APEX Express

APEX Express – 1.20.22 Stop AAPI Hate – Artists Respond

Portrait of Corky Lee by artist Siyan Wong/photo by Victor Huey, Tiff Lin personal photo


A weekly magazine-style radio show featuring the voices and stories of Asians and Pacific Islanders from all corners of our community. The show is produced by a collective of media makers, deejays, and activists.

Tonight Apex Express host Miko Lee focuses on Stop Asian Hate and how Artists Respond. We interview playwright Lionelle Hamanaka and hear her play Covid Crime. Then we speak with photojournalist Karen Zhao about activist Corky Lee. Lastly we get to hear Unapologetically Asian by Tiff Lin.

Stop Hate Transcript

[00:00:00] Opening: Asian Pacific expression unity and cultural coverage, music and calendar revisions influences Asian Pacific Islander. It’s time to get on board. The Apex Express. Good evening. You’re tuned in to Apex Express.

[00:00:18] Jalena Keane-Lee: We’re bringing you an Asian American Pacific Islander view from the Bay and around the world. We are your hosts, Miko Lee and Jalena Keane-lee the powerleegirls, a mother daughter

[00:00:28] Miko Lee: Tonight, we’re going to air award-winning playwright, Lionel Hamanaka her latest work COVID crime, which performed in Manhattan. We’re lying our lives. The play is focused on an Asian women, assaulted on a bus in New York city, and we get the lovely opportunity of talking with the playwright before hearing the play itself. Welcome Lionelle Hamanaka to Apex Express.

[00:00:51] Lionelle Hamanaka: Hey, how’s it going there?

[00:00:53] Miko Lee: Good. Can you talk to us about what inspired you to write your play COVID crime?

[00:00:58] Lionelle Hamanaka: Like everybody else, I was appalled by the kind of vicious and sadistic attacks made against Asian Americans across the country. It seemed every day there was a new incident. At that point ex president Trump had been making derogatory statements against Chinese Americans, how they had brought the flu from China . It was amazing to see the wildfire of racial hatred and bigotry that ensued. If you’re an artist, whatever your art form is, it’s your natural language, like very often musicians instead of speaking we’ll say something like, I dunno if that came clear, but that was like a whistle of admiration.

The natural response on my part was to write a play to try to humanize the situation because there’s a great deal of segregation in New York city and throughout the country, people don’t necessarily understand how you feel if you’re from a different ethnic group or background. So I thought provide some kind of insight into that, it would be useful to have a play about it.

[00:02:06] Miko Lee: I understand it initially started as something for your neighbors. Is that right?

[00:02:10] Lionelle Hamanaka: I lived on the upper west side it’s more than 10% Asian American and it’s 69% Caucasian of different backgrounds, there’s a lot of Jewish people. There’s many people from different countries in Europe and there’s a 15% Latino and 18,000 people from Haiti, so it’s a big mixed bag. If you live in a neighborhood that’s everybody comes from the same background you more or less are on the same page to a certain extent. The purpose of my community theater company, crossways theater is to look at things from other people’s point of view and to providing intersection for understanding. Very often the arts aluminate the soul, the universal soul of humankind.

[00:03:03] Miko Lee: So the play has mostly fictional characters. What made you decide to include a real life activist, Corky Lee in the play?

[00:03:11] Lionelle Hamanaka: To tell you the truth, I missed Corky as a person and you don’t get that many people in life to look up to. I started working with Corky in the late 1990s. I was journalist at one point and we used to do stories together, he would take the photographs and I would write the article. I would see him in Chinatown at demonstrations. I admired his work. We covered stories like the annual Day of remembrance for Japanese Americans, survivors of the camps memorializing, their families experiences. He was always there. During the pandemic, I noticed that he was always in Chinatown trying to, protect people. I always admired him and he was an incredible worker. He would cover three events. At one point, he was working full-time in a printer shop also. He had a day job. So I miss Corky and I wanted to just have a remembrance of him.

[00:04:07] Miko Lee: Thank you. Can you tell our audience what you want them to walk away with after hearing your play COVID crime?

[00:04:14] Lionelle Hamanaka: I hope people want to do something to make the world a better place and to end racism. COVID crime is a tiny contribution to that. If it makes people a little happier that there were people who stood up and fought back and got together, then that’s, you can’t ask for more than that.

[00:04:35] Miko Lee: Great. Thank you so much for chatting with us, and we look forward to hearing your play.

[00:04:41] Lionelle Hamanaka: Thank you.

crossways theater presents COVID crime. Uh, play inspired by the 8,000 national assaults against Asian-Americans focuses on one assault against an elderly lady in new York’s Chinatown as part of the ongoing story. Of Asian-American pursuit for recognition, equality, and justice, many assailants blame victims for the quote, China flu and boat described by ex president Trump.

It’s just me. Ma you sleeping? No, uh, just work the devil. What’s that? What happened? Well, man hit me with umbrella. Where on a bus. She say I bring Chinese virus to New York. Now everybody died. My, I have to take your temperature. Okay. Yeah. This kind of thermometer. I just hold it next to your forehead. Hold still stupid ignorant people.

Just one more thing. Okay. Could you set up. I have to check in lungs. Okay. Just read. Normally

I have to listen to your back. Just a couple of deep breaths

sounds okay. You can breathe. Yeah. Very good. So far you have a headache? No. How about dizzy? No about the blackout you black out at all? No, we better go to the hospital anyway for an x-ray. Sorry about that. Okay. You’ll have to get dressed. No, I want to sleep. Leave me. Hello? I’m one month. Yes, I have a pickup for you.

Female seventy-five transports, ER, 19 month street. No elevator. This is Dr. Leo Chan lie back on the pillow. It should be here within 10 minutes. Sorry about this month.

All right. I’ll let you know when your mother gets out of x-ray. Okay. I’m so sorry. This happened, Leo Corky. Are you doing here? We’ve got a photo shoot nearby. I did three tonight. I heard you were here. Something happened to your mother. She was salted by some woman and I got home. She was conscious, but bleeding from her head.

I brought her here for an x-ray. It’s terrible. There’s so many assaults against Asians. Now instead of national crime wave my husband buried in this. Since the surge and work in doubles, doctors don’t know about anything but medicine. That’s the cliche. Since the pandemic we’ve been attacked about 8,000 times, did we do to deserve that?

Can you think of anyone who deserves it? I think we’re fresh off the boat. My great, great grandpa came to New York in the 1870s. He was running away from Los Angeles. They lynched 18 Chinese. Yes. I know about that. Lynching. It’s a very sad part of our history. So you’re fifth generation that’s right. And it takes me off.

People assume you’re a foreigner because you’re Asian ask the next president Trump, the insider and chief. He started the avalanche by claiming we brought COVID-19 from China. Good thing. Asian Americans rose up to fight back. We even have a bill in Congress. What’s happening with your mother? She’s an x-ray help.

I can take her home tonight. Do you mind if I get a photo of her with the evening news, I know a reporter who might want to do a story on the assault. I can send him the photo and ask, do you like my new camera looks great. How’d you find out about this? I was on my way home going down the subway stairs.

Somebody saw you come in here with your mom and stopped me. He asked, did you know? I don’t know how long it’ll be. Where’s the candy machine. At any, yet, this will hold me for a minute. I’m going to have dinner soon.

When do you sleep? Anyway, then on my feet all day, I got a few meetings to cover tonight in our community. I want APA stories to be in the mainstream media whore mother. Nice lady, because that’s why you’re bearable. I wish I had my mom back. Did you call the police on the woman? Oh, she just came home.

Nobody helped her. Did anybody take a photo on the bus? Oh, Hey wait. Does the MTA have videos on buses? Yeah, I’m pretty sure they do. I’ll go to the precinct tomorrow and ask the community person. Maybe they can get me a video. That would be great. Let me know right away. Okay. Eric Billio want to talk to the radio?

He was waiting for you. Yes. Thanks. Do you think I can take her home? I’ll wait here and catch you later.

I’ll walk you over there. I have to go back to one of the hospital.

Great great grandpa, you on my lap, but darkness


Excuse me, take a cap off

just from me. That’s all I have to worry when I’m at work.

Aging Dr. Jenkins to the ER,

Hey Sergio. I was Italy. I’m not getting enough sleep either. I see COVID particles in the air around me. People show up and they get worse while you admit them fever, cough, shortness of breath, and treated so many, got a sixth sense will die and Vipe recover. You stay strong. Okay. Doctors don’t get sick days.

Gotta go patient chart, please. Here you go. Thanks Mike. Ms. Williams. Good afternoon. Uh, you came in early this morning on your own.

You have a fever of 102. Are you having difficulty breathing? Yes. Can you talk.

If you feel you can’t just shake your head or not. I think they found a bed for you. I have to ask a couple of questions. Do you live alone? Yeah. Any children in the city? If so, are they grown,

grown? We need contact and feel free the next kid. And you’re only 55. Your mother or father is. No one more minute. Sorry for the questions is still we’ll get you upstairs. So

hello. You did great. Good news is still ain’t found a bed. I’m going to listen to your lungs. Okay. And the nurse will get you transported upstairs. I was so scared. We’re in a pre-holiday low or not full up yet. And you work. And I thought that I, I out there in the, and we’re all frightened these days.

We’re going to take good care of you. Nope, I’ll cry. I’m going to listen to your back. Okay? Okay. Thank you. Fight years, Mike, can you have the patient transport it to the floor, admitting about a bed for her. All right. Dr. Lee wanted on extension 1 0 1 only by cubby hole. Lots on. Okay. I’m inset. Thanks for nine.

Uh, you already talked to Dr. Leo chin, right? Get through the priest. And yesterday I started a case for your mother, right? Yes. Thanks so much for stopping by I’m detective home biggest incidents that you’re here on the front lines. I dropped by. Ah, I appreciate that a lot, detective, by any chance, was there a video on the bus?

My mother took that might show her attacker. Yeah, honestly, I’m TA I want to prosecute my mom’s not getting any younger. I can’t work. If I’m worried about her getting them mug, she goes out during the day. She’s not having to stay home type terrible tucking. An old lady is writing these as socially, as pandemic brings out people with mental health.

Believe me. I know we have to deal with it every day. Doctor I’ll do my best to do it. We take care of yourself. Thanks for what you do. So that’s the you detective car.

Hey Dr. Leo Chan the ER. Hi doc. Hey, thanks for coming by. That’s something for you. Is this your mom? Yeah, that’s her, this article was in the new city. The photo by cookie Lee. Here’s another photo screenshot. Definitely NPA group. Yeah. He came out of the hospital that night. So you got a video clip from the MTA to.

Yeah, we got a video to take a look at the yellow point, catches the assailants thinks about recognize the woman from Nancy photo. You do. And she was one of my patients. She came in with COVID last week. She’s better now. That’s some life in New York. Never can tell, wake up on six, pick up on sick. Hello. Hi, I’ll be right there.

I have to see a new patient. No, nobody precinct the coffers. Come the video together. Thanks so much and never know how much I appreciate this. You’re welcome. See you soon.

Well, this place hasn’t changed. It’s kind of empty.

What do you expect? Ex-president makes announcements that COVID came from China. Chinatown’s the last place they’ll go. Hopefully it’ll pick up. Thanks for asking me to lunch. I’ve missed you so much. It’s been so long.

Had a hard day. You seem agitated, agitated. What’s up. Leo. I hate having to tell people because somebody hit my mother with an umbrella. What, when we could go and you didn’t tell me I’m not proud of it. I don’t like that. She’s out there minding her own business on public transportation and some nuts assaults or the I’m supposed to protect her.

Nobody’s blaming you. She had a cut on her forehead. I took her in for an x-ray. That’s terrible. Just out of nowhere. No concussion. Thank God you won’t believe this on ghost day when mom went to pray at grapple way’s columbarium she burned incense and saw his ghost. You’re a great grandpa. Yeah. You came here in the 1870s in prospect gold.

Then he came to New York, running away from the big Chinese lynching in LA. He and his friends work the way east Corky. Lee has organized a pilgrimage for Chinese Americans for 20 years. Chinese helped build the transcontinental railroad, but we never get credit. What else is there? It’s not in any history books or in photos.

He found that out when he was 12 and it made him so mad that he never forgot. I’m glad he held on. I was studying and never had time to go on his trip. But why do most Americans think we’re all fresh off the boat? The Eurocentric education system, the old timers did a lot of things we never heard about.

They weren’t important enough to write a book about, he didn’t have to write a book about it. How about a paragraph? Speaking of the past, you won’t believe. My mother said, great, great. Grandpa told her, tell your son take good care of her. He doesn’t know. I tried to get her to retire since I graduated, practically went down on my knees and begged her, you know, but mom’s a tough old bird.

This is my dad died of a heart attack. She thinks we won’t have food unless she buys it. I offered to get food for her. She got mad. I said, are you chained to your sewing machine? 14 hour days are no good for your health. She’s a mule. I reported her assault by the way I started a case for, and the detective came in with a photo.

It says he has a video from the bus and I recognize a woman in the photo. Would you believe she’s one of my patients? No, but if you say so she’s an older woman lives alone. Her kids didn’t even call to see how she was doing. The pandemic brings out the best and worst. That’s public hospital. Anybody can walk into the ER, he’s about to be released.

So I’m, uh, riding her out. I can’t hire a babysitter to watch my mom while I’m at work. I’d never hear the end of it. The detective came and I told him. It closed mental health hospitals from 1955 to 94. They shouldn’t have done that. Hundreds of thousands of Americans with severe mental illnesses are on the street.

And our sheriffs here in New York for informing me. I don’t care that she’s a nut. I just wanted to leave my mother-in-law of course, honey, like, God, I don’t know what I do. If someone attacked me. I can’t imagine it. I friend Julia and I are giving self-defense classes to seniors in the neighborhood because at least I’ll have something and now they’re giving out yellow whistles.

Good take on us because they think they’ll get away with, we’ve been keeping our mouth shut too long. I guess this all means you and I will never live together. I’ve been working doubles or six months getting lunch off today was a major event. I can’t leave my mother now. Now I worry about her all the time.

Sorry to bring it up. It was selfish. It’s not that I don’t love you, but love can get you in trouble. Got my dad had trouble because your dad was rich and your mama broke immigrant. That’s a rotten thing to say about your mom. So he got in trouble with his family. He was lucky. He never had to talk to them again.

You must report that woman, a Filipino guy got slashed to the face the other day from ear to ear. None of us is safe. My mother’s an immigrant, but my father’s family goes back to the 1870s, 150 years later, they still treat us like outsiders. It was sad when your father had that heart attack, he was working way too hard.

Grandpa that laundry on Baird street, pre grandpa hung out there after he escaped the lynching. We swallowed a lot of bitterness

and we’re tired of it. I keep telling you about the meetings were happening. I’ll go soon as the pandemic blows over check, please. Don’t be mad at me, man. You can buy a house. You mean it? Why not? Money’s green. We could find something somewhere. I’d have to convince my mom to quit her job though.

And now another victory over COVID-19. Ms. Williams is being district.

I guess

he’s the best. Mike’s a great nurse is famous around here. You have someone picking you up? No, you can’t do stairs like that. Do you live in a walk-up? Yes, I do. Like, we’ll get you an ambulance. Would you order a Stella Williams at ambulance? Yeah. Thanks so much, doctor. I see this photo. You recognize anyone in this photo?

Why that’s me? That woman’s a stranger. I was on the bus when she got in my way, when I was telling you to get off. So you beat her on you on the head with your umbrella.

And they take videos on buses case they get sued in case disputes arise that have to be settled later to watch out for yourself. That’s what they do these days. By the way that woman is my mother. I don’t believe it. Uh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt her. She was bleeding. Scared me. We live in the same apartment, the thing of a doctor, she had a headache.

She told me that the woman said you brought the Chinese virus to New York. Now everybody’s done. Did you say that? I don’t know what I said. I was I’m in my head. I called my kids to help me, but they were working. I was mad. That’s why I hit. But I won’t never do that again. I swear you saved me from that devil disease, but it’s not Chinese viruses.

Don’t have a nationality. I’m sorry. I don’t even know your last name, but you saved my life and I don’t trust that. I wasn’t scared to come to that, ER, but I was burning up with a fever and had chilled and, and that’s why that’s well, that’s how I felt on the bus. I just wanted her to get out of my way. I got this photo from the cops started a case and they’re going to follow up on you.

Excuse me, Mr. Stell brilliance. Yeah, my name is. I give out the Leal photo from the Bronx. That’s the Princeton you have to appear in criminal court on seventh street on this date is yet now I know we had COVID 19, so I made the date came on set. I thought, I’m sorry. Assault is a crime it’s against the law.

So you have to appear in court on this date. Understood.

Alright, got your address and your phone. So if you forget


We’re gathered here today at our beloved Columbus park and Chinatown to continue our protests of anti-Asian hate crimes. Today, we have a mainstay of the community, Corky Lee, to say a few words to us.

We’re here today because of the attacks against Asian Americans. That’s been news independent, and the news is my business. My photo is our proof that we exist, that we do a lot of things. Listen, these are our tragedies, these beatings killings, they set old people’s hair on fire. The only thing we can control is what we do about it.

If you see an anti-Asian hate crime happening, say something or do something by taking a photo or. You don’t have to be a professional photographer for your photo to be proof identification of a criminal evidence in court. America denied us for 175 years. They deny our contribution. So we have to look out for each other, take care of each other.

We belong here. This is our home. Most of us have never known.

And now here’s a doctor who’s worked on the front lines fighting. COVID-19 Dr. Lee.

I live around the corner. The pandemic has made life hard on all of us. This is a can of pepper spray. I bought this pepper spray from my mother. Why do I have to do this? Because criminals are trying to slash. Burn grandmothers at someone beat my mother with an umbrella. That’s why, like most of you I’ve kept my head down, chasing the American dream.

That was a big mistake. My mother, and maybe yours wouldn’t have to be hospitalized today. Tomorrow, whenever our people have a saying swallow bitterness, we’d have to leave that behind it. Won’t work. I hate to quote Rodney Dangerfield, but I want some respect. I wish it was funny. We, Asians are supposed to be the model minority.

That’s a lie they use against us from 2013 to 17 in New York city reports. Asians have been the poorest minority for 80 years. The government excluded agents from immigrating to the U S these lies separately. Asians black Latinos and native Americans are kept apart. It’s called segregation. My great, great grandfather came in the 1870s because in LA they lynched 10% of the Chinese population.

Don’t reruns, please. I’m a doctor and I fight disease, but racism is a disease that people’s minds helped get rid of it. I’ve been working doubles on COVID-19. So if you see an attack on an Asian American called the cops, take a picture yell. I used to be too busy, but politics, but it’s either speak out or any of us is fair game.

So no more suffering in silence.

crossways theater presented COVID pine at which you took apart opposite Lincoln center in New York on Sunday, October 20th. With activist speakers, Shirley and Asian American legal defense and education product, and Jackie wagon. Welcome to Chinatown peace cranes, even out afterwards were returned to groups who promote the struggle against race and for peace Japanese-American United church is actually no.

Women cross DMZ Ryzen exist, Asian American education, and welcome to Chinatown featured actors. John Bernos has Dr. Real chat, Dominique, she as cafe, you know how Manaca has to do an award comes as they leave. R Carter and detective Harvey, how would slags or as Mike voiceover and Beth Griffis as a Estelle Williams COVID crime directed by Howard flats or by radio editor, Jack for further info on tech crunch.

Or crossways theater on these .

[00:33:05] Miko Lee: That was COVID crime by Lionelle Hamanaka. During the play we heard about corky lee and next we get to welcome Karen Zhao and we get to hear a little bit more about photographer photo journalists and activists corky lee. We welcome to apex express. Karen Zhao, a documentary photographer from New York city. Who’s focused on storytelling through photos. Karen, thank you so much for coming on. Apex express.

[00:33:34] Karen Zhao: Thank you so much for having,

[00:33:36] Miko Lee: can you talk about how you came to know the activist Corky?

[00:33:44] Karen Zhao: Oh those that was such a long time ago, I met him at a banquet in Chinatown. At the time he was autographing a book called voices of healing. It was about nine 11. I thought he was the author of the book. I didn’t know that he was a very renowned photographer. He was autographing the book and he was speaking very loud and he was striding out my conversation at my table because he was right behind. So I decided to get up and go find out more about this book which people had been lined up to have monograph. And when it was my turn he explained that, he took the cover of the book of this, a firefighter named Benny hum. Who. Was ad night was down by the world trade center on nine 11.

He was just so passionate about telling me about these stories and he would flip through the pages and it was really very, compelling his photographs and we exchanged business cards. And I remember looking at his card and the title was just so long and it was humorous. The business card that he gave me the title said, “the undisputed unofficial Asian American photographer laureate. I thought that’s really funny because it sounds like he’s in a ring, in a boxing match, it sounds like something Muhammad Ali would come, come up with. But this was uniquely Corky. I knew that he would be really funny too that he had a sense of humor about things. We stayed in touch after that. He would invite, you would invite me to a lot of events. And I have. Similar love for photography. And so I would come and shoot would have been, and we just started hanging out more and more. And our relationship grew from there.

[00:35:59] Miko Lee: So what stood out about him beyond the business card?

[00:36:03] Karen Zhao: He just was a wonderful storyteller and he was so passionate about the Asian American community. And for me, I didn’t grow up in a very Asian community I wasn’t exposed to it. Corky opened my eyes to all these different communities that I didn’t even know about. And I think he did that because he was very much interested in connecting people. He was like someone that United and brought people together. I remember this a filmmaker friend, and when she came from santa Fe Corky, just introduced her to everybody. And before long they started a Japanese group informal group called JAJA. And so I went to JAJA a few times and it was just great. Cause that’s how they started. Realized that there is a Japanese, American community. And it was too Corky that, he says, I have this friend and I have that friend that he just put people together.

[00:37:19] Miko Lee: So he was acting like a connector of people.

[00:37:23] Karen Zhao: Yes. Yes. And he was a storyteller. He was a photo journalist. I think he felt that, there’s not often in mainstream news, it’s stories that are very broad and but he often felt that, the Asian-Americans also have a story to tell and that we’re not invisible and he would go and seek out those stories. I learned a lot from him about, social justice and Equal rights. Those are things that he cared about particularly since he was part of the sub movement Asian American movement in the seventies which kind of fought for these things that were not available for for Asian Americans.

I remember Corky telling me about how he was a community organizer and a tenant advocate. That was one of his very early jobs. And he went to some of the housing complexes and it was pretty deplorable and dilapidated and he wanted to The tenants get better housing conditions. And he borrowed a camera from a friend and and used that to document their living condition. He felt that would be one way to prove to the courts that individuals that are paying rent should not have to live in poor housing conditions. It made me realize that, there’s a calling in life. And I feel like that was his calling. He realized that very early on during the Asian American movement that he had a voice and his voice could be through his photography. It shaped his, who he is the activism of the time really helped him to understand how this type of work can expose justices. So I think as to why he. It’s always at rallies. And you can, you can expect Corky to be there because he wants to make sure that he’s capturing the stories from both sides.

[00:39:42] Miko Lee: He talked a lot about his work being around photographic justice, which I really love that terminology. He did that at a time before there were cell phones that were recording hate crimes and really exposing some of the atrocities that are happening. So you’re just speaking to this idea of photographic justice. I’m wondering how he got involved in movement work in the seventies.

[00:40:04] Karen Zhao: Corky is very outgoing guy. He was active in many things in school as well. I think he helped organize athletic sports activities. He knew a lot of people and I think. Like kids that were growing up at that time. Because of the Vietnam war there was a lot of protests and activism and it just made that generation realize that they have to, speak up for certain rights. Out of that came a group that was very artistically inclined. They created a basement workshop and Corky was, part and parcel of that. He was very engaged in activities helping them with events and certainly documented things. He was also very much involved with Asian Cinevision. He did a lot of work for them and I think it’s just having people that had A collective mindset to want to change the world and want to do something positive. They did it through art. They did it to poetry, to photography do things that they say you could send a message and can speak about who they are. It was also a time where they had to figure out, the term, coined the term Asian American didn’t really come up until much later. That was all happening and it’s a huge part of his life.

[00:41:38] Miko Lee: When you think about his body of photographic work, are there certain photos that come to your mind that make an impression on you?

[00:41:46] Karen Zhao: Yes. I always liked his garment factory worker photos because my mother and my grandmother they were a factory worker. I could relate to that. It’s a rare glimpse into what life was. Since many of the factories are now gone. The stories that he told about the woman taxi cab driver. That photo is of Lily Chow. She’s a woman taxi cab driver and she’s got her shoulders out the window and she’s holding a cup of. Maybe coffee. I would say and she’s in her taxi cab. I liked that a lot because we seldom see that and it’s breaking stereotypes. There are jobs that you tend to think it’s very gender specific, but I think he was able to prove that’s not the case and that, a woman can do various jobs aside from what was available at that time.

[00:42:49] Miko Lee: What you’re describing is, as Corky says, ” I like to think that every time I take my camera out of my bag, it’s like drawing a sword to combat indifference, injustice, and discrimination, and trying to get rid of stereotypes.” So it feels like that taxi photo is the latter trying to break down stereotypes.

[00:43:13] Karen Zhao: Yes. And he’s done this throughout his lifetime. He went find individuals that maybe we all think it’s just ordinary people, but he would see something that’s important and want to document that as a way to tell their story. There’s another photo that I remembered. It’s about the Japanese American boxer the Hama Gucci. She’s got her boxing gloves on and you really don’t see that. Too often in the rain an Asian woman boxer and she’s quite boutique. But she was ready for a fight. And so of Corky photographed her At one of her matches. And I think it helps to dispel like these, these stereotypes.

[00:44:03] Miko Lee: Corky, sadly passed away last January from COVID so sorry to hear about that. I’m wondering if he had a chance to hear the COVID crime play before he passed.

[00:44:16] Karen Zhao: No, he didn’t get a chance to hear the COVID crime play. I think you would have really enjoyed it though. It’s it just all happened so quickly. He just was shipped to a hospital and yeah. It’s I wish that he could be around. I thought that he would be able to tell people about how how he survived. COVID not, now what happened.

[00:44:41] Miko Lee: I’m so sorry. That must feel very fresh and very recent for you. So I’m sorry to have to bring this up. Is there anything else that you want to add about Corky and his legacy?

[00:44:51] Karen Zhao: Corky for more than five decades and his life mission was then, and I believe still now to bring, to light the stories from the Asian-American community he use, to like to say that he wanted to bring the Asian Pacific Americans to document their stories to mainstream consciousness. I think he did just that he he was always there.

[00:45:26] Miko Lee: Thank you, Karen. I really appreciate you.

[00:45:29] Miko Lee: We just heard about legendary activist, Corky Lee, and learned a little bit about his work in the play COVID crimes. And now we’re going to hear from a shape, shifter artists, TIF Lin. I had the pleasure of hearing Tiff’s latest work at the ARU – Asian refugees united fifth anniversary celebration and i was just blown away by their work. TIF is going to share their work, which came through ARU’spowerful wellness, art and leadership program. Take a listen to TIF Lin.

[00:45:58] Tiff Lin: This piece called Unapologetically Asian. And um, if it resonates with you, I love, I love feedback. This is definitely a work in process is my healing and our collective healing is a work in process and I celebrate that I’m sorry for breathing. I’m sorry if my darting eyes make you uncomfortable. That was a sneeze. I don’t have COVID at least I don’t think I do. I’m sorry for breathing. I’m sorry for being near you, passing on your hike darting past starting eyes, avoiding eye contact. I’ve sorry for briefing. I’m sorry. I don’t have the answers for you. I’m sorry. If my existence threatens you, angers you repulses you and sights you into rage. It’s a fine, you look at me as if I am a disease, not disease. I do have a sickness. What is your sickness? What is the root of your pain? Shame, anger, angst, frustration,

parents. I’m sorry for not staying in touch more for creating this things. I want to make you proud, but the truth is I’m still figuring my Swear out and it’s been a hard, really weird pandemic. I’m sorry for my constantly changing needs, desires, identities, and career paths. That new question. I’m sorry, I am queer, but I am who I am. And I love who I love. May you learn to accept this? Sorry for feeling so much for the pain you don’t want to feel, but for the part in me not exist within you to, for the withheld love and words left on spoke yet for this language barrier and how everything is fine until it isn’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t remember my childhood and you in it. You were too busy working and I ask myself, would I rather have a Pete college tuition? Or a present father. And the truth is all I wanted was more than 15 minutes of your undivided attention. I’m sorry. I disappointed you when I quit the family business, but I needed to find my own path and find out who I am. I want I’m really here for outside of filial piety and obligation.

I’m sorry. I can’t stay silent anymore to this Swear beep just because we have financial security doesn’t mean we are protected, sorry for saying swear white supremacy and going off to protests, but our people are being attacked. Brah Stanton beaten to death, and we all have a place in this. I’m sorry for like, I had to hide my life from you. I’m sorry, but I have a story that you’ll never understand what I’m going through. I’m sorry for rocking this boat before what it’s worth. I do want to make this narrative different because I actually don’t want this distance. And I’m sorry if I say I too much instead of us, but the truth is I do care about you. I do, even when I don’t say it enough, so thank you. Thank you for coming all the way to America, two suitcases and hand left them other land, starting over on foreign soil, endless toil to create the conditions for my safety privilege and survival. It’s an honor to be a Linn. And I’m sorry if I was just too scared and too scared the whole, the weight and responsibility of my power and privilege. Thank you for setting the standard for service willpower, determination, strength for me to lean on and grow from. I thank you for holding the high expertise, expectations of your own parents.

While also learning to accept our generational differences. It must’ve been really hard for you to, and you did the best you could with what you knew and I’m proud of you. I hope you are proud of me too. I asked you one last time. What is your sickness? Sorry, for the ways I’m so hard on myself or the self doubt and self deprecation for the years of assimilation whitewashing. So I can fit in throwing my Chinese snacks. They were laying in the cafeteria. To all the relations I’ve shipped I’ve left before it got too deep, because I was too afraid to state my needs all the ways I try to overcompensate and over achieve, tying my worth to productivity my body.

I’m sorry. For the times, I’ve neglected. You ignored, denied to starved and left. You loudy be objectified sexualized in this sublime because that was the only new to, for trying to fit into this mean a box. This toxic myth is we are not enough. I know now it’s not my fault. It’s not your fault. We are not the fault. Shoulders. Sorry for carrying weight. How does no longer my chest? Sorry for holding back. How much I carry inside you. As tied for not letting you out to dance more. When I know it gives me so much joy and lie, what is the pride of your existence? My name is TIFF Linn and I am the proud magic dragon. I’m Taiwanese immigrants. My ancestry comes from China and I am Asian American. I’m learning to love more deeply to break cycles. To dream bigger for my family to honor my ancestors and the lands we call home to feel proud of my voice, my gifts, my truth, my love, my life, my laughter, my joy to honor the beauty of my soul and wisdom of my ancestry to live in these lands and really learn, really, really learn how to be in reciprocity. Thank you. I see you. I love you. And I am you, maybe you remember that within justice equity, healing, liberation lies, forgiveness and acceptance. Who permission your body, your arrival, your participation, you belong, you belong. We belong. Thank you.

[00:57:16] Miko Lee: Thank you so much for joining us tonight. For more information, we’ve posted the transcripts from the interview along with a detailed linked glossary in our show notes

keep resisting, keep organizing, keep creating and sharing your visions with the world because your voices are important. Apex express is produced by Preeti Mangala-Shekar, Miko Lee, Jalena Keane-Lee, the Powerleegirls. Tonight’s show was produced by your hosts. the Powerleegirls Miko Lee and Jalena Keane-Lee thank you to kpfa staff for your support and have a great night.


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