A Statement from Grantmakers in the Arts on the violence against Asian American communities

We at Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) must express our grief at the loss of 18 innocent lives and injuring 10 others in the shootings at Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay this January. It is especially devastating as Lunar New Year celebrations are a time for joy and family, culture and community.

This violence against the Asian American community – which has been a strategic practice from before the Chinese Exclusion Act and which has seen a horrific rise throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – is a literal example of the reason that GIA advocates for racial justice in arts funding – to support the expression and full humanity of Asian people who have been dehumanized, in ways both subtle and direct, by our public and private institutions throughout our country’s history, and still to this day.

“No race or ethnic group has a monopoly on violence. No group is immune to our society’s obsession and love affair with guns. No group is exempt from mental health challenges or despair,” said Naomi Ishisaka for the Seattle Times. “We are struggling with this complexity in the Tyre Nichols killing as well, with some having trouble understanding how Black cops could beat another Black man so brutally.”

Creativity and cultural expression by Black and Indigenous people, and people of color, has long explored different ways of truth-telling and valuing each other, our environment, our health, our safety, and our humanity, whether it is Mel Chin’s bringing attention to how corporate industries poison the water and soil in low-income communities of color, Guadalupe Maravilla’s organizing of mutual aid for low-income residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Artists and activists alike who center cultural and narrative shift create opportunity for us all to envision another, perhaps just, future and the steps we must all take to build it.

Eddie Torres, GIA president & CEO, reminded us of a time when he asked an activist where they felt it most important for advocacy and activism to take place. In response to his question, she said, “The place where you are.” Supporting the creativity and cultural expression of Black people and African, Latine, Arab, Asian, Native American communities is only one of many elements – but an essential element – of racial equity toward the goal of racial justice in our nation.

It is for these reasons that we also stand against any government censorship of school curricula or training in anti-racism, critical race theory, or the transparent sharing of the history of our nation. GIA embraces history, anti-racism, and critical race theory in our work.

Our commitment to action and advocacy is clear. We stand beside Asian and Black communities as they demand justice and action. As this movement grows, we call upon our community and the grantmaking sector to invest in movements led by these communities, and community-identified/-led solutions that will support healing, restitution, and a just future.

We call upon the wisdom of Dr. Maya Angelou today as a guide for directing our actions in response to our emotions, “So, use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”

A sense of community and belonging is a right, not a privilege. To our membership, our peers, our field – we stand by you as we continue the fight against racism, violence, state-supported police brutality, and cultural-suppression in our country.

Learn more about how to support the AAPI community at the East Bay Community Foundation.