April 9, 2021

Asian American Arts Workers Decry White Supremacy in Open Letter

Demonstrators at a protest against anti-Asian violence in New York’s Chinatown last month. Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr.

NEW YORK—A group of Asian American arts workers taking the collective moniker StopDiscriminAsian (SDA) has penned an open letter protesting racism and xenophobia exacerbated by the pandemic; expressing support for marginalized communities, including immigrants and elders; and calling for the decriminalization of sex workers and for an alternative to policing. The letter, which to date has drawn more than eight hundred signatories, comes amid an intense wave of anti-Asian violence, including the killings of six Asian women working at Atlanta-area massage parlors.

“We are art workers, we are educators, we are journalists, we are immigrants and the descendants of immigrants, we are parents and the children of elders like those who’ve been cruelly attacked in recent viral videos,” writes SDA. “We’ve all wondered if our next tense encounter in public will turn violent because someone doesn’t like our skin color or facial features. We are exhausted, scared, grieving, and angry, and yet we persevere.”

The letter—which noted a 2,700 percent uptick in arrests of Asian-identifying citizens in New York’s Chinatown between 2012 and 2016, and cited 68 percent of anti-Asian hate crimes in the past year as being aimed at women—has thus far garnered signatures from artists Candice Breitz, Wade Guyton, Anna Sew Hoy, Christine Sun Kim, Mai-Thu Perret, and Anicka Yi, and from curators Sohrab Mohebbi, Helen Molesworth, Laura Raicovich, and Christopher Y. Lew, among others. SDA casts violence against Asian Americans as part of a broader marginalization of people of color, and emphasizes the importance of building connections between oppressed groups.

“True solidarity acknowledges that white body supremacy and anti-Blackness have violent repercussions on all of us,” the collective wrote. “SDA reiterates its commitment to move forward together in solidarity with all marginalized groups against white supremacy and xenophobia.”

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