Advocating Unity During Covid-19 Through Art
“Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the Covid-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend,”
- Asia advocacy director, John Sifton.
In response to the spread of Covid-19, Asians on a global scale have been targeted to derogatory language not only on social media platforms, where hate speech to Covid-19 appears to have spread extensively, but in media reports and statements by politicians as well. Witnessing this rapid spread of xenophobia, a partnership of Asian-American groups joined together and formed a reporting center in the US named "STOP AAPI HATE" in hopes to shed some light of the problems that are occurring. Received almost 1,500 reports of incidents of racism, hate speech, discrimination, and physical attacks against Asians and Asian-Americans since late April, this demonstrate how vital it is to do something to minimize the hate and prejudice that is spreading as rapidly as the virus itself.
Realizing the enormity of this situation, artists all over the world turned to their craft as a way of healing this conflict. Artists such as Kenneth Tam are able to help make a difference by finding creative ways to spread their own art and other artists’ as well. Kenneth Tam’s Google spreadsheet titled “WE ARE NOT COVID”, catalogues user-submitted narratives of anti-Asian racism which began circulating in the art world across nations, including many stories from Los Angeles’s Koreatown to Queens.
As an artist wanting to contribute in a similar way, I've decided to create my own piece of my take and reaction towards the xenophobia today.
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From this artwork, I wanted to convey the importance of unity right now and how supporting each other regardless of race is the best way for us to get through this pandemic together. Hate and fear are the chains that are restraining us from taking steps forward in solving the real problem: How to stop Covid-19. They distract us, taking our energy to fight against each other, meanwhile Covid-19 is still spreading around us.
After some research, I've decided to incorporate a swallow to send the message I desire. A swallow represents multiple things, a few being hope, love, positively and strength, which is why I've chose to show hands protecting the bird. Now looking at the hands, you can see that although they belong to people of different skin tones, they are gloved by the same color, symbolizing that no matter what race we are, we still get affected by the virus in the same ways.
Therefore, at the end of the day everyone's the same. We are all human beings with thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we forget that and become blinded by the confusion of our world and our fears. But that's another way the virus has control over us, not just physically in our world but mentally in our heads as well. It makes us act differently, treating people differently because of their skin tone. Because of fear.
I hope through this piece I can show people that right now, it is more important than ever to stand together. Let's not let this virus defeat us. Let's fight together to extinguish it.