Artists and activists within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are playing a pivotal role in amplifying the voices and concerns of their communities. These efforts redefine the concept of caregiving beyond the traditional scope of providing for individual daily needs, embracing a broader approach that includes cultural, narrative, and community empowerment.
Key Initiatives and Projects
- Pasifika Enriching Arts of Utah (PEAU): Directed by Kalani Tonga-Tukuafu, PEAU focuses on Pacific Islander artists and culture. Their project includes a survey of caregivers, revealing that many caregivers lack formal training and support. PEAU is planning an art exhibit titled “Telling Our Own Stories,” which aims to humanize Pacific Islanders and offer a deeper understanding of their experiences in the diaspora.
- Asian Americans United: Led by Interim Executive Director Neeta Patel, this Philadelphia-based organization focuses on protecting and preserving Chinatown, a cultural treasure and home for many AAPIs. Their work involves battling against commodification and displacement caused by real estate developments, emphasizing the importance of community over commercial interests.
- Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW): Managed by Dianara Rivera, AARW in Boston focuses on issues like housing and immigration. They launched a project titled “A Love Letter to the QC API Community,” which aims to provide healing and power-building narrative spaces, particularly in response to political attacks on queer and trans communities. The project involves local artists and workshops that explore collective care and political activism.
- Southeast Asian Diaspora Project: Jessica Eckerstorfer’s project, based in the Twin Cities, is focused on collecting and preserving stories of joy from elders within the Southeast Asian diaspora. This initiative aims to showcase the humanity of their people, transcending the trauma of war and displacement. The project involves intergenerational collaboration, where younger family members help collect stories from elders, bridging language and experiential gaps. The resulting collection, “Planting Seeds: Knowing Our Joy,” will be available at a book launch event, featuring stories in both English and heritage languages, complemented by illustrations from emerging artists.
Impact and Importance
These initiatives demonstrate a significant shift in the definition and practice of caregiving within the AAPI communities. By focusing on cultural preservation, narrative change, and community empowerment, these organizations are ensuring that the diverse and rich stories of AAPI individuals are heard, understood, and valued. Their efforts contribute to a more inclusive and equitable society, where the voices of marginalized groups are amplified and their cultural identities are celebrated.