Some points of reference from a pandemic-stricken NYC.
News is coming out faster than I can process. Here are some articles, podcasts, and other references on my mind lately.
Someone close to me was spit at, in a Sinophobic, coronavirus-fear-fueled incident, last weekend in Manhattan. The next day, I read this:
“Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety” by Sabrina Tavernise and Richard A. Oppel Jr. (NY Times, March 23, 2020).
It is disheartening beyond words. There are so many things to be upset about:
- As if a global pandemic wasn’t enough bad news, humans turn against each other.
- The flattening dehumanization of racism—the racist doesn’t care if you’re Chinese or any other Asian nationality, whether your family has been here in the US for generations, whether you are actively serving society as a doctor fighting coronavirus, or whether you work in a community organization around belonging.
- This is happening even in liberal bastions like San Francisco Bay Area and NYC, with large Asian and Asian American communities.
- Attackers are weaponizing the very thing we’re all terrified of right now—aerosolized or projected bodily fluids—in a perverse act. Paradoxically, the racists could be asymptomatic carriers spreading coronavirus to those who they claim to be guilty of spreading disease.
- When the attackers are other POC or immigrants, the rift in racial solidarity can feel especially hurtful.
- Scared Chinese families resorting to arming themselves—aided by loose gun laws and fear mongering, and possibly under-educated about handgun safety, self-defense legal and moral issues, and systemic analyses.
- Bystanders did nothing.
The dearth of leadership from the White House
A corresponding disaster compounding all of this. I really feel for the nurses and doctors who have to salvage a mess that could have been managed better.
What to do about rising Sinophobia
- Report anti-Asian incidents at standagainsthatred.org and caasf.org.
- Some of us have racists/xenophobes in our families. We have to pick our battles, but consider that these attackers probably have family members who might have pre-empted these attacks with reason, empathy, and gentle disputation.
- Asians and Asian Americans need to show up for other immigrants and POCs, not just our own self-interests. We can’t expect racial solidarity when we don’t show it.
Learn from the Center for Anti-Violence Education.
- Sign up for “Bystander Intervention Training: Responding to COVID-19 Scapegoating and Hate” this coming Monday and Tuesday. Check the Center’s website for more online classes.
- See their tips, especially the third image on what to do if you see someone being attacked or harassed.
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Fear of getting sick is not an excuse for xenophobia, racism, or hatred. CAE hosts free monthly Upstander workshops to discuss strategies to combat hate, and can come to your community upon request! Let’s work together to make our world a safer place for everyone! . . . #CAE #centerforantiviolenceeducation #coronavirus #covid19 #againsthate #xenophobia #racism
Proactive politicians & arts institutions
Not waiting for leaders to lead
In contrast to the White House, S.F. Bay Area and NY politicians have been more proactive in restricting movement.
Arts institutions have also been more assertive, closing museums and studio programs before reluctant, slow-moving bureaucrats call for such closures.
I’m grateful to be allied with arts institutions who have taken leadership when leadership was lacking.
I’m also glad to see institutions heeding the call from artist-activists to donate gloves and masks to local hospitals, just as MAD Museum did last week.
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A huge THANK YOU to our Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Operations @hendrikgerrits and team for leading the charge to collect all of the Museum’s masks and gloves to donate to the Montefiore Medical Center (@montefiorehealthsystem ), in order to provide our city’s healthcare workers with the #PPE that they need to continue their lifesaving work. #Repost @hendrikgerrits with @make_repost ・・・ Our team at MAD Museum is donating all of our masks and gloves to Montefiore Medical Center to help protect our city’s healthcare workers who are putting everything on the line to take care of us. Thanks for the inspiration/suggestion @tin20000 Thanks for coordinating @shabdshabd #stayathome #madmuseum #strongertogether
If you have PPE to donate, or need donations of PPE, visit GetUsPPE.org. It’s the combined efforts of several grassroots, DIY acts, such as Mask Crusaders.)
New Podcast: Staying In with Emily & Kumail
Humor, relatability, psychology
A new podcast by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, with proceeds benefitting those affected by COVID. You may know Kumail from Silicon Valley or his woke tweets.
What I love about the first episode is listening to a funny couple that loves to be funny together. I also really related to some of their personal story. (You never know who is immuno-compromised, and how much this impacts the caregiver.) And finally, Emily’s advice is grounded in her background as a therapist.
Free Face Mask Patterns
I’m offering them for free to front liners, essential needs workers, seniors, people with compromised immune systems, people with underlying health conditions, or their caregivers. I’ve been sending them directly by mail.
Next week, I’ll donate 20 to emergency food pantry workers at Make The Road NY, an immigrant-rights organization.
I figure that something is better than nothing, and the less masks consumers use (and the more we can launder and re-use masks), the more masks will be preserved for doctors and nurses.
I’m using materials I already have, rather than order online, in order to preserve supplies. I’ve been using yardage leftover from home sewing projects, as well as past art projects. It’s been satisfying to re-purpose things that I made with positive intentions around happiness or human flourishing into something that might help people in tangible ways now.
If you’re interested in making masks, check out artist Stephanie Syjuco’s findings from prototyping various mask options. She’s using a modified “Deaconess” pattern, as her aim is for volume.
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For those interested in sewing masks: I tested out three designs that are currently circulating and here are my findings. The “Deaconess” design does seem the best for mass production and quick use while other designs could be better for personal fit and customization. I also posted this as publicly viewable on my Facebook page if you want the direct links to the patterns. Please note that these are NOT a medical alternative to proper PPE (personal protection equipment), and these are “last resort” items that can be considered due to lack of supply. I’ll be moving forward with producing “The Deaconess” model in quantity (with minor modifications) at home while under shelter-in-place, because it seems like we have reached the point where they are needed by others… Good luck out there, everyone! 👉🏽👉🏽👉🏽 PS: link in bio to crowd-sourced Google doc of hospitals and medical centers across the country seeking mask and PPE donations. Before seeking to donate home-made masks, please find out first if they will take them! 👈🏽👈🏽👈🏽
Here’s a nice article about this grassroots movement: “A Sewing Army, Making Masks for America,” by David Enrich, Rachel Abrams and Steven Kurutz (NY Times, March 25, 2020).