Dreaming As An Act of Resistance: An AANHPI Heritage Month Interview

To commemorate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, CFR interviewed Xinxin Zhou, one of our passionate and dedicated staff attorneys. As an attorney for our Manhattan family defense practice, Xinxin represents parents who have been targeted by the family policing system. In this interview, she discusses what AANHPI Heritage Month means to her, the intersections between race and family policing, and the aspirations she has for the future of this work. 

Interview responses lightly edited for clarity. 


CFR: As we celebrate AANHPI Heritage Month, can you share what this month means to you?

Xinxin Zhou: AANHPI Heritage Month to me is a celebration. A celebration of my family who raised me, the communities that formed me, the values that drive me, and my hopes for future generations to come. It’s a month of reflection and a way to honor my culture, and to take up space when historically AANHPI identities were not valued. It’s looking to the past, present, and future! And not to mention a time of enjoyment! 


CFR: This month’s theme is “Advancing Leaders Through Innovation,” which pays homage to the visionaries and trailblazers who have shaped our history and continue to influence the future. What does this mean to you, and how do you see your work at CFR supporting this?

Xinxin: When I think about leaders or visionaries, I think of people who dare to imagine a better world–in whatever field or discipline that may be. Education, policy/legislation, the arts, technology, and medicine, visionaries are people who can lead others into possibilities and potential that are more inclusive. Personally, there have been many Asian American leaders who have influenced and inspired me over the years: Grace Lee Boggs, a civil rights activist whose roots are from Michigan, and Corky Lee, a photojournalist and community organizer here in NYC just to name a couple. 

I see my work at CFR as an extension of that legacy–people who paved the way and now there is a passing of the baton to new generations; a call to action to advocacy, public service, and solidarity–inside and outside of the courtroom.


Xinxin (far left) with other CFR staff.

CFR: From your work at CFR, what intersections between race and family policing have you witnessed?

Xinxin: The system of family policing is based upon assumptions around what safety and child/family wellbeing are. The values that drive the system are foundationally prefaced by white supremacy. These are institutions that perpetrate and protect white supremacy while inherently excluding communities of Color, Black and Brown families, and low-income families. Excluding them by limiting the humanity of parents and families, selectively limiting resources, and penalizing issues of poverty–it is the premise of family policing/regulation.   


CFR: What hopes do you have for the future of this work?

Xinxin: I firmly believe the act of holding onto hope and dreaming is in itself an act of resistance. Particularly in family defense work where often the day to day challenges are enough for themselves…I think about my parents who often reminded me that they immigrated from China, not just in the pursuit of “better opportunities” for me but for an opportunity to hope. 

That being said, my hope for this work is that my very role as a family defense attorney would be obsolete. Where families find within their own communities the support, help, and resources they need for holistic safety. One imagined again outside of individualistic systems. These are values instilled in me since I was young. My parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and my neighbors were the first people to model for me that it takes a village.


This interview was conducted and published in May 2024.