do you reimagine norms in your life?
A: As a queer Korean immigrant woman, I defy limiting one-dimesional expectations placed on me by existing as my most authentic, complex, and multidimensional self every single day. I do my best to bust through the model minority myth by speaking my truth and sharing my lived experiences and the way my identities impact the way I move through the world.
Q: With our new collection, All The Rage, we're drawing awareness to the beauty of gender freedom and calling attention to gender injustice. How do you channel your rage into action?
A: I believe underneath our rage is deep, inextinguishable love. We are enraged by the injustice and violence we witness because we love and care about one another. This recognition is so important so we can properly channel our rage toward ensuring the wholeness, dignity, and freedom of those marginalized by systems of oppression (vs. prioritizing revenge or punishment of those that cause harm, sometimes even at the expense of the most marginalized). I channel my rage into action through language. I write, speak, facilitate, and share stories with the hope of creating a sense of relief, solidarity, and possibility toward action, all rooted in my deep love and hope for our collective humanity.
"I believe underneath our rage is deep, inextinguishable love. We are enraged by the injustice and violence we witness because we love and care about one another." — Michelle MiJung Kim
Q: Can you share a book that has been influential in the work you do?
A: Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider was a pivotal book for me as a youth activist and it continues to ground me today! Some of my recent favorites that have informed my work also include We Will Not Cancel Us by adrienne maree brown, We Do This ‘Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba, and My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. Chanel Miller’s Know My Name will forever be one of my favorite books of all time and has been instrumental in my own healing.
Q: With the ongoing fight for progress and equity, we stand on the shoulders of those before and around us. Who has inspired the work you do and why?
A: The teachings of Grace Lee Boggs, a Chinese American civil rights activist and labor organizer, have been an anchor for me and my book, The Wake Up. Her belief that in order to transform the world, we must transform ourselves first continues to serve as the most foundational social justice principle that grounds me and my work.
I continue to learn so much from some of our most brilliant thinkers of our time, like adrienne maree brown, Mariame Kaba, Mia Mingus, Ijeoma Oluo, and more.
Writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur Michelle MiJung Kim with her book The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change.
Q: At times, these past few months have felt hard. What keeps you hopeful in the fight for progress?
A: Mariame Kaba said, “hope is a discipline.” It is so easy—and dangerous—to become cynical and jaded about what is possible, especially in the midst of so much trauma and violence. But as soon as I start to pay attention to what is happening all around me, I see that there are so many people working to cultivate freedom, healing, and joy right here, right now: Communities organizing to care for one another in the absence of systemic support, marginalized people creating affirming spaces to heal and experience joy together, young people speaking out and reshaping our future… everywhere, there are people mobilizing to create change in their own spheres of influence. All of this gives me hope.
Q: One of our core beliefs is that you must nourish yourself in order to persevere and create change. How do you care for yourself and replenish your spirit?
A: Therapy, somatics, meditation, and journaling are some of the tools that have been instrumental in my healing journey. I also believe that we heal in community—being in community with people who make me feel seen and held, majority of them also queer women of color, helps me to replenish my soul and spirit :)