Let The Fever Break

Published: June 1, 2020 at 3:24 PM

The world is on fire, forcing us all to negotiate between public health and social justice. I believe the manifestations of the city of Philadelphia this week are but a symptom of the fire; the fever breaking. Let the fever break.

I have never felt more power or futility with words than in this week. In a world that demands action, words all seem to slow the action to a halt. Dollars might be better. Action, better still. We are working on all of that.

Despite my frustration with “statements” and “resolutions,” I admit to still aiming for an unimpeachable comment, an intervention; it frustrates me that it needs to be in perfect articulate English. The language with which I process my reality, is itself, colonizing.

But what I want to say needs to be heard by those who will value the articulation of it. Let us be clear: the dignity of Asian Americans, for which we fight, will never be at odds with the fight for the dignity and humanity of Black people. All of the obstacles to our collective and complete humanity, must be torn asunder. We do not condone anti-Blackness in any context, least of all
in our own Asian communities, and further less is our tolerance of Asian people in ranks of power still subscribing to white supremacist ideology.

It’s June. It’ll be the 19th before we know it. In a pseudo-normal calendar, we would be promoting the opening of a public exhibition curated by longtime AAI partner, community activist and artist Catzie Villayphonh, on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the (legal) end of the American war campaigns in Vietnam and environs.

There is no need for the line from historical American imperialism to the carceral state to be straight, but it is a line, and I want to honor the power of that fuse, and the fever it can ignite. I feel both rich and starved for resources because I can only think in increments of “art” and “public programs” today but Catzie has recorded beautiful introductory statements for this show.
I want to make sure all of you can enjoy the dirge-like beauty of trauma re-organized as a memory. The show goes live on Friday at our new website. In the following introduction, Catzie captures dumbstruck frustration perfectly. Despite my verbose newsletter, I concur with Catzie:


Please know that we are here for you, and today, we especially want to recognize the labor of our Black peers. And with that, I want to offer Asian Arts Initiative as a resource to assume any mantle in support of the collective, complete, courageous and extraordinary humanity of all Black people. For everyone else, I hope you are all finding your place in The Work, and trust you have found groups and individuals you can support. I want to call particular attention to the many beautiful community-based arts organizations in the city we’ve had the privilege of working with, who deserve your support now more than ever. Let us know what we can do for you. I will continue to make sure we work with our peers to make the words count.

African American Museum of Philadelphia

Art Sanctuary


Black Pearl

Mill Creek Community Partnership

Power Street Theater

Village of Arts and Humanities

Youth Arts and Self-Empowerment Project