Asian American Racialized Identity and Social Empowerment: 

A program and community focused on justice and liberation for all centering Asian American activist history, AAPI experiences, emotional processing and somatic healing. 

Right now, AAPI folkx are living through a particularly challenging time.


Anti-Asian violence: The rise in anti-Asian violence, particularly targeted at our elders, has left us feeling unsafe and alone. This especially impacts those who live in historically underinvested parts of urban areas, such as Chinatowns, and who have to commute to work alone.


Lacking community: COVID-19 has created even more barriers to community building in an already disconnected world. It can be so challenging to find our people - the one who really see us, understand us, and who can care for our spirits.


Climate injustice: From the violent arrival of settler colonialism to the rise of the fossil fuel lobby, the land and waters of present-day United States have been systematically neglected and damaged. Along with the rest of the world, the United States is facing a climate crisis that disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, especially during this pandemic.

These challenges are arising in a broader context of various AAPI experiences.


The AAPI community’s position on the racial hierarchy is already tenuous. For a long time, many of us have been asking ourselves questions such as “How do I gain more confidence and speak up in racial justice conversations? “How do I hold space for the challenges in AAPI communities while fighting for Black Lives and other marginalized groups?”


Many in the AAPI community have felt “not enough.” Some of us have been told that we are not “Asian enough.” Some of us may have felt disconnected from our ancestral language, culture, practices, and we are unsure how to claim our AAPI identity. Some of us have been told that we are not “good enough” to be leaders, to make social change, and that we should just keep our heads down and follow the charted path.


Many in the AAPI community have questioned their belonging. We face questioning and rejection from white-dominated spaces, but even within AAPI spaces, some of us still have questioned our belonging because of our ethnicity or mixed ancestry, LGBTQ identity, immigration status, adoption history, socioeconomic class, and more.


Many of us feel that deeply connected communities are hard to find but we know that we deserve more.


The AAPI community desires a space that centers our history and experiences. We see a strong desire in the AAPI community to have a space that centers AAPI history, racial justice, deep conversations about identity, emotional resilience, and embodied healing. Many people are looking for a community that centers learning, that can hold them, and which will challenge them to dig deeper than before. We are here to provide just that. 


There is a long, deep, and rich history of AAPI activists fighting for our communities, building inter-racial solidarity, and shaping this country. However, much of their stories, struggles, and legacies are not part of the dominant narrative.  While COVID-19 has ignited a more intense wave of anti-Asian racism, anti-Asian racism is not new. We will take a critical look at this history so you feel more equipped to engage in current conversations around race, question old narratives and form new, more empowering ones. 



Our community is unique because it's a space for Healing Justice.


As children of the AAPI diaspora, many of us carry trauma from our family lineages and from our larger communities. Much of this trauma is physically carried within our bodies, hearts, and minds.  Many of us are chronically unseen, misunderstood, and silenced.  Go on a journey of healing that includes cultivating body awareness and emotional resilience with a community of folx who are also doing the work. 



Meet The Co-Founders

Hello! We are Carissa, Shengxiao (aka Sole), and Julia. We are three Asian American women who came together to create a program of deep learning and reflection alongside members of our community. We’ve each spent years consciously evolving on our own unique personal paths and in deep introspection of our racialized identities.  We are so happy that our paths converged at this time to bring AARISE to life.  

Carissa Begonia

Carissa is a U.S. born proud Filipina American.  Her corporate career path took an unexpected turn when she became a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a role that would unexpectedly uncover effects of trauma held onto from her first racist experience when she was nine years old.  Having earned her “seat at the table” and knowing first hand how it feels to be the only woman, minority, and millennial in the room in the very white world of corporate America, Carissa is a business and leadership coach whose mission is to increase the representation of womxn and POC on the board, in the C-suite, or who are CEOs of their own thriving businesses.  Earning her coaching certification in Emotional Intelligence, Carissa has equipped herself with language and tools to help people process and express their emotions, something she never learned from her stoic Asian parents.


Carissa is a super connector of people and ideas. Passionate about supporting AAPIs, she knew she wanted to create a program she felt was missing from her own education and trainings, one that melded social change with personal and professional development and that could help Asians to feel seen, heard, and connected.  A firm believer in serendipitous encounters, after meeting Julia and Shengxiao, she knew the world was ready for what she wanted to create and AARISE was born. 

Shengxiao “Sole” Yu (she/her)

Shengxiao’s birth name is in mandarin Chinese and also goes by Sole, in Spanish, as a nickname for she has lived in Latin America for some time. Sole is a generation 1.5 Asian American. Sole is a social justice educator and community advocate. In her career, she has worked alongside grassroots community leaders, in immigrant rights advocacy, and anti-oppression facilitation. Her approach to social justice education is grounded in the principles of anti-oppression: understanding how marginalized groups are systematically excluded from decision-making that impacts their lives, dismantling structural barriers marginalized groups face in accessing power, and actively confronting racism, colorism, sexism, classism, heteronormativity, ableism, and other harmful systems.


A few years ago, Sole began a journey to more deeply understand her own identity as a generation 1.5 immigrant, as an Asian American, and as someone situated in a family lineage of intergenerational trauma and as someone who has experienced racialized trauma in the United States. Sole uplifts the legacy of activists who coined the term “Asian American” while also problematizing the term for the ways it has perpetuated oppression in marginalized communities. Sole is excited about the AARISE course where we will personalize the political and politicize the personal in order to build power to heal ourselves and our communities.

Julia Berryman (she/her)

As a child of a Chinese mother and an English father and raised in the United States, Julia has spent much of her life navigating questions of Identity. While she celebrates the richness of her heritage and ability to serve as a bridge between cultures, she has also grappled with being the mixed-race “other” who doesn’t quite fit into any box. Her many years of soul searching & personal healing fuel her desire to support fellow Asian Americans to take ownership of their own identities and cultural heritage and to feel empowered standing for the causes they believe in. 


As an Artist + Sex, Creativity & Empowerment Coach, Julia blends art, dance, & emotional expression to help people discover their unique strengths & show up more fully expressed in their life. Her holistic approach is rooted in therapeutic and somatic teachings. Julia believes that to make systemic, institutional change, we must go beyond the theoretical and the intellectual. The effects of racism are visceral and have been passed down through our bodies from generation to generation. Drawing from her interests in healing intergeneral trauma & cultivating resilience, Julia is excited to contribute her body-based teachings to support AARISE participants tap into more joy, authentic expression & body awareness.

Our biases and positionality

We want to explicitly acknowledge that the three of us are able-bodied, cis-gender women who benefit from various privileges. We have benefited from our access to educational and professional spaces that have significant gate-keeping. We benefit, in varying degrees, from privileges associated with our different skin tones. We all exist in our individual intersections of privileges and oppressions and acknowledge that the three of us do not and cannot ever represent the full range of lived experiences within the Asian American community. We seek to bring in a diverse set of experiences and voices into the AARISE program.

Follow us on Instagram

AARISE inspired me to step into my truth and take up space. This was the first space I've been in where I felt seen and held. It was a brave space in every sense of the word. We were all able to show up as we were and this allowed us to unlearn, share, and question together as a cohort. I was able to ask questions and share from a place of inner truth. This type of community is hard to come by and I appreciate the facilitators for bringing forth their individual and collective talents. If you're looking to unpack and challenge what it means to be an AAPI, then this is the right supportive space for you. You'll walk away with new friends, new sense of self, and new skillsets!


Prior to AARISE, I was starting to chip away at my journey to self-acceptance with regards to my identity and my role in social change. I was feeling isolated during the pandemic and also a bit hopeless; I was craving a community, a deeper dive into Asian American history, and a sense of purpose. From the very first Zoom meeting, I could tell that this was special. In addition to (finally) learning about Asian American history and social justice education, I was given the tools to heal on a more somatic level and to better describe my emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed our intimate, small-group conversations. For the first time in a long while, I feel encouraged and optimistic!


I was looking to connect with Asian Americans who were open minded and interested in social justice. Now, I'm celebrating new friends that inspire and challenge me! Because of AARISE, my framework for “Asian American” has expanded. I grew up around Asian American doctors and accountants, but now I know Asian American artists, educators, and business owners, who are all doing some very bad ass things. I’m more aware of the unique and nuanced experiences of those who identify as Asian American, like those of adoptees, satellite babies, mixed heritage, and LGBTQ+ folks, and of those who may not want to claim that identity.


Sign Up For Our Mailing List

And get notifed of events and program offerings