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You Call Me Corona

Artist: Amy Manion, 36

Cambridge, MA

Ethnicity: Chinese

My spoken word video, You Call Me Corona, was created in response to the heightened racism I experience as someone who “looks like they could be Chinese” during this time of COVID-19. To most Asian/ Pacific Islanders, this racism that we experience is nothing new. In fact, racism towards me, and generationally, has colored so much of my identity and the way I see myself. As an Asian woman suicide attempt survivor, making this piece was truly inspiring for me. Taking pride in my culture and being myself unapologetically is how I resist and how I live in a world that seems to be at times antagonistic to me and my kind. 
I gain strength from my ancestors, from my faith, and my API people. I am totally in my power when I speak and sing my words. And that cannot be taken away. My experience cannot be denied because it is my own.

 

By participating in this project, I learned that I am not alone in experiencing heightened racism for being and looking East Asian. The Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, who accepted this piece into their Fall 2020 Public Service Announcement Suicide Prevention Campaign, let me know that this very racism toward the Asian population in America, was a contributor to the “underlying risk factors for suicide and heightened due to the Coronavirus.” They gave it a name. They let me know I am not crazy for feeling the way I feel. Feeling isolated, feeling othered, feeling targeted, and shunned. Hated. Disgraced.

 

Having my piece shared by HARMONIOUS—a community intervention program run out of UMass Medical Center that addresses the mental health needs of the Massachusetts Chinese community—and translated in to Chinese was a dream come true. I want to reach other people like me and that look like me, to unite in solidarity with our shared experiences, and strengthen our resolve, strengthen our desire to practice self-care. As Audre Lord, a black woman writer, stated about self-care: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

 

My hope is that by speaking my truth, and by being myself, I can inspire others to do the same. That I can gain strength in knowing I have something to say, knowing that others are listening. Knowing that they are witnessing what they may have a similar experiences with. Knowing that they are not alone and that there is help. That their voice matters. That they too can reach out for help. Whether that’s through the arts, movement, or finding a counselor or any other way they can care for themselves. We all need help on this journey and it is okay to ask for help. We deserve it. And we deserve to be heard and understood. Speak your truth. Find your tribe. Be a witness to your own story.