Arlene Inouye, who has served as the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) secretary, treasurer and bargaining co-chair, has completed her term and retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District. But she’s not done yet. 

Arlene Inouye

She will work part-time with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Multimedia Textbook project, a one-of-a-kind narrative change resource being developed for high school students. 

The California AAPI Legislative Caucus committed to teach AAPI history and funded an initiative as anti-Asian hate crimes have risen since the COVID pandemic. (   

The project brings together distinguished scholarship, open access technology and ethnic studies pedagogy. Inouye is excited about this opportunity to deepen and provide  comprehensive public knowledge about who Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are, which is highlighted through four foundational themes: global capitalism and migration; war and empire; race, power and identity; and community-building and social justice. (

“Like many Sanseis, when growing up I did not have the understanding or support to process the incarceration of my family and community,” Inouye said. “It was through being healed from the trauma that my family endured that I was able to understand how the ‘model minority’ stereotype has been used as a wedge to silence us and to divide us against other people of color. It  gave me an understanding of racial justice that has driven me to transform public education and the union into a force for societal change and as a catalyst in the movement for racial, educational and social justice.”

Inouye was awarded the Human and Civil Rights Ellison S. Onizuka 2023 Award at the National Education Association on July 2 for her work as a union leader and community activist. She has encouraged and empowered many, especially women of color, to become community and union leaders. Her work embodies the spirit of the first AAPI NASA scientist, Ellison S. Onizuka, who died aboard the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. 

She will also be awarded a Community Leadership Award at the Asian Democrats of Los Angeles County Inaugural Awards Banquet on Aug. 20, 4 to 6 p.m., at the San Gabriel Grapevine Arbor. Other awardees will include Rep. Judy Chu, California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board member Mike Eng, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Long Beach City Councilmember Suely Saro, and Los Angeles County Democratic Party Recording Secretary Olivia Lee. For more information, contact Andrew Murphy at

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *