‘See Us Unite’: The campaign of solidarity against AAPI hate and so much more
While centered on the recent uptick of Asian-American hate crimes, the project launched on May 6 showcases historical instances of solidarity across all races.
On Thursday, May 6, the Asian American Foundation (TAAF) and a coalition of partners including the Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation and the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, launched the See Us Unite cultural campaign.
See Us Unite seeks to accelerate the impact of the work that’s already begun to expand support for the AAPI community.
This multi-platform, nationwide campaign will launch on Friday, May 21 with a live event hosted by Ken Jeong, featuring performances by Saweetie, Jhene Aiko, and Sting, and appearances by Michelle Kwan, Naomi Osaka, Daniel Dae Kim and more.
The star-studded event will stream live on MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, VH1, and more, as well as Facebook Watch.
A lineup has never looked so good!
Join us this Friday, May 21st at 8 p.m. ET/PT on @MTV and @FacebookWatch at 5:15 PT/ 8:15 ET for a special night of advocacy, entertainment, & important conversation about supporting the AAPI community.
Learn more at https://t.co/FWqlX15C0W pic.twitter.com/hIE2DbjoV0
— See Us Unite (@seeusunite) May 17, 2021
With sponsorships from Bank of America, Etsy, Verizon and ViacomCBS, the event will explore the rich history and significant contributions of Asian-Americans and will highlight the lived experiences of Asian-American public figures.
It will also showcase several community organizers building the movement from the ground up, like Amanda Ngoc Nguyen, John C. Yang, and Prof. Karthick Ramakrishnan.
The Executive Producer of the See Us Unite Campaign, founder of Care.com, and TAAF Board member, Sheila Lirio Marcelo spoke on the devastating impact of racism, hatred and violence that the AAPI community has experienced for over a year.
"But anti-Asian hate has had a long history in this country, and to truly shift perceptions on a larger scale, we must come together to take a stand against discrimination, slander and violence in all of its forms, utilizing every platform and tool that we have access to,” Marcelo said.
In response to the rising violence against Asian-Americans, several grassroots-led efforts have emerged to counter the negative stereotypes that paint the community as docile, obedient, and unassertive.
The culture is also now shifting. Asian-Americans are gaining more recognition in Hollywood — we can now see Asian superheroes thanks to Simu Liu — Asian-American women are winning awards for their contributions to the film industry, with Chloe Zhao winning an Oscar, and Filipino singers Saweetie and Olivia Rodrigo are dominating the music scene.
We’re shining a light on the AAPI community – to listen, learn and rise up against hate during AAPI Heritage Month.
Join host @kenjeong along with guests @OliviaMunn, @Saweetie, @JheneAiko, @HenryGolding, and many more this Friday at 8pm ET on MTV for #SeeUsUnite. pic.twitter.com/QgRRwtFQgT
— MTV (@MTV) May 18, 2021
But even deeper than that, the AAPI community is fighting back against oppression, in bigger ways. TAAF and their partners intend to enhance their voices, share their stories and educate society on the history and contributions of their people that remain absent from school curriculums.
To help, TAAF has partnered with Stop AAPI Hate, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) and other AAPI organizations.
Funds raised for the campaign will be directed towards education and awareness-raising efforts, as well as initiatives that seek to strengthen solidarity among diverse communities.
"We stand in solidarity with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, and are committed to the ongoing work to address the challenges of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia in our country," said MacArthur Foundation President John Palfrey. "See Us Unite is a powerful campaign to combat anti-Asian racism and violence and celebrate the breadth of the AAPI culture and experience.”
A sub-project part of the See Us Unite Campaign is known as the May 19th Project, and is a collection of videos celebrating the resilience and power of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders coming together.
May 19th is the shared birthday of Yuri Kochiyama and Malcom X, the unexpected power friendship of two revolutionaries. The first short film in the project highlights their friendship, and how it is an example of the power of solidarity.
Kochiyama’s granddaughter, Akemi, narrates the first half of the video, talking about her grandmother’s activism work, how meeting Malcom X was her “political awakening,” and how the two would send postcards to each other.
MAY 19. Happy birthday to Malcolm X, who would have turned 96, and Yuri Kochiyama, who would have been 100. Watch this video and learn more about their life, friendship and legacy of Black/Asian solidarity at https://t.co/B3Wdxb4yqG #SolidarityIs #SeeUsUnite pic.twitter.com/lXXYzrQKGW
— Angry Asian Man (@angryasianman) May 19, 2021
The second half of the video features artists in Harlem, NYC touching up a mural that celebrates both Kochiyama and Malcom X.
“I think what Yuri and Malcom’s story does in this time is very powerful; it shows a different narrative. I think that’s such an important way to fight racism and stereotypes. There’s so many ways we’re different from each other, there’s so many ways we can connect with each other,” Akemi said.
“We’re building upon the Stop AAPI Hate movement of this past year expanding to a focus on solidarity,” Tajima-Peña said. “We look at it as seeing each other, standing together and acting together — to find solutions for the way forward.”
A new video is set to premiere every day until June 1.
...how Frederick Douglass and Wong Kim Ark's fight for immigrants helped make Asian America today.
And the struggle for the citizenship rights of American Samoans continues.
Check out this video by @junstinson for #AAPIHM at https://t.co/5iMnXkA2RI@seeusunite pic.twitter.com/W0kd8SF4Xd
— Jeff Chang (@zentronix) May 20, 2021
The short films — all one to three minutes — feature groundbreaking moments of activist solidarity throughout American history such as the Delano Grape Strike, which brought farm workers Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cuz, César Chávez and Dolores Huerta together and sparked labor movements around the world.
Other videos focus on artists like Bruce Lee and Sugar Pie DeSanto, as well as racial justice activists like Grace Lee Boggs.
The videos also capture stories of Asian, Latino, Black and white students staging the longest strike in U.S. history, demanding ethnic studies be taught on college campuses.
Moments of the Sikh community joining together with Muslim and Arab Americans to call for racial justice in a post-911 world are also part of the series.
“By the end of the month, we will have seeded the solidarity narrative as a dynamic, expanding narrative that unites Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and their allies to take action for each other and build healthy, vibrant communities,” Chang said.