‘I Still Believe In Our City’ – Artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s Public Art Series Takes On Anti-Asian Racism In Brooklyn Subway Station

On Tuesday, New Yorkers commuting through the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway station will find it transformed with vibrant portraits of Black, Asian and Pacific Islander people along with anti-discriminatory messages like “I did not make you sick” and “I am not your scapegoat.”

The series is the work of the neuroscientist turned artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (pronounced PING-bodee-bak-ee-ah). In August, Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya was named a New York City Public Artist in Residence through a program that has partnered artists with city agencies since 2015. She is one of two artists currently embedded with the city’s Commission on Human Rights, which invested $220,000 in this campaign.

Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Still Believe in Our City” series was created as a response to a grim statistic. From February to September, the Commission received more than 566 reports of discrimination, harassment and bias related to Covid-19 — 184 of which were anti-Asian in nature. It’s a troubling spike not just appearing in New York, but in Asian-American communities across the country.

“My goal with this art series was to turn these hurts into something beautiful and powerful,” Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said in a phone interview. She added, “I really wanted to find a way to say, despite everything we have faced as Asian-Americans and New Yorkers, that I still believe in New York.”

From Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, the series of 45 pieces will be displayed in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, a central hub that serves a diverse group of commuting New Yorkers. Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said that it was also the site of a reported, Covid-related bias incident in March, when a 26-year-old Asian-American man reported he was spat on.

A description of that incident has been included in one of the pieces, alongside portraits of Asians and flowers that Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said have symbolic meanings in Chinese and East Asian cultures. Other panels offer information and historical context about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and statistics about Asian-owned businesses.

Source: NY Times

LA County Begins Program to Combat Acts of Hate After Rise of Racism Towards Asian Americans Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

Responding to what officials called increased acts of hate in recent years, most notably against Asian-Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles County on Wednesday announced a campaign aimed at encouraging reporting of such incidents and responding to them.

The “L.A. vs Hate” campaign is a three-pronged effort that will include a marketing outreach campaign encouraging people to report acts of hate, improved resources for residents to report such acts through the county’s 211 hotline and a network of agencies to assist victims and develop prevention strategies.

“L.A. County is one of the most culturally diverse and vibrant communities in the world,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “Despite our diversity, these past few years have seen a steady rise in reported hate acts in our county. We also know that as a result of COVID-19, there has been an ugly backlash toward our Asian-Pacific Islander community. Spikes in calls to the 211 hotline reflect that racism.”

Source: NBC LA

The U Experience, a startup focused on providing university students a traditional college experience with bubble-style resort campus, moves to Boca Raton Florida (Waterstone Resort & Marina) for fall semester after local outrage from Hawaii bubble hotel plans

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Editor’s Note: On August 17, one day after this story was published, The U Experience announced it would host its program at the Waterstone Resort & Marina in Boca Raton, FL.

Last week, two Princeton alumni garnered national attention for plans to create two ‘bubble’ campuses in Hawaiʻi and Arkansas, just as the University announced that all fall instruction would be remote.

After widespread backlash from local Hawaiʻi residents, the alumni’s business idea, titled ‘The U Experience,’ will no longer come to fruition at either property.

Lane Russell ’18 and Adam Bragg ’16 started The U Experience in response to many colleges’ decisions to conduct fully virtual fall semesters. They planned to house about 150 college students, who would take classes online in a ‘bubble’ hotel, where they could “come to live out the college experience with total peace of mind,” according to the company’s website.

On the same day Russell appeared on CNN, a seven-member team of Hawaiʻi residents published a Change.org petition titled “Stop Bringing Nonresident Students to Hawaiʻi During a Pandemic,” which garnered over 11,000 signatures in just three days.

According to Lexi Figueroa, who helped write the petition, the authors also received an outpouring of support from non-residents, including University alumni, who expressed opposition to The U Experience, citing the “selfish, irresponsible, and disrespectful nature of this project.”

“We only have 340 ICU beds to service the entire population of Oʻahu,” the team behind the petition wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “A single outbreak in a The U Experience ‘bubble’ would deplete nearly half of our health resources.” In total, Oʻahu has a population of nearly one million.

On Aug. 11, the U Experience announced that it had suspended plans with Park Shore Waikīkī and Graduate Fayetteville — just four days after the Business Insider feature.

In their Aug. 11 update, The U Experience team maintained, “our goal is to disrupt education, not local communities.”

Source: Business Insider

Asian Americans face dual challenges: Surging unemployment and racism

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A new study from UCLA reports that since the start of the pandemic, 83 percent of the Asian American labor force with high school degrees or lower has filed unemployment insurance claims in California — the state with the highest population of Asian Americans — compared to 37 percent of the rest of the state’s labor force with the same level of education.

At the same time, new research shows that discrimination against Asian Americans is surging. More than 2,300 Asian Americans had reported bias incidents as of July 15, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, or A3PCON, which hosts the self-reporting tool Stop AAPI Hate.

The UCLA report, published last week, examined the impacts of the coronavirus on the Asian American labor force in California. It revealed that disadvantaged Asians working in service industries have been “severely impacted.”

Researcher Paul Ong, who worked on the report, said that beyond pervasive service industry struggles, he believes people are abandoning Asian establishments because of biases.

“This is why racializing COVID-19 as ‘the China virus’ has profound societal repercussions. We have seen this in the increase in verbal and physical attacks on Asians and in material ways in terms of joblessness and business failures,” he said in an interview.

Source: NBC News