How can we show our love for this community in any other way than protesting, door knocking, and fighting for our families, our neighborhoods, friends, and ourselves? —Alina Shen
Since its founding in 2015 The Chinatown Art Brigade has facilitated a series of community led responses to gentrification and displacement, created in close partnership with the Chinatown Tenants Union, a program of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities.
As a cultural collective of Asian American artists, media makers and activists, our creative process is women-led, community driven and guided by the core belief that fighting against racial and economic inequity must be central to our cultural and art making process.
This past year, we have used the process-based Fellowship from Culture Push to focus on reflection and assessment. We have taken the time to ask ourselves what it means to work collectively. We have questioned the role of artists and galleries as gentrifiers complicit in artwashing our neighborhoods. We have explored what it means to promote arts and culture as a way to support community-led and community-centered campaigns for social justice. Towards this end, we have spent the past 10 months recruiting new members, building relationships with broad based coalitions, actively initiating local and national networks of support, broadening our work to include leadership training and skill-shares in the form of workshops, panels, and public programs; and deepening our relationships with progressive organizations and activists who align with our ideals and our values.
At a time when hyper-development and real-estate investments on a global scale threaten to evict and displace the residents who call Chinatown home, we recognize that gentrification and displacement are not just Chinatown issues. Historic neighborhoods across the country and the world are also at risk, from Boyle Heights in Los Angeles to Treme in New Orleans; from Johannesburg to Havana. Today, more than ever, we see that it is urgent to connect our separate struggles and act in solidarity.
Chinatown/Connex features the work of our new members and highlights our collaborations with a diverse cross section of organizations, collectives, local merchants and cultural partners. Huiying Chan reflects on a year traveling to Chinatowns in eight countries around the world, Diane Wong and Mei Lum record West Coast conversations with organizers from Chinatowns in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver; Alina Shen works with Chinatown youth who map neighborhood sites embedded with memories, Emily Mock challenges us to harness our cultural power to sweep out oppression, the Gòngmíng Collective for Language Justice shifts the power dynamics of language by building community through skill shares, translation, interpretation, and language socials.
These articles return again and again to themes of resiliency--mapping resistance, amplifying the voices of local residents, celebrating creativity and using the power of art and culture to bring artists and communities together to fight for a common cause. As the editors, we are pleased to begin the Lunar New Year with this special issue of Push/Pull. Chinatown/Connex features the great work of our membership and allies; stories from the field that are written with love, fueled by hope and driven by a deep concern for our neighborhood spaces and our shared future.
- Tomie Arai and ManSee Kong, Chinatown Art Brigade
ISSUE Six //
25 february 2018
Alina Shen // Our Narrative Tours
Mei Lum and Diane Wong // Reflections from Our West Coast Chinatown Solidarity Tour
Huiying Bernice Chan // Entering Realities of the Global Chinese Diaspora: My Year Traveling Solo Around the World
Chinatown Art Brigade // James Cohan Action