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Content warning: In this post I reference recent events which include racial and gender violence.

"Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters." ~ Audre Lorde

On Saturday, March 27, 2021, I went to two rallies here in New York City. Both were to show solidarity in the struggle against anti-Asian violence and white supremacy. That makes three I've attended so far in 2021 specifically around this issue. Sadly, they probably won't be the last.

I will say that, despite the serious nature of these events, I feel a sense of hope whenever I'm at one. This is because I get to see firsthand how various groups are working together to build community with each other. I saw this last year as well at the People's March in Harlem and other rallies.

“My priority would be to fight against polarization. Because this whole society is so polarized. I think there are so many issues that all people of color should come together on, and there are forces in this country who want this polarization to take place.” ~ Yuri Kochiyama

It's not just that they're multi-racial. Many are using these events to highlight other, equally pressing concerns such as homophobia/transphobia, union/labor issues, gender violence, and decriminalizing sex work, among others. The aim is not just to show solidarity. It also serves to highlight how these struggles connect with and compound the primary ones being discussed, which in this case is anti-Asian violence. Alongside this they often emphasize how communities can provide care and safety for each other when officials and institutions fail to do so. A refrain I often hear at events like these is, "We keep us safe."

Sadly, this sense of community and intersectionality isn't what people get exposed to via mainstream media outlets. When it comes to accurate reporting and storytelling they are oftentimes part of the problem. For example, after the murder of eight people in Atlanta on March 16, 2021, it quickly became apparent that U.S media outlets didn't know how to center the female Asian victims (six in total). There were issues in terms of not properly pronouncing or writing the names of the deceased. Many outlets didn't have Asian reporters in a position to cover the tragic event. The way they covered the perpetrator was problematic, to put it mildly. The list goes on.

On a personal level, I've seen that the media's insistence on covering the more sensational aspects of Black Lives Matter events (e.g., highlighting property damage or clashes with law enforcement) in 2020 has scared people from participating in similar ones. This past weekend I invited a colleague who has Asian children to attend one with me. Her children told her that they were nervous about going because they were scared that the police would teargas them. This was disheartening, especially since two of the three events were explicitly meant to be family friendly (and were). I completely understand their concerns, however. How many others are reluctant to participate, not because they don't support the cause, but due to the framing of these events as necessarily violent?

All this to say: The lack of diversity and inclusiveness in the news media industry impacts what stories get told, and by whom. It has real world effects which adversely impact marginalized people and communities. This needs to be addressed. Until that occurs, people will continue to find other ways to be heard, seen, and make a difference in the world.

"Individuals bearing witness cannot do the work of social movements, but they can break a corrosive and demoralizing silence." ~ Ellen Willis

While I won't defeat white supremacy, misogyny, et al, on my own, bearing witness is my way of being part of the solution. I'm grateful to be in a position where I can see a different side of this and other issues, and present it through my camera and words. I hope this inspires others to see beyond the limited perspectives being offered. The struggle continues.

Take care of each other and be safe.

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Creative Chaos Photography


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