Ways to Change the World

Photographers were also asked to reflect on ways they would like their world to change.   Some provided specific actions such as change in leadership, improved communication, improving the healthcare system, and finding better ways to address mental health. There were thoughts about revamping the current work structure, economic justice, and protecting the environment. The continued killings of the Black community brought forth a renewed and strong sense of urgency for AANHPIs to support the Movement for Black Lives. Because we are in this together and have a shared global fate, there was a strong desire for more openness and compassion for treating others with respect and emphasis on social justice are the norm.

Title of Image: Asian Black Unity

Name: Jessica Li    

Ethnicity: Hong Kong        

Date Image was Captured: 6/7/20

Time Image was Captured: 12:45:00 PM

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
East Asian woman standing on the stairs, holding a microphone and talking.    

What does this image mean to you? 
I'm talking at an Oakland Chinatown clean up event about the anti-blackness in the Asian community and the need to support black lives matter. Chinatown was looted and vandalized after the protestors were infiltrated during a protest in downtown Oakland. Over 300+ members of both the Asian and Black community in Oakland came out to help clean up Chinatown and demonstrated how we need to be united at this time.

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
We all need to be anti-racists and eliminate anti-blackness within Asian Pacific American communities. 

Title of Image: #whitecoatsforblacklives

Name: Jennifer Nguyen

Ethnicity: Chinese American

Age: 33

Date Image was Captured: 6/6/20

Time Image was Captured: 10:03:00 AM

Location Image was Captured: Seattle City Hall, Seattle, Washington

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
A crowd of thousands of healthcare workers, therapists, social workers, doctors, and nurses standing together in masks in the street, on the sidewalk, and peacefully protesting to stand against racism and the injustices that the Black community has faced.

 

What does this image mean to you? 
The Coronavirus has caused death, pain, anxiety and stress and will impact us forever. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the pandemic has brought out the fire of this country. The black community has cried out for help and we are not going to sit quiet and let it happen anymore. 

 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
I believe that COVID-19 has caused folks to spend more time inside and in doing so, people are more impacted by media and what they see and have seen the exposed racism and brutality of the police. It has been a distressing few months and if the protests can help to embark positive change for our Black community, we are starting to make change.

Title of Image: Protestors on 16th

Name: Janet Namkung

Ethnicity: Korean

Age: 31

Date Image was Captured: 6/5/20

Time Image was Captured: 5:51:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: 16th Street NW in DC proper

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
A black and white photo shot through a wet, bus window. A view of 20+ protestors with signs supporting Black Lives Matter, all lined up on a busy sidewalk with historical buildings, homes, and trees in the background. 

What does this image mean to you? 
On my way to a protest to defund MPD (DC Police Dept.), I saw protestors lined up covering the sidewalks of 16th Street NW in support of BLM. I was on a bus going downtown on the road that leads straight to the White House. That day was particularly difficult. While the protestors were coming out in full force, the city was hit by hard rainfall that resulted in flooding. But it was incredibly encouraging to see so many people still out to protest, volunteer at food stations, and just be there to support.  

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
More and more murders of Black Americans by the hands of law enforcement officers are being seen, captured, and shared. I hope these protests do not lose their steam and continues to show the power of people rising up for what they believe in. Another Black life cannot be lost by the hands of racists, white supremacists, and those who take their privileges for granted. 

Title of Image: Protest and Sanitize

Name: Sriya Bhattacharyya

Ethnicity: South Asian - Indian

Age: 33

Date Image was Captured: 6/4/20

Time Image was Captured: 5:27:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Bronx, NY Inside of Montefiore Hospital Emotional Support Center

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
This photo is of the hand sanitizer bottle on top of emotional support resources, taken inside of the emotional support center at Montefiore Medical Center. The post it note on the bottle reads, "Standing in solidarity with Black Lives at the 210th Street Entrance...BRB."

 

What does this image mean to you? 
I took this photograph a few minutes before a demonstration held outside of Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, one of the hardest hit COVID-19 hospitals, witnessing a disproportionate number of deaths in Black communities. The demonstration was kneeling from 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time it took for an officer in Minneapolis to murder George Floyd. It highlights how emotional support is standing with those most affected, not just to validate their emotions, but to resist the horrific realities Black colleagues and community members face.

 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
Anti-Black racism and white supremacy. I'd like to see collective mobilization and movements toward liberation. I'd like to see the goals of the Black Visions Collective realized, and I'd like Asian Americans to stop trying to aspire toward whiteness and instead stand with our Black brothers and sisters.

Title of Image: Black Lives Matter - Artist Unknown

Name: Courtney Ozaki    

Ethnicity: Japanese    

Age: 36    

Date Image was Captured: 6/3/20

Time Image was Captured: 8:45:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Denver, CO

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
It’s after dark and a Black Lives Matter mural on the side of a Denver building near the Capitol is colored with a rainbow heart that states “your struggle is our struggle” and pays tribute to George Floyd and other black lives that were taken too soon.

What does this image mean to you? 
Art is a platform that speaks broadly and powerfully.  I took this picture following spending 4 hours at a vigil for George Floyd in Denver’s Civic Center Park; inspired by young Black voices activating change. Peaceful protests continue in Denver.  We as Asian Americans need to stand up and speak up for Black lives here and everywhere, now and always. 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
We need to spend our time wisely and not waste it.  Take the opportunity to learn something that will challenge our perspectives and help us to grow empathy and compassion.

Title of Image: Disability is an Intersection

Name: Grace Tsao

Ethnicity: Chinese American

Date Image was Captured: 5/29/20

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
Pictured is an Asian American woman with light/medium skin and shoulder length black hair wearing a Frida Kahlo cloth mask, large hoop earrings, and a turquoise t-shirt with a drawing of women of various races, ethnicities, and disabilities with their fists raised. The words “Disability is an Intersection” is written in black across the top of the shirt. In the background is a wall tapestry on an off-white wall depicting an Asian pagoda, a peacock, a mountain, and a red flower and a white windchime with shapes of cats made of shell hanging in front of it. She is between two white doors and the black armrests and headrest of her wheelchair are partially visible.    

What does this image mean to you? 
It has been difficult being a member of two marginalized communities being targeted during this pandemic. As a person with a disability with limited lung function it is hard enough knowing that there is a virus that may be able to kill you without the pervasive racism and ableism that is permeating through society. Asian Americans that look like me are being blamed for the coronavirus and have been viciously assaulted with vile and violent racist attacks, both verbally and physically in hate crimes and incidents throughout the nation. Discussions and efforts concerning medical rationing during this crisis that deems my life as less worthy of saving over someone without chronic conditions devalues people like me as human beings. Being a disabled Chinese American woman during this time in our history has taken a toll on the state of my mental health. But this image shows that I am resilient and will get through this just as I have so many other difficult journeys in life.    

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image?
I hope that the disparities that have been highlighted and that have always existed will continue to be at the forefront of our nation’s consciousness. Vulnerable groups like seniors, people with disabilities, and members of Black and Brown communities have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has also highlighted our lack of a national safety net. Having universal healthcare, universal basic income, paid sick leave, and guaranteed childcare is a need not a want, this pandemic has proved this. I hope that our nation will begin to address these needs in a substantial way. I also hope that things like working remotely, telehealth and teletherapy visits, and having access to activities, meetings, events, and conferences in an online platform will continue long after the crisis is over. These are things that the disability community has long requested but are often denied, has now been realized in the COVID-19 era since the rest of society needs it. The devastating effects of COVID-19 on the nursing home population also illustrates the importance of providing home health and personal assistant services so that people can live in the community. I hope that we can move toward this goal.

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Title of Image: 21400D

Name: Allyson Goto

Ethnicity: Japanese American    

Age: 24

Date Image was Captured: 6/14/20

Time Image was Captured: 8:29:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Home

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
Torso of a woman wearing a black hoodie. Printed on the chest of the hoodie in white lettering are the words "Proud Descendant of 21400D". There is also barb wire running down one arm of the hoodie. (21400D refers to her grandmother's incarceration number during WWII and the mass incarceration of Japanese/Japanese Americans in the United States)

What does this image mean to you? 
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I have been thinking a lot about my grandmother and her experience growing up as Japanese American in the United States and her incarceration experience as a teenager. I first started thinking about her when COVID-19 had just begun. While I was in conversations with friends about the xenophobia they were experiencing and the heightened anxiety I began feeling when going out in public, I remembered that this type trauma and unease wasn't something new for us. Even for me, generations removed, the feeling is familiar and easily resurfaces emerging from the stories of racism we heard growing up and our lived existence in a void of things (culture, language, pictures, stories, etc.) that were stolen by the pain of the incarceration experience. I chose to take a picture wearing a hoodie with my grandmother’s incarceration identification number as an effort to reclaim a narrative that was dominated by shame for her, but has become one of inspiration for me.

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image?
I would like to see massive systemic change. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color due to the unjust systems that disadvantage black and brown folx in every facet of their life including access to health care, housing, food access, etc. We must dismantle the racist institutions and structures that have created these environments and redistribute resources to programs that serve our communities and are rooted in equity and healing.

Title of Image: Food Pantry: Recycling

Name: Sasen Cain

Ethnicity: South Asian

Age: 37

Date Image was Captured: 5/1/20

Time Image was Captured: 12:38:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Iglesia Pentecostal Esmirna

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
A cascade of empty cardboard boxes next to a blue recycling bin and dumpster. One box has the logo of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

What does this image mean to you?
During Covid-19, I became a client at a food pantry rather than a volunteer. I couldn't have survived without this nourishment, and I'm deeply grateful. 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
I hope we continue donating to food banks and working toward eliminating food insecurity in our communities.    

Title of Image: Reservoir

Ethnicity: Filipinx American

Date Image was Captured: 6/3/20

Time Image was Captured: 7:38:00 PM

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
It's a landscape picture of the sun setting reflecting on a huge body of water with outlines of trees surrounding the entire horizon.

 

What does this image mean to you? 
Walking around the reservoir everyday has helped my mental health tremendously during this difficult time. Being able to zone out have helped me escape briefly from all the uncertainties and the reality of white supremacy in this country. This picture reminds me of "Isang Bagsak," which translates in Tagalog as "one fall." Filipinx and Mexican farm workers in the 1960s came together to form the United Farm Workers. At the end of each day they would do a unity clap and shout "isang bagsak" which means that today's struggle ends and tomorrow is another day of struggle. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors, it is our duty to realize their dreams of a just society.

 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
Black lives matter, defund and abolish the police state and system, reparations for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), end of capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy. 

Title of Image: Shining A Light

Name: DJ Ida

Ethnicity: Japanese American    

Date Image was Captured: 6/2/20

Time Image was Captured: 11:00:00 AM

Location Image was Captured: my living room

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired?
A lamp sits on an end table softly shining a light on a collection of Japanese folk toys.

What does this image mean to you?
On May 15, NAAPIMHA put together a virtual round table "Shining A Light on API Mental Health" to raise awareness around mental health that doesn't just focus on diagnosis.  We also wanted to shine a light on hate crimes against Asian Americans, the importance of showing solidarity with Black Lives Matter, voting, the census... I chose this image because it is shining a light on my collection of Japanese folk toys because I firmly believe that Mental HEALTH is also celebrating who we are as Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Claiming who we are is a way to fight racism and take away the power of those who chose to see us through a racist lens.

 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
Hopefully we can eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. It is imperative that we advocate to increase resources for our community-based organizations that provide culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services using a broader public health approach, respecting the strength of the community, not just focusing on the problems.

 

Title of Image: Through the Screen No. 3

Name: Dao Than

Ethnicity: Vietnamese    

Age: 28

Date Image was Captured: 5/29/20

Time Image was Captured: 4:00:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Ngoai's House

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
Through the Screen No. 3 depicts my grandma ngoai sitting in her house, talking to me through her screen door.     

What does this image mean to you? 
Family is undeniably the biggest part of Asian culture. When the quarantine was put in place, that part of our culture also became the hardest to uphold, especially for my grandma. She has stubbornly lived alone in her house for over 30 years. We would check up on her frequently to make sure she is doing well. The fear of COVID made this practice very difficult—what is safe? Staying away and isolating her? Or visiting her to ensure her safety?

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
Consideration of others. Hands down. When the COVID-19 experience began, a lot of people were not worried because they considered themselves to be young and healthy, myself included. The mentality was something along the lines of “I don’t care if I catch the virus because I will survive it.” The reality of it is that some people will not and did not survive. I just hope that we can all learn to be more considerate of others. Simply, our actions affect other people and sometimes those effects are unbearable. 

Title of Image: Reading is Fundamental

Name: Lynda Viray

Ethnicity: Filipino American

Title of Image: Family and Fish

Name: Jennifer Phung    

Ethnicity: Japanese American

Age: 22    

Date Image was Captured: 4/22/20    

Time Image was Captured: 2:06:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Westminster, CA

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired?
My Grandpa, mom, dad and myself holding up a large fish at the dinner table.     

What does this image mean to you? 
This image represents the power of small moments: Dinner with family and all the love and strength to hold each other up.

 

Title of Image: February 1, 2020 Notes

Name: Maxine Bell 
Instagram: @maxinearts

Ethnicity: Mixed Japanese American

Age: 20

Date Image was Captured: 2/1/20

Time Image was Captured: 2:15:00 PM

Location Image was Captured: Boston Public Library

How would you describe your image, to someone who may be visually impaired? 
My image is a screen shot of my iPhone notes from February 1, 2020, there’s a small black pencil sketch of myself wearing a blue mask and red earrings. Below reads the hand written text, “When will I not be an alien, a virus, a myth, a fascination, a threat, someone the world wishes to silence?”.

What does this image mean to you? 
An unconventional photo, a screen shot to show my exact thoughts in the beginning of the corona virus outbreak in the US. I felt the shift in the air as I sat in public. Extra cautious of my actions, the actions of others around me, and I had just spoke with my friends about the Asian Australian man who died because nobody wanted to give him CPR two days prior. The shift in the air while intense, was and always has been a familiar one. 

Based on your COVID-19 experience, what would you like to see changed in your world, that may or may not be related to your image? 
I want this Asian American history to not be lost in the present or in the future. We must continue to break silence and make sure our lived experiences are known. There’s a rhetoric that this is the first time where Asians are facing racism. All Asians know this is not true. We are stripped from the stories of the mass lynching of Chinese American men, the no-no boys during WWII, and the life of Vincent Chin in our textbooks. If we never learn our history, we will continue to convince ourselves that our forced silences are meant to be, and that our daily experiences of being called a “chink” “gook” “jap” are meant to be dismissed as simple bird sounds. 

 

LIFE/COMMUNITY CHANGES
RACISM/
INTOLERANCE
CONNECTION/
ISOLATION
SERVICE TO OTHERS
HEALTH/
MENTALHEALTH
WAYS TO CHANGE THE WORLD

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