For The Love Of L.A.
Asian Americans have been the target of racism and xenophobia related to the COVID-19 pandemic in an unprecedented amount of attacks during the last year. Places of worship and even senior citizens have been the victims of hate crimes due to bigotry and misinformation with an irrational focus on fear rather than facts.
On February 26, 2021, Higashi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple (located in Downtown Los Angeles) was vandalized as a result of anti-Asian racism. Being born and raised in L.A., I grew up attending Obon Festivals each year, and fondly remember attending events at this temple which has always extended its’ welcoming, open arms to the community. I have several childhood memories filled with delicious food, laughs and music that buoyed my soul and brought the community together as we honored our ancestors. The attack on Higashi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple hit particularly close to home, to my heart, as I thought about my family, friends and especially my daughter who could potentially be the victim of a hate crime at any moment, which left me feeling a plethora of emotions from fear to anger to helplessness.
In approaching this series, I wanted to highlight some extraordinary Asian-American artists who I have immense respect for and who have inspired me through their innovative use of creativity to bring the community together. The following artists aim to shed light on the Asian-American experience through a lens of social justice, and how we need to move forward in exposing fact not fear, love not hate, and empathy not divisiveness.
Audrey Chan is a Los Angeles-based artist, illustrator and educator who most recently worked with the ACLU of Southern California and Metro L.A. Her piece, “An Illustrated Vocabulary of Tenderness,” is a beautiful series of visual flashcards featuring words that bring awareness to Anti-Asian experiences through specific Asian languages.
Aditya Prakash is an award-winning vocalist known as one of the foremost virtuosos of Carnatic music, the traditional classical style of South India. A Los Angeles native from a family richly immersed in South Indian arts and culture, Aditya has performed with artists such as Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Tigran Hamasyan and Karsh Kale. His piece, “Battlefield,” is a depiction of racism throughout time and the need for allyship in advocating for social equality and justice.
Tylana Renga Enomoto is a Los Angeles native and GRAMMY-award winning musician with over 20 years in the industry and has worked with artists such as Quetzal, Kamasi Washington, Ethiocali, Kendrick Lamar and Lupe Fiasco. Her piece, “Perfect Time,” is a melodious ode that inspires us to strengthen our creative muscles through art and activism.
In addition to learning more about these fantastic artists, I also invite you to check-in with your AAPI friends just to see how we’re doing. Shoot a quick text, make a phone call or send an email. A simple gesture of empathy goes a long way as we support each other as a community. Below are some ways in which you can support an end to AAPI hate:
Stop AAPI Hate
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
AAPI Emergency Response Network
Jennifer Fukutomi-Jones currently serves as arts & culture administrator with the City of Glendale’s Library, Arts and Culture department, and works directly with the Arts and Culture Commission to oversee programmatic initiatives of the Urban Art Program.
Prior to working with the City of Glendale, Fukutomi-Jones was the director of programs with Arts for LA where she oversaw programming and civic engagement initiatives such as the ACTIVATE Arts Advocacy Leadership Program, LA Convergence, ArtsDay, and ArtsMonth. Previously, she worked with the Ford Theatre Foundation and managed their signature community engagement program, JAM Sessions, both onsite at the Ford Theatres and offsite throughout various partner locations within Los Angeles County.
Fukitomi-Jones was also an associate producer for the Emmy award-winning, Los Angeles County Holiday Celebration, an annual three-hour, live-televised program at The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion which showcases the diverse talents of Los Angeles County. She also worked with The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company where she managed playwriting and performance programs for under-resourced youth and communities, and LA Opera where she managed the Community Opera Cathedral Project that featured over 400 professional and community choirs, singers and artists.
Fukutomi-Jones received her B.A. in American literature and culture with a minor in theatre from UCLA.