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NYC Chinatown museum reopens with anti-Asian racism exhibit
A New York City museum dedicated to telling Chinese American history marked its reopening to the public on Wednesday, with an exhibit on Asian Americans and racism that it curated partially through submissions gathered during the pandemic and a surge of anti-Asian bias incidents around the country.
The opening was a long time coming for the Museum of Chinese in America, not only because of the pandemic shutdown of over a year but because of a fire that ravaged though the space where its collection was housed in January 2020. Luckily, most of the collection was salvaged.
Looking back, there was a question of “how were we going to survive, but we kept pivoting,” said Nancy Yao Maasbach, the museum’s president.
That included a lot of virtual programming, including the call for submissions that became part of “Responses: Asian American Voices Resisting the Tides of Racism,” opening to the public on Thursday.
In the exhibition, the outer walls are a running history of sorts, a timeline showcasing the racism and bigotry that’s been turned toward Asian and Asian Americans throughout their generations in the U.S.
They touch on the treatment of the earliest Asian immigrant communities, how stereotypes connecting them and disease have a long history, to more recent issues like the treatment of Middle Eastern and South Asian communities in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The anti-Asian bias of the pandemic is on display, with a timeline including top government officials using anti-Asian slurs as names for the coronavirus and blaming China for its existence.
There’s also a listing of various attacks that had Asian victims, like the shootings at spa businesses in Georgia in March, where six women of Asian descent were among the eight people killed.
In the center of the show are items collected by the museum showing how Asian Americans have tried to push back against bias in the past year, like photographer Mike Keo’s series of images of Asian Americans sharing their identities with the hashtag, #IAMNOTAVIRUS.
Another piece is a collection of yellow whistles, which visitors are encouraged to take. Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang founded the Yellow Whistle Project this year, offering the items as a security measure in case help is needed and making them yellow in a reference to how the color has been weaponized as a xenophobic slur against Asian Americans.
It was important to include both the history and the pandemic-related material, said Herb Tam, curator and director of exhibits at the museum.
- by Associated Press
- by Associated Press