By Dylan Tran
Northwest Asian Weekly
As a junior at the University of Washington (UW), I often find that our cultural education is mostly limited to campus life. A few months ago, several American Ethnic Studies students and I decided to go beyond that. Looking for a means to celebrate arts and activism, we wanted to work with the larger Asian Pacific American communities in the Greater Seattle area. By encouraging other students to express themselves and learn more about the rich history of APIAs, we aimed to bridge the gap between generations of APIAs that came before us.
In February, we established Asian Americans for Arts Activism (A4A), a community-based, student-run organization with members from UW-Seattle, Southeast Asian American Education Coalition (SEAeD), OCA-Greater Seattle, Seattle University, Cleveland High School, Franklin High School, Garfield High School, South Seattle College, and Seattle Central College. Our goal is to combat the invisibility of APAs in mainstream media. We believe that the contributions of historically marginalized groups must be recognized and appreciated. Our focus will be on the Chinatown/International District, Beacon Hill, and the Rainier Valley — areas where most Seattle APIAs reside. Two months ago, we were fortunate to receive a small grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to celebrate our local arts.
May is significant because it is APIA Heritage Month. This month commemorates the arrival of the first Japanese to the United States (May 7, 1843), as well as the anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad (May 10, 1869).
Like the contributions of early Asian immigrants, our APIA artists are often forgotten and overlooked. With the prevalence of “model minority” stereotypes, APIA artists must overcome mainstream views that we are “robotic, technological geeks” and “sojourners” without any artistic vision. This month, we honor the rich history of APIAs and celebrate the achievements of our amazing artists and creators.
This month, A4A will host the free “Know Me” conference, from May 26-28. A4A highlights the lack of visibility for APIA Arts through three workshops. Due to limited space, an RSVP (firstname.lastname@example.org) is required for Day 1 and Day 3.
For more information, go to tinyurl.com/2018A4A.