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New ‘AAP(I Belong)’ Exhibit Shares Powerful Stories & Words Of Encouragement From Community

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

New ‘AAP(I Belong)’ Exhibit Shares Powerful Stories & Words Of Encouragement From Community

Earlier this year, 65-year-old Filipino-American Vilma Kari was attacked in broad daylight in Midtown, a heartbreaking instance of the rise in anti-Asian violence across NYC and the entire country.

Still, Vilma and her daughter Elizabeth were met with an outpouring of love and support from community members after the attack, from private messages and prayers to people sharing their own fears and experiences, all making them feel less alone.

“Kind words from strangers have filled the void where anger and sadness would normally prevail,” Elizabeth writes on the page of their new creation AAP(I Belong), which collects stories & words of encouragement from those who have encountered anti-Asian hatred. “This inspired me to help create a platform where we can all share our own individual recollections – to show solidarity, strength, and provide light to show – that you and I belong here in America.”

Richard Tam

And now, for Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May), those expressions will be visible in person at the Museum of Chinese in America/MOCA’s Cultural Programs Center.

MyOwnStory: AAP(I Belong) will be showcased at the Museum at 147 Lafayette St. (between Grand St. and Howard St.) from Wednesday, May 19 through Saturday, May 22 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Liz and Vilma wanted to “shed the stigma of being a target of hate and encourage others through personal experience” by having members and allies of the AAPI community can share their own emotions, feelings, memories, recollections, thoughts, stories, and words (anonymously and confidentially).

Richard Tam

After the attack, many New Yorkers also joined together to donate to the Kari’s GoFundMe. The duo is using some of those donations to give back to organizations that support the AAPI community, from youth to women who have experiences violence/abuse, to the elderly. These include but are not limited to:

  • APEX for Youth:  Delivering possibilities to underserved Asian and immigrant youth from low-income families in NYC.
  • Circa Pintig: Development and popularization of community arts aesthetic and pedagogy that speak of the immigrant experience within the changing multicultural landscape of America. Celebrate the histories and artistic legacies of America’s diverse cultural terrain through participatory art creation.
  • Asians Fighting Injustice is a non-profit organization dedicated to uniting the Asian / AAPI community in fighting against systemic injustice & hate.
  • Unified Caring Organization: Love For Our Elders.org – “A nonprofit that believes no one should feel alone. We fight isolation in senior communities through handwritten letters, videos, and stories.

Stop by this weekend, and/or share your own story here.

featured image source: Richard Tam

See also: 5 Ways To Support The #StopAsianHate Movement In NYC

Culture