View Transcript (208 KB)
Jo Pessin is a Filipina American who was born in Seattle, Washington. The youngest of four, her father migrated to the United States after joining the Navy and shortly after, her family moved to Oxnard, California, where she spent most of her life. She currently serves as the LA chapter lead of For Goodness Cakes, a non-profit organization that bakes birthday cakes for underprivileged youth and young adults. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, Pessin contributed to the supply van to Navajo Nation and joined the Auntie Sewing Squad. Shortly after, Pessin received a cancer diagnosis and found support in her community of Aunties. Today, Pessin still continues to make masks and provides support for the Auntie Sewing Squad.
(0:00) Jo Pessin talks about where she grew up in Oxnard CA. (3:38) Pessin goes on to discuss how she was not taught Asian American history and culture during her childhood education and recalls how she introduced these important topics into her children’s school. (6:10) Adding onto the subject of Asian American history, Pessin defines activism as having a voice and speaking out against the stereotype of not making waves. (9:00) When discussing the recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pessin mentions how the lack of support for several affected communities inspired her to join the Auntie Sewing Squad. (10:19) Pessin regards the Auntie Sewing Squad as a second family and looks warmly on how they provided support to her. (17:45) Pessin also recalls how she had learned to sew from her mother. (20:33) Next, Pessin discusses the other kinds of support and services offered by the Auntie Sewing Squad. (23:13) For example, Pessin talks about how the Squad has helped combat recent hate crimes against Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. (26:29) When the question of mentors is brought up, Pessin acknowledges Kristina Wong as her inspiration. (28:23) Going back to the discussion of family, Pessin mentions that she inspired her family to act outside of traditional roles. (31:27) Pessin then concludes the interview by including information on how to support the Auntie Sewing Squad and why it’s mission is important.
Jacob Goller; Kaye-Celine Celestino
Pessin, Jo, "Interview with Jo Pessin" (2021). Auntie Sewing Squad Interviews. 35.