COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma: Marlon

Witnessing the ignorance and blatant racism the Asian American communities and African American communities have experienced during this time has been unbearable. It’s time for everyone to bring an end to racism. I hope that during this time of slow down, a new normal can emerge where we see each other as whole, beautiful humans, not just our skin colors.

MARLON BROWN

After weeks of insisting people didn’t need to wear masks (and scoffing at mask-wearing by Asian cultures) health officials changed their tune early April and started advising mask-wearing in the US. Masks, research shows, actually do offer some protection. But for Black folks who constantly face the threat of racial profiling, covering their faces is no simple thing. Right away, reports emerged of Black people being targeted for wearing masks in public, from being escorted out of Walmart to handcuffed by the police. Marlon said friends and family in Detroit, where he’s from, have faced aggression for wearing black cloth face masks (the CDC recommends cloth face coverings). Marlon has one of the black masks too. He said he feels okay wearing it in Seattle but would not wear it back home. If mask-wearing becomes our new normal, there is real danger of continued racial incidents as virus restrictions are lifted and more people go back outside. That’s why normalizing images of people of color wearing masks now is critical. You can help by sharing. Thank you.

I am human
I am resilient
I am a survivor

I am listening
I am not finished yet!

Marlon

Pictured: Marlon Brown is an equity consultant who specializes in leadership coaching, change agent mentoring, and organizational development, with an emphasis on facilitation, training, racial caucusing, policy development and implementation. Marlon also has over 20 years of professional experience working in healthcare, automotive and government organizations as an Information Technology Project Manager. 

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COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma: Monyee

It’s terrifying to be Chinese in Chinatown right now. Do you realize how backwards that statement is? Considering that Chinatowns were built historically as a safe haven from the racism and yellow peril we have and continue to experience. I feel scared for the aunties and uncles, for those who cannot speak for themselves, for those who are being harassed. Ultimately, I fear for our community but I hope that this experience also brings awareness to the Asian community to build solidarity with Black and Brown communities and what they already experience every single day.

MONYEE CHAU

This week, white supremacist group Patriot Front stickered hate messages across Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. The stickers, put up by three local white nationalists, said things like “Not Stolen, Conquered,” “Reclaim America,” “Better Dead Than Red.” The men wore dark sunglasses and masks and did their hate work in plain view during broad daylight. Thankfully, the stickers were removed right away by community members. But anti-Asian racism and harassment keeps rising. Also, this week, Trump and some of his officials continued to float the unproven conspiracy theory that the new coronavirus was created by a Chinese lab and released on the world. This theory is NOT supported by science and has been overwhelmingly rejected by experts. When our President insists the conspiracy might be true anyway, it encourages ongoing hate and blame towards AAPIs (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders). You can help stop this. Please share. Thank you.

I am a child of immigrants
I am a storyteller
I am my ancestors
I am Asian American

Monyee

Pictured: Monyee Chau (b. 1996) is a Taiwanese/Cantonese American artist residing in Seattle, Washington. They received a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts, and explores the ideas of decolonization and ancestral healing through labor in multiple processes of art. She is passionate about redefining the experience of being a second generation immigrant in America, and building community through shared food and storytelling. 

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COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma: Jenna and Lena

I cried before almost every prenatal appointment over the last 10 months…I didn’t want carrying a child in a Black body to be a death sentence for me as it has been for so many Black mothers in this country…Black bodies including Black women have historically had to question for profit hospital systems, part of the racist/capitalist American fabric that never opened its arms as a place of healing for Black and Brown families. While there are many highly capable and loving individuals who work in hospitals, many of who are risking their lives…we must still critique the larger framework. These are places that weren’t safe [for Black bodies] to begin with. So, how can we expect them to possibly be prepared to take care of the masses equitably during a pandemic?

JENNA HANCHARD

How do we safeguard Black mothers and children during a time of pandemic? One of many critical questions that must be asked as Black people suffer and die disproportionately from COVID-19. Today is the last day of Black Maternal Health Week. Founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance#BMHW works to deepen the conversation about Black maternal health in the US; amplify community-driven policy, research, and care solutions; center the voices of Black Mamas, women, families, and stakeholders; provide a national platform for Black-led efforts on reproductive justice; and enhance community organizing on Black maternal health. You can help. Please share. Thank you.

We are love
We are power
We are abundant

Jenna and Lena

Pictured: Jenna is a lifelong community storyteller, truth seeker and equity advocate who has spent her career centering and amplifying diverse voices. She spent the last decade of her career working as a broadcast journalist in New York, Kansas City, Missouri and most recently Seattle. Currently, Jenna is the leader of Culture & Innovation at The Riveter. She gave birth to her first baby, Lena, at a freestanding birth center on International Women’s Day (March 8).

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COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma: Reagan

The coronavirus is no “great equalizer.”

CAMARA JONES
(interviewed by Edwin Rios for Mother Jones)

In NYC, Black and Latinx residents are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites. In Louisiana, 70 percent of those who have died are Black. In Chicago and Mississippi more than 70 percent of fatalities are African American. The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. But racism does. BIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color) are especially vulnerable to COVID-19–and the least protected from it–because of centuries of structural and institutional inequity. BIPOC, for example, are less likely to be insured, get quality healthcare, or even a coronavirus test. But BIPOC are more likely to be on the frontlines as low-wage essential workers, to live in crowded metropolitan areas, and, because of discrimination, have pre-existing health conditions. Preliminary numbers are starting to show gross and horrifying coronavirus disparities. However the true scope of the disparities remains unknown as many cities and states drag their heels collecting racial/ethnic data. Washington State had the first known US case of COVID-19 back in January but didn’t release any racial demographic data until April 10. Unacceptable. With our leadership so slow to respond, it’s up to us to keep our eyes wide open and call it where we see it. You can help. Please share if you can. Thank you.

I am a strong black woman, but I’m not invincible.
Racism is the pre-existing condition that has made me most vulnerable.
White fear is not now and has never been my priority.
I will do what I need to do to ensure my personal safety.
I am a human being.

Reagan

Pictured: Reagan Jackson is a multi-genre writer, artist, activist, and international educator with an abiding love of justice, spirituality, and creating community. She is an award-winning journalist who contributes regularly to the Seattle Globalist, South Seattle Emerald, and other local publications. She has written two children’s books and three collections of poetry. Reagan is Program Director at Y-WE (Young Women Empowered) and also co-host of the podcast Deep End Friends which explores race and political issues through the lens of artistic expression and honest conversation. In these photos, Reagan is wearing a mask made for her by Candace Chin, a 70-year-old Chinese woman who has been self-quarantined since March 10. Candace is one of the unsung founders of Y-WE and a seamstress currently making masks and surgical gowns while quarantined.

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Seattle Street Artist Uplifts Columbia City With Feminist Installation, “That’s What She Said 206”


There is an anonymous street artist in my neighborhood who put up 31 portraits of fabulous women for every day of Women’s History Month (March). It was tons of fun trying to find the art, talking to the artist on the phone, and writing about the installation for the South Seattle Emerald. Aaaaand the artist didn’t tell me their name or pronouns, so their ID remains anonymous. Love it! We need uplift and escape like this so much right now. Grateful for artists.

COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma: Evelyn

AAPIs (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) are continuing to experience hate and blame for the COVID-19 outbreak. The Surgeon General recently referred to the outbreak as a “Pearl Harbor moment” (also “9/11 moment” invoking Islamophobic rhetoric) and President Trump’s new xenophobic ad wrongly implies former Washington State governor, Gary Locke, is a Chinese National to whom Biden defers. Locke is actually a Chinese American who was born and raised in Seattle. When our leaders propagate this type of anti-Asian messaging and imagery, the consequences are immediate and severe. The nonprofit group Stop AAPI Hate has now logged over 1,100 incidents of coronavirus discrimination against AAPIs. You can help by reading and sharing. Thank you.

I am a strategist.
I am an organizer.
I am a neighbor.
I am Taiwanese-American.

Evelyn

Pictured: Evelyn is a Taiwanese-American, born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i and currently residing on lands of the Duwamish people in Seattle, WA. They are a gadfly at heart, ready to bring people to action.

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Expanding My Anti-Hate Portrait Campaign


“I’m a Black man living in this world. I want to stay alive, but I also want to stay alive.”

Aaron Thomas, Why I Don’t Feel Safe Wearing A Mask 

A couple days ago I started rolling out my portrait campaign COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma to help raise awareness around the increased racism AAPIs are facing during COVID-19. But AAPIs are not the only people of color facing increased racism for covering their faces as the CDC recommends. Black people are also facing increased racism and aggression for wearing masks, bandannas, and other coverings in public (see Aaron Thomas’s great piece above). Meanwhile, because of anti-black and oppressive systems already in place in the US for hundreds of years, Black people (and Latinx, Indigenous people, people experiencing poverty and/or homelessness, and people living with disabilities) are now disproportionately losing their lives to COVID-19. It is all part of the SAME white supremacist structure. And so, I’ve decided it’s critical to expand my campaign to include Black experiences around mask-wearing and safety during this pandemic. Thank you to my friends, the Felders, for being the first to share their images and words. Please share if you can.

We are love
We are grace
We are calm
We are strength
We are family

Donte, Bayje, Tanisha

Pictured: Donte is a longtime educator and award-winning playwright, screenwriter, director, and producer. He is a community leader and organizer who brings students and community together through media arts, storytelling, and social justice learning. He taught with Seattle Public Schools for over two decades and is currently turning his student program South End Stories into a city-and-countywide nonprofit. Tanisha is the Director of Equity and Family Engagement in the Shoreline School District. An educator in the Seattle Public Schools for 16 years, Dr. Brandon-Felder specializes in race and equity, culturally responsive practices and, primarily the achievement and opportunity gap occurring with Black and Brown students. Bayje is a 12yo student who is passionate about singing, acting, dancing, and sports. She loves her family and friends and has three mottos: (1) Be yourself because everyone else is taken, (2) Live life to the fullest, and (3) If you don’t feel it, don’t do it.

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Photojournal: Seattle Community Kitchen Collective

After Gov. Inslee closes or restricts all restaurants and cafes, some eateries transform themselves into community kitchens to offer free food to those in need, no questions asked. In South Seattle, a grassroots POC-led group of restaurant owners and chefs band together to feed the South End. They call themselves the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective. The Collective includes MusangFeed The PeopleThat Brown Girl CooksXpat Supper Club, and Guerilla Pizza Kitchen. It also has close ties with Hood Famous Bakeshop and Sugar Hill. Shot for the South Seattle Emerald.

Chef Melissa Miranda brings out free meals to a community member waiting curbside. Her Filipino restaurant, Musang, was the first to turn into a community kitchen.
Clockwise left to right: Melissa Miranda (Musang owner), Jonnah Ayala, Cameron Hanin (Guerrilla Kitchen), Sheena Eliz, and Jason Stratton
Chef Tarik Abdullah of Feed the People jokes as he gives free meals to a mother and child waiting curbside.

Awarded a Facebook Journalism Grant to Cover COVID-19!

So excited to share I’ve been awarded a $5,000 freelancer grant by the Facebook COVID-19 Journalism Project to support my coronavirus coverage of marginalized peoples and communities in South Seattle and beyond!!! 5k might be small stuff to some, but it’s HUGE for me. I’m not a staff writer or photographer and I lost almost all other contracts when the US outbreak began. So my income dropped dramatically. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to generate much media during this time which deeply saddened me. With this award, I’ll be able to continue my work not only through the pandemic but also, importantly, during its fallout. Many funders won’t take risks on an independent WOC storyteller with a radical lens (can’t even tell you how many grants I’ve been turned down for). MUCH gratitude to the Facebook Journalism Project, Local Media Association, and Lenfest Institute for Journalism for this award and for investing in local WOC freelancers. And big thanks to Marcus Green and the South Seattle Emerald for encouraging me to apply when I didn’t think I stood a chance.

My New Anti-Hate Portrait Campaign

As COVID-19 has spread across the US and world, so have incidents of racial violence and hate. This has included a surge in racism against Asians and Pacific Islanders who–because the outbreak began in China–are being wrongly blamed for the coronavirus and disease it causes (viruses don’t have a race and don’t discriminate). As a Taiwanese Chinese American, it is very important to me to stand with my community during this time. COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma is my new portrait campaign to help raise awareness about rising discrimination against AAPIs (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders), de-stigmatize AAPIs wearing masks, and prioritize safety overall by the public. Each post will feature different AAPI portraits and humanizing words, along with news, updates, and announcements. You can help by reading and sharing!

We are on occupied Duwamish land
We are Taiwanese and Khmer-Chinese
We are community members
We are engaged

Yin and Rachtha

Pictured: Yin and Rachtha. Yin 英, is community organizer and protestor of gentrifiers in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. She is an immigrant from Taipei, Taiwan and grew up where the Treaty of Point Elliott was signed at Buk-wil-tee-wh (Mukilteo) of Snohomish people. Rachtha is an unofficial International District Ambassador and finder of lost children; of the Order of the Hero of the Wing Luke and the White Center Danhs. Face kicker. Gold leader. Helper.

Announcement: An Asian American family, including a 2yo and 6yo, were recently stabbed in Texas and the new website Stop AAPI Hate registered 1,000 incidents in less than two weeks. Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus have partnered to offer free Bystander Intervention Trainings to Stop Anti-Asian/American and Xenophobic Harassment on April 7, 8, and 9. Register here https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/

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