huggingAsians was my first response to the death of 59-year-old Tian Sheng Yu by the hands of two Black youth in Oakland on April 16, 2010. His death sparked a media frenzy around perceived (and real) tensions between Asians and Blacks in and around the San Francisco Bay area. As of this writing, in Oakland, yet another Asian man appears to have been victimized in his car by two Black youth. He was shot and killed during a robbery.
Now, I want to create a large-scale work specifically aimed at bringing attention to the shared histories of Asians and Blacks in America, a collaborative work that could give voice to people in those communities (like me) as we create an art-intense, inclusive, accessible and travel-ready stage work.
ORIENT: a new anthropology will consider Asian-Black conflicts in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles through taped interviews, music, poetry, images and movement. ORIENT will begin with 19th-century anthropology, which sought to divide humans into distinct "races," such as Mongoloids (Asians) & Negroids (Blacks), to create "Lower Forms of Man."
It'll continue by tracing modern-day conflicts (like the 1992 LA Riots violence between Asian grocers and the Black community) from significant influences in American history like the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1942), Jim Crow segregation, the Japanese Internment of World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Civil Rights Movement, the creation of Affirmative Action, the rise of Japanese automotive industry and the culture of hip hop.
Ultimately, ORIENT will document a 150-year divide as these two groups have vied for rights and recognition in modern America, while, at the same time, form questions and answers about ways to undo the stereotypes, racism and rage.
- (42 days)