May 10 2013 - Nov 17 2013



“Under My Skin” featured 26 artists from many different backgrounds, all exploring the issue of race and racism in the 21st century. The exhibition ran from May 10th to November 17, 2013 in The Wing’s Special Exhibition Gallery. The show was accompanied by a blog that included posts by staff and interns about the process of developing the exhibit, pieces by artists discussing their prior and current work, and posts by activists and community members about issues and events related to the show’s content. After the exhibition came down the blog was not maintained, but its contents are available here — starting with the introductory post, below.


幸运快3During the run of “Under My Skin,” we invited visitors to respond to the artwork on camera. These brief videos — personal reactions, from a variety of perspectives — were available in the gallery via QR codes posted next to each piece.

1.  Responses to Tatiana Garmendia’s “Veils of Ignorance”


2.       Responses to Tim Stensland’s “Bus Stop”


3.       Responses to Jasmine Brown’s “Icons”


4.       Responses to Naima Lowe’s “39 Questions for White People”


5.       Response to Darius Morrison’s “The Layover”

6.       Responses to Akiko Jackson’s “Heritage Braided”

7.       Response to Mary Coss’s “Layers of the Hijab”


8.       Responses to Ling Chun’s “American Born Chinese”


9.       Response to Joseph Songco’s Untitled Photographs


10.   Response to Carina del Rosario’s “Passport Series”


11.   Response to Minh Carrico’s “Fragments of Htrae”


12.   Response to Erin Genia’s “Blood Quantum”

13.   Response to Jennifer Smith’s “Double Image”



On Lamentation 4 (Lift Me Up Let Me Go)

By Tatiana Garmendia

“Lamentation 4 (Lift Me Up Let Me Go)” is one in a series of Sumi Ink on handmade Okawara paper drawings that I began in 2011。 I am still actively engaged in the series。

All the lamentations explore notions of pietà in the aftermath of 9/11 and the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unlike agit prop, these drawings are not invested in proclaiming a political agenda or philosophic truth. Instead, they wrestle with the conflicting moral intuitions and intractable violence that mark our age, asking questions that do not necessarily have clear-cut answers. Traditionally, the pietà intends to inspire pity and sorrow in the viewer.

The models for this drawing, as they are for all the lamentations in my series, are veterans from the War on Terror or family of veterans. An intangible element of the work is getting seasoned veterans and their families to assume postures of exaltation or despair. My intention is for the role-playing to provide a way for their bodies to express fear, guilt, and relief in a context of creative collaboration. If there is any power in the ensuing work to evoke an emotional response in the viewer, it comes from this place.

For this piece, I showed my models a picture of Carracci’s Pietà and although they did not copy his composition, they ended up mirroring the pyramidal principle that organizes the original.

In Lamentation 4 (Lift Me Up Let Me Go) a woman wearing a burqa sits in the role of what in the Western art cannon would be the Virgin Mary, the sorrowful mother cradling the dead Christ. Behind her stands a figure clothed in white. I think of her as Lady Liberty, looking beyond the pitiful scene at her feet to peer anxiously at an uncertain future. In real life, this young woman’s father is still in active duty. Like the figure in this composition, she waits tensely for news of his tour. Reaching forward as if to help is another figure. It is not clear whose uniform he wears.

The wounded soldier in the foreground, the subject of all this mourning and worry, leans his head into the body of the woman in the burqa. One of her hands supports his head as the other holds his arm up. Below him, like spilled blood, blooms a red ink pattern culled from an Islamic prayer rug. Behind them all, written in white ink are lyrics culled from Linkin Park’s song, The Catalyst:

Lift me up, let me go
Lift me up, let me go
(And it can’t be out fought, it can’t be outdone)
(It can’t be outmatched, it can’t be outrun, no)
Lift me up, let me go

I created this series because I live in a country at war with radicalized Islam. Through my work as a teacher, I keep coming into contact with young men and women returning from the war front. Bidden or not, they have sacrificed much to defend the freedoms and privileges I enjoy each and every day. I meet the lucky幸运快3 ones. The ones who have returned alive.

But I have yet to meet any who were not powerfully transformed by their experience of war。 Most bear deep psychological scars。 In the same teaching capacity, I keep coming into contact with wonderful Muslim students whose bright eyes and bright minds immediately cast aside the mask of the enemy that war would thrust upon them。

The first time I showed “Lamentation 4 (Lift Me Up Let Me Go)“ was as part of an installation of six lamentations at the very college where I met all my models. A young Marine, recently returned from the war, wrote this to me after seeing the installation:

I have been in to see them five times….They are moving and inspiring, and they fill me with sorrow and rage.

幸运快3They make me want to go back there into the fight, and they make me want to never be a part of anything like it again.

The way you can communicate exactly that which aches inside of me is beautiful。

I can think of no better aim for my studio practice than to give voice to that which aches inside this difficult subject.

The Last Judgment, Prophet 9

By Tatiana Garmendia

In 2010 I began a series of portraits in which veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan assumed poses directly taken from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel masterpiece, The Last Judgment。 They posed as savior, martyr, saint, damned and demon — and I painted them。 Usually they wore camo, sometimes they wore battle gear。 I titled these pieces The Prophets。 Each painting portrays one or more soldiers in front of a contour line landscape that has become a pattern akin to camo。 Only the fracturing is caused by an explosion。

Each soldier takes on the role of prophet not by quoting from a holy book, but from a well-known Hollywood movie or televised image. The mythologizing function of war movies and televised images reveal a kind of Eternal Return, as the sacred intrudes upon our world with its archetypes and heroes. These are narrative arcs that often define our complex attitudes towards war.

In The Last Judgment, Prophet 9, three US Army soldiers gesture in response to Robert Oppenheimer’s famous edict in the 1965 televised documentary, The Decision to Drop the Bomb. Oppenheimer speaks about his response to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then goes on to quote from the Bhagavad Gita: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8H7Jibx-c0

幸运快3Oppenheimer never makes eye contact with the viewer or the camera during his rationalization of the use of nuclear weapons in civilian centers. Although he was a scientist, not the head of the armed forces who made the decision to do just that, it is very clear Oppenheimer feels a deep sense of responsibility for the suffering and destruction caused by his work on nuclear fusion. He even quotes Shiva, “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

In Prophet 9, each soldier gestures in front of a contour line drawing of a mushroom cloud. One reaches for his helmet which has dropped to the ground. Another looks down in apparent dejection, while the third turns towards the explosion and points in our direction, perhaps implicating us in some way. Did we give the orders that detonated the explosion he looks at?

Three veterans posed for this piece– one black, one brown, one white– and they were all US Army. Despite different ethnic and racial backgrounds, each wore the same uniform, became part of the same family united in a common military action. Each suffered severe trauma as a result of their experience of war, which included the terrifying and soul destroying decision to kill or be killed.

A profound connection occurs between an artist and her models. As I painted Prophet 9幸运快3, I saw myself in them. Perhaps because war and political conflicts caused so much suffering in my immediate family. Perhaps because under my skin, run brown, black, and white ethnic and racial blood lines.

And as I painted Oppenheimer’s quote, the prophesy in this piece, I also felt a deep sense of complicity. Perhaps because I live in and love a country that is at war, and war always causes death and destruction. Perhaps because these young heroes became destroyers of worlds to defend the freedoms and privileges that I get to enjoy at no mortal cost. Maybe, because like Oppenheimer said, I am like most people, and too often remain silent.


On Lamentation 10 (The Burning Times) and discovering my Self in the Other

By Tatiana Garmendia

In 2012, I created a series of gouache on Lokta paper images in response to the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hero in these small paintings is a woman shrouded in a burqa. A burqa is a lose garment that covers a woman from head to toe, and is worn by Muslim women, especially in Afghanistan. This piece is entitled Lamentation 10 (The Burning Times).

I had been working for some time with veterans from the War on Terror in an ongoing exploration of the effects of war, when I became interested in the Muslim Other. I use the term Other as a philosopher would, to describe someone different from the Self. One thing that I discovered while creating the Lamentations is that the more I learn about an Other, the more I realize they are like my Self.

I often rely on the synchronicities life throws my way to indicate what direction my art practice should take. About the time I began portraying the woman in the burqa, I heard the a most disturbing account from one of the veterans that had entered my classroom. He sadly recounted an instance when an Iraqui man offered to sell his veiled wife to him in exchange for a goat. I was horrified!

幸运快3Around the same time, France passed legislation forbidding the wearing of full-face coverings in public。 The Islamic scarf controversy (l’affaire du voile) goes back to the late 1980s, and precedes more recent waves of anti-Islamic sentiment, but the 2011 ban was a clear response to the continuing struggles between the West and radicalized Islam。

There were more nudges. The return of a long-lost acquaintance, now married to a Muslim man. Growing numbers of young women wearing scarfs and veils at the college campus where I teach. Some entered my classroom. They were bright, engaged, and perfectly not Other.

I had also just begun reading the book A Theory of Justice by John Rawls,and come across a thought experiment that profoundly moved me. The thought experiment is called veil of ignorance. This proposition reconciles liberty and equality as it aims to represent the perspectives of all members of society. The idea of the veil overcoming its stigma to become a requisite for true justice resonated deeply and inspired me to look deeper.

In Lamentation 10 (The Burning Times) a woman in a burqa holds a wounded soldier in her arms. He is dressed in desert camo. We can’t see her expression, but the gesture of her hands as she cradles him, how her veiled face touches his unconscious cheek, reveals much emotion. A fire glows red behind her figure and even the hand-made paper on which the figures are painted seems to be scorched.

幸运快3My mother was born as bombs fell during the Spanish Civil War. As a girl in Cuba I played in abandoned missile trenches. Like many others kids growing up after the revolution, violence and brutality were common political realities we learned to live with. Those who have never lived through extreme violence cannot comprehend that the burning times are carried in the heart long after peace has flourished. Both models for this painting know the burning times intimately. The woman behind the veil is a bona fide survivor, and the young man is a returning vet.

If only in the reality of this painting, all political paradigms are set aside so that the burning times can include love, compassion, and trust.

About the Author: Tatiana Garmendia is a Cuban-born artist living and teaching in Seattle. She exhibits widely and is in public collections in the US and abroad. Her work is figurative and driven by existential questions that probe history and culture.


Sports: How Level Is the Playing Field?
By Joseph Songco

Sports has always been an important part of my life. I recall making my first friends after emigrating to the U.S from the Philippines through sports. There was a mutual respect just by playing hard and being a good teammate. It was a part of my life where I could be as good as the next person, no matter what race or ethnicity I was.
Jeremy Lin’s story broke out last year and like most Asian Americans, I rooted for him. I still do to this day. Just recently, 60 Minutes aired their interview with him and it talked about racism and stereotypes that he’s had to deal with since his early playing career and up to this day.

To check out the interview with Lin, visit the following link:http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50144360n.

About the Author: Seattle photographer, Joseph Songco, has worked in the photo industry for the past 12 years。 His work encompasses both fine art and commercial photography and he has exhibited in museums and galleries in both New York City and Seattle。

Photo Credit: NicholasLa.com (retrieved from the Wikimedia Commons)


What’s Going On In This Picture?

By Andrea Michelbach

What’s going on in this painting? Look closely at the image above, then tell us what you see。 Later this month, the artist, Ronald Hall, will answer questions and reveal more about his thoughts behind the piece。

After looking closely at the painting, think about the following three questions:

  • What’s going on in this painting?
  • What do you see that makes you say that?
  • What more can you find?

Then, join — or start — the conversation by posting comments below。 Check out what others are saying and respond or contribute your own ideas。

About the Artist: Ronald Hall was featured in the 2004 exhibition “Beyond Talk: Redrawing Race” and will also be featured in the upcoming exhibition “Under My Skin: Exploring Race in the 21st Century.”


Advertising Bigotry
By John Armstrong
I’m a photographer who has two photos in the upcoming Wing Luke show “Under My Skin.” I believe that one of the roles of contemporary photography and art in general is to educate, provoke and promote discussions about various issues.

One recurring theme I’m interested in is what I’ll broadly call advertising. I’m interested in what people try to do to grab our attention in this media and image-saturated world. To this end, I photograph the messages we see all around us in words, signs, images and advertisements. Some of these messages are positive or neutral and some are negative. Some have double meanings and some are ambiguous, leaving their messages up for interpretation.

In America we are fortunate to have broad freedoms of speech and expression. But these broad freedoms can allow bigotry and prejudices to be broadcast just as easily as positive messages. One of my goals is to provide photos of some of these provocative “advertisements” for others to see and think about.

To keep these issues in the public eye we need to give them visibility. What you feel or how you react to or interpret these photos is determined by many things: your race, religious beliefs, family background, your life experiences, your mood when you see them, how liberal or conservative you are… and so on.

I’m providing the following photographs for you to consider. Some are pretty straightforward in their meaning while others are open to broad interpretation. They all deal with racial or other issues of prejudice and interference with personal freedoms. I’ll provide some questions I have when viewing these photos, and you can provide your own answers/interpretations.


“I Pick The Mormon,” 2013, John Armstrong

Was the person who decorated this truck making a racial and/or religious comment or merely indicating that he didn’t plan to vote for President Obama?


“Cha Cha Lounge, Seattle,” 2010, John Armstrong

At first the text on this lounge window seems very open and positive but does it also seem a bit aggressive? Does it make the lounge seem like a welcoming place?


“You Cant Steal My Voice,” 2012, John Armstrong

What do these two photos, taken a few days apart, say about freedom of speech in America?


“House Down the Street,” 2012, John Armstrong

What is the message the homeowner is sending to those who pass this house? What is the point of this message?


“One Way,” 2013, John Armstrong

Why is the “One Way” sign placed above the head of this carving of a Native American? Is it an indication of how Native Americans have been shuttled down one way roads for many years, a wish for them to keep going down those one way roads or is it simply a carving on the corner of a one way road?

Let’s Discuss

Racism, prejudice and discrimination are all around us even though some people may not see this as much as others. Making these kinds of photos available for all to see it reminds us that these issues still exist and hopefully serve as some starting points for discussions and ultimately actions regarding them.

About the Author: John Armstrong is an award winning Seattle-based photographer with a wide range of photographic styles and interests. John has published several books of his work, and his photographs are included in several public and private collections.


What Color?

“Who am I?” and “where do I belong?” are questions we all ask. Some of us have to think of our skin color whenever we try to answer that question, because how we perceive ourselves is always held up against how others perceive us.

The Realization of Whiteness

The first time I had a sense of self-perception was in high school when an African American friend invited me to spend the weekend at her home。 Our school was mainly white with a small number of students representing various races and ethnic groups。 She lived on a military base。 When I got on base, I noticed an immediate reversal of skin color。 Rarely did I see a white person。 Her father was a military officer。 In both the officers housing and enlisted areas of the base I was surrounded by shades of brown and black。

That was the first time I ever had the self-conscious thought “I’m white” inside my mind for a protracted period of time. It was a strange feeling. When we went to school the next week, I looked at her differently and wondered what it would be like to live inside brown skin that is always surrounded by white skin.

Inside Out

Recently I recalled that high school experience when I saw an African American art student paint a small brown oval surrounded by a sea of peach colored paint。 She was completely engrossed in what she was doing。 She transitioned from using a brush to paint a shape on the paper to using her hands to mix layers and layers of skin tones into a tertiary gray, which she then transferred to her hands and forearms。

幸运快3Her experiment became the inspiration for the collaborative art project I did with Mr. Stowell’s 4th- and 5th-grade class at Northgate Elementary. I wondered how they would respond to the concept of creating self-portraits expressing their inner lives installed over a field of skin tones.

About the Author: Kathleen McHugh is a Seattle-based artist. She has been actively exhibiting and teaching visual art since receiving her BFA from the Cornish Institute of the Arts in 1982. Themes of relation and identity are central to her work. 


Representing Mixed Race: Beyond

By Laura Kina

My 2011-12 oil paintings IsseiNiseiSanseiYonsei, and Gosei are on view in “Under My Skin: Artists Explore Race in the 21st Century” at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle May 10-November 17, 2013. The Japanese language titles mark the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth generations from my father’s lineage to live in the United States.

Issei is a ghostly indigo blue portrait of my great grandmother, who came in 1919 through the “picture bride” system of arranged marriage from Okinawa, Japan to the Big Island of Hawai’i to work on a sugar cane plantation in Pi’ihonua (near Hilo). Her image flickers in front of a row of female sugar cane workers dressed in protective work clothes made from repurposed kasuri kimono fabrics. Nisei features a similarly blue tinged portrait of my grandmother in front of a steamship, the Kamakura Maru, circa 1937-39 when she was sent back to Okinawa for high school.Sansei is a sepia toned image based on my mom and dad’s engagement photo from 1968. Next to their image is a colorful patchwork quilt made from vintage Aloha shirts. Yonsei features my own black and white wedding portrait rendered on top of an auspiciously celebratory red enameled background. I wore a white kimono and constructed Japanesque identity and my husband, who is Ashkenazi Jewish, looked like a young Sean Penn in his black tuxedo. Gosei is a portrait of our daughter Midori wearing a Hello Kitty t-shirt, the ubiquitous consumer sign of global Japaneseness. I painted her during the first weeks of September 2012. She is standing on the beach at once a little girl, my baby, and on the cusp of tweendom and about to enter her Hebrew school education. Midori’s expression and the formal composition directly reference the viewer back to Issei while the exaggerated blueness of her eyes and lightness of her skin signal her potential passing into whiteness.

These works thus function as a family tree of sorts. But as much as they are about my personal relations and relationships, they are also about relationships to time, to photography, and, in the racialized context that this show provides, they are about interracial relationships and mixed race. The paintings are at once about a process of becoming and looking back, willful acts of remembering, marking time and collapsing time and space. They are about distance and belonging.

I identify as hapa (half Asian), yonsei (fourth generation), Uchinanchu (Okinawan diaspora), and more generally and politically as Japanese American, Asian American, and mixed race. I’m also white but in Chicago, where I live, I am usually read as “Latina” but I have yet to embrace a Hispanic identity (I do have a Mexican American stepdaughter though). I live in an urban South Asian/Orthodox Jewish immigrant community. I’m a convert to Judaism, but no one ever guesses I’m Jewish. I don’t look the part. I’m more likely to be mistaken as Indian, vaguely reminiscent of the Bollywood movie actress Preity Zinta. My father is Okinawan and grew up on a sugar cane plantation on the Big Island of Hawai’i and my mother is from Kingston, Washington, where her family ran a roadside motel near the Kingston ferryboat landing. Her mom was a seamstress from a Basque-Spanish agricultural family and she grew up speaking Spanish in Vallejo, California. Her father was French, English, Scotch-Irish, and Dutch heritage (aka “white”) and hailed from Wacko, Texas, by way of cotton fields in Tennessee. He was a descendent of James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, as well as Major General George Pickett, whose infamous charge was the last battle of Gettysburg. Sometimes I think it’s funny that I’m simultaneously eligible to claim membership as a Daughter of the American Revolution and to throw my lot in history as a descendent of a Japanese “picture bride.”

I was born in 1973 in Riverside, California and grew up in Poulsbo, Washington。 I’m part of what I like to call the “Sesame Street generation of Multiculturalism” where being mixed race was “not that big of a deal” or even held up as a sign of racial progress and the American Melting Pot idea。 Of course I also got the constant “What are you?” and “Where are you from?” questions, which implied that I might not be like others (or at least the person asking the question) and that I somehow don’t fit in。 One of my brothers told me he was even mistaken for a foreign exchange student at his high school by classmates who he went to elementary school with! I have also experienced a range of racialized incidents from overt violent or discriminatory acts, to more subtle micro aggressions, exotification, and misidentified racial ascription。 Whether through portraiture, landscape, or text base design works, much of my art deals with Asian American and mixed race representation。 But I have chosen not to react in anger or let negativity define who I am。 My paintings are a space where I can control what is visible or invisible。 It’s a space where I can tell stories, engage with and commune my ancestors, learn about history, and ask my own questions。

To view the series visit: 

About the Author: Laura Kina is Vincent de Paul associate professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial conference; and cofounder and co-managing editor of the . Her solo exhibitions include(2010),(2010),(2007), (2006), and  (2003). She has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, and the Spertus Museum.


The Future is Now: Living Beyond Race in 21st century

By Wanda Benvenutti

Race in the United States has never been a black and white issue because the U.S. has never been just a black and white nation. There are many Americas. The shared history of Puerto Rico and the United States reflects this fluidity of ethnicity and race in the 21st century.

The island of Puerto Rico is located 1,090 miles Southeast of Key West, Florida and is approximately the size of the state of Connecticut. When Puerto Rico was officially ceded to the U.S. at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, so were the Philippines. As a Filipino-Puerto Rican, race and culture in America are two things Ray Cabatit now thinks about. “I knew I was Asian, I knew that for a fact, but I didn’t know how much Spanish I had in me.”

Puerto Ricans: The Future of Culture in America

For the first time in the history there are more people of Puerto Rican descent living in the mainland United States (4.7 million) than on the island of Puerto Rico (3.4 million). Yet Puerto Rican people and their culture have never fit into the rigid perceptions of race in North America; history shows us exactly why.

The island was inhabited by the indigenous population of Taino people as ships from Europe arrived with slaves from Africa。 It is no surprise that multi-racial families are part of everyday life in Puerto Rican culture。 Spain’s loss of its last colonial outpost in the New World had deeper consequences than the mere transfer of land。 It jump-started a complex history that defies traditional notions of race and nationalism。

After Ray’s wife traced her family tree back to 1610, she grew curious about his Filipino side and insisted he have his DNA analyzed。 His genetic makeup was not something Ray had thought about。

Then the test results arrived.

He was happily surprised. “When it said South European, that’s Spain, Portugal, Italy. That makes sense, with my Mom [being] Spanish. And it said West African, okay, that makes sense. South America and Africa, I’m thinking the slave trade. I’m 51% Asian, 34% South European, 6% West African, 6% Latin American, and there’s another certain percentage 4-5% that’s quite . . . it’s not ‘known.’ They don’t know what it is exactly. It just said ‘unknown.’ I don’t know what unknown means . . . there’s a little mystery there,” Ray said grinning. “That is cool. I’m excited.”

On a recent Sunday afternoon, he helped his Mother Josephina cook dinner in her Kent, Washington apartment. She smiled at the mention of what she passionately described as “My island.” She is an 86-year-old widow from Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Ray’s late Father, Ramundo Cabatit, was a dapper WWII Air Force veteran from San Marcelino, Philippines. Ramundo arrived in San Francisco, California as a 17-year-old.

New World Citizens

Both Puerto Rico and the Philippines were ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris in 1898. For 30 years the Philippines remained a U.S. territory, becoming independent in 1946. Six years later, Josefina met Ramundo in the Yakima Valley.

Josefina’s love of Washington State was instant. The friendly people and pristine rural countryside of the Yakima Valley reminded her of Puerto Rico. Not even her sister, who flew out to visit her, could convince her to move back where they had first settled: Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Josefina would not be moved, declaring, “Winter never ends in Connecticut!” Her sister flew back without her, and she married Ramundo in Wapato, Washington in 1952.

Ramundo experienced institutionalized racism firsthand after the end of WWII in California. Ray remembered what it was like for his father. “The reason he left was they had legalized discrimination here for Asians. So it didn’t matter if you were an attorney or a doctor, you were never going to get a job. There was no way you were going to have that job.” After seeing a biochemist and an attorney cousin each barred from their professions in 1945, Ramundo decided to start his family in the farming community of Wapato for a better life.

There were several practical reasons he raised his Filipino-Puerto Rican family there including a surprising lack of racial animosity during an otherwise very racist era. “He noticed in Wapato, in the Yakima Valley, there wasn’t that hatred because there were Filipinos, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans,” Ray said. “There was a very nice mix, so we settled in the Yakima Valley because we felt safe there.”

Ray and his brother visited Puerto Rico for the first time as adults in 2012。 The trip felt both familiar and entirely new: he saw himself in family members that are black。 He said he truly feels like a citizen of the world。

幸运快3“I think it’s really interesting that I am made up of parts from all over the world. Talk about immigration! Seriously,” Ray said. “My daughter, she has a Pacific Islander look, but when we were in Puerto Rico, she looked Puerto Rican! People would see her and assume she was Puerto Rican and start talking Spanish to her. And so what does Asian look like? I guess for me it’s really obvious, the cheekbones, just the general features: Asian. When I saw my cousins in Puerto Rico: Black. But when I noticed Asian features I thought, ‘Well, I shouldn’t be surprised. I shouldn’t be surprised!’”

Explore More

To hear Ray Cabatit describe his father Ramundo’s migration from San Marcelino,
the Philippines, through San Francisco, California, to the Yakima Valley
of Washington State, visit .

About the Author: Wanda Benvenutti is a Seattle-based photojournalist who has been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. In 2008 she was named a Seattle City Artist. The current focus of her work, American Boricua, is a modern visual history of Puerto Rican culture throughout all 50 U.S. states. Learn more at .


Crossing Lines: Gender, Race, Art and Liberation
By Jacque Larrainzar

Borders fascinate me。 Here, there, we have imaginary lines that determine so many parts of our social identities: Nationality, Racial Identity, Female, Male and how we express each — even, what we might define as “our” culture and traditions。

Refugee artists, like myself, often explore aspects of American Culture that are unseen to those born in the U.S. in contrast to our own Cultures. As the images of home and culture start to fade with the years, a new world of images and symbols emerges.

When painting or writing a song, I often use images from my life in Mexico to explain the cultural clashes between my native Mexican culture and my adopted American culture。 Contrasts makes me live “in between。” I am not from here, or from there, I am the result of a mix of cultural values, images, and expectations with only one common denominator: Liberation。

Liberation is a place without prejudice and privilege. To me that is the place where sexual orientation, female and male genders are a fluid, flexible continuum that transcends itself. Through Art, I can recreate a temporary space where these lines cross, curve, turn, and spiral without risks within a place and time where all that makes me who I am is not completely accepted. Within a painting, a song, crossing the lines is not dangerous but an adventure in finding “self.”

About the Author: Jacque Larrainzar is a Human and Civil Rights Activist who believes in art as a social justice tool that restores our humanity and allows us to share the uniqueness of our individuality creating community。 Check out some of her own art and music。


Cruzando L�­neas: G�©nero, Raza, Arte y Liberaci�³n
Las fronteras siempre me han fascinado. Aquí, allá, creamos estas líneas imaginarias que determinan partes de nuestra identidad social: Nacionalidad, Raza, como expresamos nuestra identidad femenina o masculina, incluso, lo que definimos como “nuestra” cultura o tradiciones.

Los artistas refugiados, como yo, a menudo exploramos aspectos de la cultura Americana que son invisibles a los que han nacido en los Estados Unidos. A través del contraste nos encontramos y a medida que el tiempo pasa, con los años, las imágenes de nuestro lugar de origen, valores y cultura empiezan a desvanecerse y un nuevo mundo de imágenes y símbolos emerge.

幸运快3Cuando pinto o escribo una canción, a menudo uso imágenes de mi vida en México para explicar el choque cultural entre cultural mexicana natal y mi adoptada cultural Americana。 Vivo entre mundos, en el contraste de las dos culturas porque ya no soy de aquí, ni de allá, soy el resultado de una mezcla de imágenes y recuerdos, valores y expectaciones culturales con un solo denominador: La liberación。

Liberación es un lugar sin privilegios y prejuicios。 Para mi es el lugar donde orientación sexual, los géneros femenino y masculino son un continuo fluido y flexible que se trasciende a sí mismo。 Atreves del arte, puedo crear un lugar temporal donde estas fronteras se cruzan en curvas, vueltas y espirales sin riesgos dentro de un espacio y tiempo donde todo lo que me hace ser yo no es completamente aceptado。 Dentro de una pintura, una canción, cruzar estas fronteras no es peligroso, es una aventura en la búsqueda de ser。

Jacque Larrainzar es una activista por los Derechos Humanaos y Civiles que cree en el Arte como una herramienta de la justicia social que restaura nuestra humanidad, y nos permite compartir nuestra individualidad humana creando comunidad.

Put These Combat Boots Away
幸运快3 By damali ayo

“Are you black?”

My dark-skinned African American upstairs neighbor gave an evaluative look up and down at my light brown skin, long black dreadlocks, wide nose and full lips and spat out the all-too familiar question。

He was in the middle of tearing me to shreds for shining a laser beam into his apartment window. I thought this would seem like a fuzzy cloud of red light, but instead it looked like a sniper was fixing a weapon on his forehead. He had every right to be angry.

I had taken the ill-advised action after a long year of neighbors waking me up at three-am, and a long painful day that included going to urgent care to find out I had kidney stones. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I had exhausted every ounce of patience I could muster for his extremely boisterous x-box habit. The sound effects were so loud I thought the NBA playoffs were taking place year-round. Pushing my good judgement even further over the edge was the repeated dropping of the “n-bomb” that he and his buddies used to punctuate their video game smack-talk. I was there to let him know that I wasn’t going to climb into bed with this as my lullaby, not tonight.


I answered his racial inquiry as he continued to ball me out, but his words turned to an audio blur as my mind danced around that persistent and haunting question I had been asked by black people my whole life, “Are you black?”

Over the years this question had been phrased and rephrased any number of ways including, “What race are you?” or “Look at you, you must have some white in there somewhere。” One woman attended a talk of mine and during Q&A openly stated, “I wasn’t going to come to this because I didn’t think you knew anything about racism, since you obviously grew up with a silver spoon in your mouth。” (I assured her that the only thing silver I remembered in my household was the Velveeta wrapper in the fridge)。 These questions were always accompanied by a particular look that seemed to indicate my willful inadequacy, as if to say– had I tried harder, perhaps my skin would be darker。

Despite spending my entire life as an unofficial and official representative of black people, I was constantly feeling kicked out of my own race.

As my neighbor’s tirade rambled on, I felt my tolerance for other people’s constant racial doubt of me run dry. I thought If one more black person asks me if I am black, I swear, they are going to get stabbed in the eye. I envisioned drawing a knife, and tackling my ranting neighbor to the ground gouging out the vessel that had judged me, leaving him with only half his sight, which it seemed to me was all he was using anyway.

I didn’t know why this kept happening to me.

I apologized to him for shining the light in his apartment. It was wrong and I had no problem saying so. He didn’t care. He continued to rant, and I continued to apologize. When both of us got tired of that cycle, he went back inside his apartment and I went downstairs to mine. I opened my door with a jittery hand, walked slowly past my kitchen into my bedroom, and sat on the edge of my bed in silence, shaking.

I sat staring at an empty page in my journal, which I had pulled out in the hopes of processing my feelings so I could go to sleep, but I wrote nothing. I said nothing. I had no words. I sat in stillness for half an hour, just staring at the blank page in my hands.

Then it hit me。 I am half white。

This was relatively new information to me, but apparently it had been obvious to everyone else all along. I had spent many days over the last forty years looking at myself in the mirror wondering why I looked the way I did. Now due to some family lies being revealed as lies, I was free to integrate the information that although I was raised with Black as the only racial identity I was allowed to name, I am English, Italian, African, and Native American. None of which are “one drop” they are big chunky identity-rebooting percentages.

I realized that my neighbor was only seeing me as I really am。

All those people had been trying to tell me something I had not been allowed to see。 I thought about all the people over my lifetime who had been confused by my racial identification。 I thought about feeling like an ambassador to white and black worlds, but never having a home in either。 I remembered the classmate who told me my accent changed based on whom I was talking to。 I thought about how black people always seemed suspicious of me。 I thought about how white people treated me as a novelty。 I remembered looking at photos of my high school graduation and thinking I’m way more light-skinned than I think I am。

The more I allowed myself to hear my thoughts, to see the threads of my own story, the more I sounded like my multiracial and biracial friends。 I stopped shaking。 A deep breath of truth worked its way from the center of my body all the way through my toes and the top of my head。

幸运快3I was ready to finally be me.

I was trained to be racially angry and paranoid at a very young age. My mother likes to tell the story, with pride, of when I was two years old and enrolled in tap-dancing class. I ran to her in terrified tears, because I was afraid to let the white teacher touch me. I was afraid she would turn me white. Children are not born fearing difference like this. I was taught early on that whiteness, inside or outside of me, was dangerous.

幸运快3Recently a friend visited me in the new small, mostly white town in which I have lived for the past two months。 She is a brown-skinned black woman with shoulder-length salt-and-pepper dreadlocks and as we sat together outside a cafe, friendly people passed by and greeted us with smiles and hellos。 I enjoyed sharing the comfort of a small town cradled by mountains, graced by a generous sun, and filled with friendly faces。 Los Angeles had never been this pleasant。

Over the course of the next few hours, my friend made comments like “Ooh, there’s two of us,” and “We could scare them by showing up together.” I felt knots in my stomach that I hadn’t felt in the two months since I moved here. I recognized in her the racial paranoia I was taught as a child, a paranoia I had cultivated throughout my life. I didn’t want to feel that kind of constant, nagging pain anymore. That pain made me a sad, angry, and deeply lonely person. That pain came not only from the presence of racism, but from my personal investment in it. Sometimes it felt like the best proof of my existence was in the evidence of racism, “I’m oppressed, therefore I am.” My dependence on this existential declaration was doubly reinforced by the challenges I got about my race and the credibility of my racial experience. I stocked up on evidence of my own oppression to prove to white people that racism exists, and to prove to the doubting black people that I was a legitimate member of the club.

It’s not that I don’t think there is racism everywhere, there is。 I have forty years of proof of that, but after forty years of proof, I realized that it doesn’t do my health and well-being any good to keep looking for more。

I have new, happier evidence of my own existence.

It was always there, but the status, the cache of oppression, and my need for it, clouded the joy of my own life. My friend seemed disappointed that I would not participate in her fantasy that every passerby viewed us with suspicion, judgment, animosity, and ignorance, instead of seeing two beautiful women having a chat on a bench in their small friendly town. She asked me how I found it here with a look that indicated she was inquiring if the people here are racially ignorant. I said, that since I had stopped looking for racism around every corner, I hadn’t experienced any.

It was surprising to hear myself say this, and even more surprising that it was true. I marveled at the fact that I never thought that people were looking at me twice because I was “the black girl” but rather because I was the new girl in town. Their kind and helpful responses to me seemed to jibe with that fact. It actually had taken me nearly a month before it even occurred to me that people might be thinking about my race.

As a woman who had been trained to be racially paranoid before I could read, it was a freedom I had never felt.

Accepting myself as multiracial requires a great deal of forgiveness, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a well of forgiveness within me ready to tap. The truth does that, it opens up stores of forgiveness that cannot be accessed when it is being repressed. I found myself forgiving my family, forgiving myself, forgiving both white and black people, and forgiving of all of my ancestors. Talking to a friend I heard myself say, “One group of my ancestors (English) enslaved another group of my ancestors (Africans) and murdered another group (Native American). (As far as I am aware the Italians are in the clear). I am ready to be at peace with that.”

This blew me away.

I am ready to be at peace。

I have to be at peace. I spent too many years in the angst of a deception, staring at my truth in the mirror and obscuring it through the tools of anger, paranoia, and fear, trying to prove to everyone else that I exist within their parameters. Now I choose to look in the mirror and see a miracle of history, the dissonance and conflict that led to who I am can exist in a happy person, and maybe one day, in a happy culture.

幸运快3Since all of this transformation has been occurring in me, a line from a song has been constantly running through my mind. When I was in my early twenties my favorite band was The Neilds. One of their songs said “So I will change, ’cause I have changed. It’s time to put these combat boots away.”

Nearly twenty years later, the substance of who I am has changed, and I will change to meet it. It’s time to put my combat boots away.

About the Author: damali ayo is a writer who was once a conceptual and performance artist. She is the author of two satirical books on race and is currently searching for a publisher for a deeply revealing memoir about her own femininity. damali is available to talk to your school or community; please visit her website damaliayo.com.

Do We Really Value Equality?
By Dustin Washington

The dreary and rain filled Northwest winter months provide a lot of time for me to reflect on the state of our world。 I often find myself in front of my fireplace or at a coffee shop pondering who we are as a nation and who we could become。

In 2012, it is clear to me that our nation is not living up to the principle of “and justice for all.” We as a nation have not yet found the collective will and courage to eradicate the evils of systemic poverty and systemic racism.

In America today, 27 million workers make less than $8 dollars per hour, child poverty has increased by 18% since 2000, and at the current rate it will take African Americans 581 years to reach economic parity with Caucasians.

By 2017, we will have more African Americans incarcerated than were enslaved at the height of slavery in 1863. We as a nation are 5% of the world’s population but incarcerate 25% of the world’s prisoners, and we spend 6 times as much on incarceration as we do on higher education.

These statistics call me and should call you to question the fundamental nature of our values and our level of developed compassion as a people. It has been said that “I cannot be free until all others are free’. The great spirits are calling each of us to work for a greater freedom grounded in equity and care for our brothers and sisters. Political modernity will suggest that we must accept the world as it is, but I must argue that we can create the world our ancestor’s dreamt of, if we organize. A new world is possible.

Leadership for the Long Term
Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity; Carl Jung developed the foundational understanding of the unconscious mind; and Dr. Jim Dunn and Ron Chisom developed the principles of anti-racist community organizing of the People’s Institutes for Survival and Beyond.

The People’s Institute believes that for us to do effective social change work, we must internalize the following principles:

Internalized racial oppression
Understanding militarism
Learning from history
The importance of culture
Analyzing power
Understanding the manifestations of racism,
Leadership development
In today’s blog post, I will focus on the principle of leadership development.

Activism Overload

I have often heard Ron Chisom say that most activists tend to develop a disease called issue/crisis syndrome。 When the police shoot someone, activist march and make emotional driven demands, the next day the same activist will be at a rally for fair housing in the morning, at city hall protesting budget cuts at lunch, and speaking at a forum on drone attacks in Yemen in the evening。

Now, all of the issues are worthy of our consideration, but usually the ways we as individualistic oriented activists approach these issues tend to not produce any real and lasting systemic change or relief of oppression.

Jumping from issue to issue and crisis to crisis is often an indulgent act of self-importance and being “oh so busy” serves as an excuse for not having time to develop comprehensive strategies to bring forth meaningful change。

Toward Intentionality

While issues are important to address of course, we must also be guided by a long-term vision of building and sustaining a movement. As anti-racist and humanistic organizers, we must develop new leadership, young and old, who will carry the movement into the future when we are gone. The side benefit of having a cadre of new leaders is that established veteran leaders can stay fresh, spend time with family, and live healthy balanced lives.

Through my work, I have tried to make leadership development a primary focus. The Tyree Scott Freedom School and Youth Undoing Institutional Racism exists to develop the next generation of leaders who will go out into the world having internalized the values and principles of anti-racist organizing and do their part to continue to transform our world for the better. We seek to give these young leaders an ongoing education and opportunities to apply principles of organizing in their communities, schools, churches, etc.

For more information about the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, please visit PISAB.org. To learn more about the Tyree Scott Freedom School, see the video below.

Don’t Look Away: Analyzing Power
In the nonprofit and social justice world, we all too often seek to “fix” oppressed individuals, but rarely do we help oppressed people challenge the power of institutions.

The People’s Institute (introduced in last week’s post) believes that true liberation movements must be grounded in and guided by a critical analysis of institutional power。

The Power of Institutions: A Step-by-Step Look

As anti-racist organizers, we must:

Work with our constituencies to understand the history of each institution that impacts their community.
Work with our constituencies to develop clarity about how the policies of a myriad of institutions in their community contribute to keeping their community poor and in an oppressed state. (As we analyze systems with our constituencies, they will begin to see how every policy, program, etc. for their community is ultimately controlled by those in systems outside of their community. For instance, how the community is policed, insured, educated, housed, given services, etc. is often set up by outside paternalistic forces in ways that perpetuate exploitation.)
Challenge this power dynamic/relationship and begin to give community control over the institutions that govern their lives. This is key to oppression being lifted.
We also believe it’s important for communities to understand that no institution operates in isolation and that the collusion of multiple institutions creates a web of oppression that must be deconstructed.

An Example of Analysis

In Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR), we have spent the past few months analyzing the relationship between corporations and neo-liberal economic policies of our government that serve to economically devastate their communities. Together we have looked at how corporations–in the pursuit of profit–have outsourced high-wage union jobs overseas; pushed for austerity measures, including the cutting of government-funded social services, privatized schools, and prisons; and increased spending on instruments of repression, namely the criminal justice system.

Later this year, YUIR will analyze in-depth the collusion between the food industry and the health care system. They will learn how food industry sales lower quality and how genetically modified foods help create food deserts and over-market fast foods in poor communities and communities of color. YUIR will then explore how these actions create higher levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lower life spans, and many other race- and class-based disparities in poor communities and communities of color.

This cross-system analysis will prepare YUIR members to do more conscious and transformational organizing work not only now, but for the rest of their lives。

While organizing work is very much an art, we must also try to ground organizing in as much critical analysis as possible。 Engaging with our respective constituencies in rigorous analysis of systems and institutions is one useful step in that direction。

Changing the World: Skills of an Organizer

In my final blog post, I want to outline the skills and traits a strong organizer should internalize. I have included thoughts on organizing from The People’s Institute, Van Jones and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond

The ability to educate others。

幸运快3As organizers we must first educate ourselves on the issues impacting our communities and our world. We must have a strong grasp of the historical and contemporary construction of Racism and other manifestations of oppression. It is not enough for us to just have a baseline understanding of oppression. We must commit to a continuous practice of keeping up to speed with various policies and trends that affect the constituencies we serve.

幸运快3As we engage in a lifetime of study, we must also develop communication skills so we can help our constituencies better understand the world around them. Knowledge is truth and truth leads to a community demanding better conditions.

The need for a long-term vision.

All too often we as organizers engage in the addictive but futile behavior of running from crisis to crisis, but never investing the time to plan. It is incumbent upon organizers to take ample time to develop a strategic vision of where we are taking our work, and the tactics that will get us there. We must also build in an ongoing commitment to honest and objective reflection upon the work we do.

The forces of oppression we are up against surely take time to plan, and we must also. Having and articulating a shared vision will also hold all participants in an organizing effort accountable to the collective goals.

From Van Jones’s Noah Principles

Deal with our inner demons。

幸运快3As organizers we are not immune to the soul damaging impacts of oppression and trauma. We all too often tend to bring our past baggage, pains, hurts and unhealed wounds into our work in ways that often stir turmoil and destruction.

We MUST develop mechanisms in our collective organizing that not only encourages healing but demands healing. We all need to focus on our diets, our spirituality, our physical health and our unaddressed emotional scars as a path towards collective liberation. As Dr. Kimberly Richards often says “when you organize from your pain, pain is what you produce.”

From Kingian Non-Violence

Change systems, not people.

Dr. King believed it was misguided to focus on removing certain people from power or addressing individual acts of evil. Instead, we must focus on changing the nature of systems that allow individuals to act in oppressive and anti-human ways.

Transform our enemies.

We must never demonize individuals. We must always hold the potential for people to become better. To create the Beloved Community we must see that everyone has the potential to change. When we demonize another of God’s children, we demonize a part of ourselves as God is in all of us.

幸运快3One tactic Dr. King suggested was for us to put ourselves in the shoes of the “other.” If we were socialized differently or born into a different class or race, we probably would act in very similar ways to that which we object to.

These are just a few thoughts on what an organizer should internalize. If you want to learn more, please visit us at AFSC.org or PISAB.org.


About the Author: Dustin Washington is Director of the Community Justice Program at AFSC and Core -Trainer with the Peoples Institute NW。

The Same Old Look at Difference: A Review of

By Colleen Lenahan

I went into the exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? with high expectations. I had heard good things about it: it was supposed to be provocative, fresh, and engaging. I wanted to feel challenged. I wanted to have my mind expanded. I wanted to be changed. Perhaps it was because of the pressure I put on the exhibit, but I was disappointed by what I actually saw.

The Overview

The exhibit brought up several themes, none of them particularly challenging or groundbreaking。 There was a section talking about sickle cell anemia, another introducing the Out of Africa Theory, and another examining the categories of race used on the US Census。 The main part of the exhibit was a cumbersome series of three timelines tracing the historical roles of science, government, and society in the construction of the concept of race。

幸运快3Overall, I felt like I was trapped in a shouting match (not even a shouting match, which would have at least been exciting, but more of a tepid whispering match) between an anthropology journal from about 20 years ago, a boring American history textbook, and a biology picture book for children. I was so oversaturated and underwhelmed that I searched desperately for some meaning, some white-hot core of provocation that would leave me awake in bed for days, pondering what I had seen.

In the end, I found no such provocation, but there were some pieces of the exhibit that struck closer to the mark of what I wanted to see in an exhibit about race in America in the 21st century. They were all aspects of race viewed through the “Lived Experience” lens of the exhibit (the other two being “History” and “Human Variation”).

The Silver Lining

Prof. Vernellia Randall’s “Who is White?” interactive made me reconsider my own racial preconceptions. The series of questions presented a nationality, such as “Albanian” or “Spanish,” and asked the visitor to categorize people of that nationality as “White,” “Not White,” or “Unsure.” Though the exercise was thought-provoking, it reinforced the concept of “whiteness” rather than trying to deconstruct it.

The Hapa Project, a series of intimate photographs of mixed race individuals and their handwritten responses to the question “What are you?” was another bright spot, as it explored some personal iterations of what race looks and feels like now in America: not a series of discrete categories like white, Latino, Asian, or black, but a gradient of identities, colors, voices, and backgrounds。

Kiri Davis’s documentary “A Girl Like Me” proposed the sorts of questions I was hoping to see more of in the rest of the show. In this short film, the teenage filmmaker interviews black teenage girls about their conceptions of beauty and how they feel they are perceived and supposed to be perceived by other black women and by society as a whole. It probes the current status of race and gets more into actual perceptions of race by those affected by it, not just parroting textbook versions of how racial relations have been in the past. Davis also performs a test where she presents two baby dolls, one black and one white, to a series of young black children. The vast majority of these children identify the white doll as being the one they would want of the two, the “good” one, and the “nice” one, while they describe the black doll as “ugly.” To me, this study was the most informative and insightful aspect of the entire exhibit.

The Takeaway

Perhaps the exhibit failed to deliver what I was craving because it was looking in the wrong direction. The focus on history was understandable, but in my opinion, limiting. Yes, we should always remember the sins of the past in order to never repeat them in the future. Yes, we should have a sense of how things came to be how they are today. But history needn’t limit us or define how we explore racial differences in the future.

As Rogers and Hammerstein wrote in the musical South Pacific, people have to be taught to be racist. In order to attempt to move beyond racism, we must erase the ideas about race held in the past and reinvent the concept, coming up with new ways of exploring and celebrating the diverse backgrounds that make up the United States of America. And rather than looking forward, this exhibit was looking back, reaffirming racial stereotypes of the past in a new generation.

About the Author: Colleen Lenahan is a second-year graduate student in the Museology Masters Program at the University of Washington. She is interested in connecting visitors to museum content through exhibit development, and she believes that museums have a responsibility to move social dialogue forward in America.

Up for Discussion

[Editor’s Note: We posted about this exhibit early last month, and it will be coming to the Pacific Science Center next year。 For the perspective of Robert Garfinkle, who was the project lead on this exhibit, see this post and this post on the Incluseum’s blog。]

What do you think about how museum exhibits should handle race? Should museums look mostly forward or back? Should they balance both perspectives? Which perspective do you find most meaningful?

Just Who Is Yellow?

By Mizu Sugimura

“Just Who Is Yellow?” is the title of a mixed-media collage that I made which appeared in the show “Beyond Talk: Redrawing Race” at the Wing Luke Museum in 2004. It was one of several originally made to address a particular member of the audience: my own family, and especially Mom.

You see, back in the day it was Mom and my own family who refused to be engaged about conversations about race! Oh yes. They did introduce my sibling and me to the concept — i.e. in this country there were primarily haku-jin (whites) and nihon-jin (us). Only years later I learned we actually needed to use a different word for half of that equation or “Nikkei,” which I use now.

Words were important and I learned that right away. Japanese-American parents were different in their presentation from those of my haku-jin classmates. It wasn’t limited to they way they looked. It couldn’t be explained just looking at social class, economic levels or choice of career or profession. And it couldn’t be completely understood using only individual personality and temperament. Part of it had to do with words, or more accurately, the lack of them. In some subject areas my parents were often speechless.

So I’ve always been curious about words。 I went into journalism partly because I thought learning how to write more precisely could possibly be of help in figuring out how to do what was most difficult: communicating with my own family about what had or hadn’t happened in our family history。

Although I didn’t know it at the time, I wanted to know about the World War II internment camps that they and the rest of the elders in my family had personally experienced。 This was a subject they didn’t want to talk about。 In fact, at the time, most of the whole Japanese-American community to whom they belonged did not want to talk about it。 But I didn’t know that!

It’s a wonderful development that since that time society has come a long way and we can more readily discuss issues like race and racism –- not only in public but within our own ethnic communities and families. I had to use collages because pictures were less volatile and threatening to my mom and the rest of my family than words. When I used words, too many for their comfort, I was basically told I was not respecting my elders and that it was time for me to shut up.

幸运快3So I let some time go by, and returned to engage the same people a number of years later, I had figured out that talking with pictures might be worth a try. It was a good choice. I’m sorry I didn’t think of it a long time before. Pictures have been very effective as a way of talking to people outside my family about race, racism and all of the myriad ways that individual human beings are different from each other. That’s the power of artistic expression. It’s revolutionary!

Since I started making pictures about my family’s experiences in the camps, and talking about painful issues in my community with pictures, I have learned how much of my parents’ and grandparents’ difficulties dealing with race and racism have personally affected the choices, options and horizons I was able to see available to me.

When you are putting yourself together, it isn’t easy to see how much your family and upbringing has insidiously implanted itself in your brain – so much that when it first comes out, you think of it as your own personal choice!

Back in the day it wasn’t just that my elders and I couldn’t find a common ground to talk about their internment camp experiences. We couldn’t talk about a lot of things, particularly issues that had a lot of emotional weight. This was partly because it was taking too much emotional energy for the older members of my family to not process the painful legacy of their teenage incarceration by their own government and their own fellow citizens.

幸运快3In this way fragments related to war and the aftermath of World War II in my community still figure prominently in the background of our psyche and family lives, even when the principals who actually owned the original memories have died.

The Japanese-American community is not the only group in society that wrestles with a topic like this。 We are not alone。 Look about。 Many, many groups within our country are dealing with this, and topics like this。

The retention of our memories as individuals, groups and communities can be a point of pride, or a cause for concern. We know change is inevitable and that times constantly challenge us. We must evolve. The issues I am talking about can be harnessed through art as an example, for good or not so good. It all depends upon how much we are aware that they still lie beneath the surface of our every day levels of reflection, perception and discernment.

About the Author: Mizu Sugimura is a self-taught artist of Japanese-American ancestry。 For over three decades, she was married to a man from Japan。 She is the mother of an adult son and a current member of the City of Fife Public Arts Commission。About 20 years ago, she was chairman of the first City of Federal Way Diversity Commission and testified at the 1981 hearings held by the US Congressional Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians as a member of the Sansei (third-generation) Panel。

The Politics of Beauty
By Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor

In 2006, I wrote the poem “The Politics of Beauty” in response to a Filipino friend’s lament that her young daughter had been told she was lucky because of her light skin and hair. As a mother of Euro-Filipino children, I too was horrified that someone, even in a well-meaning way, would teach a child such a racist viewpoint. As the poem developed, however, I began to realize that the poem was really for all women of color, especially Pinays, who still believed that their bodies—short, dark, flat-nosed, slanted-eyed—marked them as less desirable, less intelligent.

Time and again, I have heard the stories of Pinays having their eyelids altered so they would appear more round-eyed. Skin-lightening creams are popular both in the US and in the Philippines. As a child, I was told never to play in the sun so my skin wouldn’t darken any further. In public women’s rooms, I overheard jealousy over taller, thinner, paler women, and I realized they were wishing to be different than who they were physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Why this self-hatred? It was easy to blame commercials and ads showing leggy blonds draped in jewels strutting catwalks while cameras flashed all around them, but not everyone wants to be a model, not everyone needs the power of attention.

As a US-born child of immigrant parents, I realized that wanting to be different was a matter of survival; the closer we can align ourselves with the dominant culture, the more likely we are to succeed socially and economically。 We often feel powerless to change the systems of oppression we experience。 It seems easer to change our own bodies to undo the violence of colonialism and capitalism inflicted upon our predecessors and us。

The problem, though, is that it is very difficult to see self-racism, to be brave enough to encourage each other to be proud of the bodies we have, to see the irony in the popularity of tanning booths and products to make pale skin look “sun-kissed。”

“The Politics of Beauty” was written in hay(na)ku, a form created by Eileen Tabios, a Pinay writer from California. The crisp pace of the form focuses the images as they shift from the body to the landscape. The poem wraps with a mention of Mebuyan, the Manobo Goddess of the Underworld. Mebuyan refused to live in the sky where her brother ruled. Instead, she created a place where the dead could rest before being judged by the Creator. The halls of her kingdom are polished gold so the dead can see themselves clearly. Only good and sensible things are discussed there, and when the dead speak, everyone listens. Mebuyan takes particular care of the unborn children and she is often depicted with many breasts with which she nurtures the unborn.

In my poem, Mebuyan weeps because the dead come to her altered from their true selves, broken and believing that there is nothing good or sensible about them。 She weeps to heal; she weeps to mourn the loss of fulfilled lives。 Part warning, part prayer, “The Politics of Beauty” is dedicated to the silent ones whose beauty shines beneath the layered pain, a pledge to work toward a world where our daughters will shine with authentic beauty inside and out。

The Politics of Beauty

your nose
幸运快3 tight and high.

your skin
幸运快3 from darkening sunrays.

your feet;
no shuffling steps.

your back
tall and lean.

your tongue
around English words,

words erasing,
taking away skin,

almond brown,
hair, midnight sky.

you’ll pass
through golden doors,

behind paddies
and plantations ripped

jungle hillsides
幸运快3 where kulintang sing

songs for
dark-skinned children begging,

mothers turning
tricks, sending daughters

to broken men
with violent hands,

Mebuyan weeps
the dead home.

About the Author: Publishing under the pen name Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor, Rebecca A. Saxton received her MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific Lutheran University in 2012. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Katipunan Literary Magazine and the online magazine Haruah. Her short story “Yellow is for Luck” appears in the anthology Growing Up Filipino II: More Stories for Young Adults, edited by Cecilia Brainard. Her poetry chapbook Pause Mid-Flight was released in 2010. She has been performing as a storyteller with the Bellingham Storyteller’s Guild for six years and specializes in stories based on Filipino folktales and Filipino-American history. Currently she is a member of the English Faculty at Northwest Indian College.

To contact Rebecca, please email rebecca@rebeccamabanglomayor。com。

Language and Cultural Soul
By Vica G

so what do we want to do with it? this problem of race/ skin color/ life cultures.

幸运快3we neighbor next to each other。 watch each other as we shop。 we wonder at the food, music, languages “they” use。 and oh my gosh, they are speaking non-english right now and I do not know what the heck they are saying。 I cannot muse and merge onto this language they use at will, at whim。 Their word-sound is the air, sky, and water to them— BUT IN MY NOT UNDERSTANDING THAT SOUND, I CAN NOT REASON AND LOGIC WITH THEM。 the words of that other language float, whirl。 and I, with open mouth and face against unknown word-speak, can not reach through it to reach them, to form me to them。 so what do we do? we, living different cultural lives and cultural souls?

on the path of my mexican life, my mexican cultural soul, I accept there will always be a level of intimacy that is unreachable with others who have not been born with the cultural soul of the culture that is mine. and I have hurt from that

About the Author: vica g, born in mexico, grew up in the usa, xicana poet/ 58 years of life/masters degree in library and information science


Community Means This

By Andrea Michelbach

While attending a recent , I sat in on a small-group discussion in which people were brainstorming how to reach out with the happiness message.

“But wait,” someone said. “What are we talking about when we talk about community?”

Good question. Community — a buzzword of late — means many things to many people. Is it your neighborhood? Your religious group or ethnic affiliation? Your city or street? Community bears clarification.

The “community” in the “community-based exhibition model”

 operates on a “community-based exhibition model.” This means that all of the museum’s exhibitions, including the upcoming one about race, are developed in collaboration with a group of community members.

This group of community members is called the Community Advisory Committee, or CAC. CAC members are typically, but not always:

  • People who live in the Seattle area
  • People with a direct connection to an exhibition topic
  • Leaders within other community organizations

Of course, this leaves the definition of “community” pretty open. That’s intentional. For the race exhibit, the CAC members range from artists to city leaders to independent filmmakers to former Wing employees.

For me, the diversity reflected in this CAC and others at the museum is astounding (not to mention exemplary, challenging, and more). It’s also reflective of a core message of the upcoming race exhibit: Together, we can achieve a success greater than one individual could ever imagine.

Stay tuned

In the upcoming months, you’ll hear more about the CAC for the race exhibit and from its members. In the meantime, click over to the The Wing’s website to learn more about its .

About the Author: Andrea Michelbach is an exhibits intern at The Wing and graduate student in Museology at the University of Washington.

Exhibit Update: October 2012

By Andrea Michelbach

Last month, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) for our race exhibit met for the third time。We had a lot to do — brainstorming, reviewing, strategizing。 But before all that, we began, as usual, with dinner。

I’ve only been to two of these meetings so far, but both times, I’ve been amazed that people show up on a Wednesday night。

I also feel proud to be part of a meeting setup that includes dinner。 To me, it’s a simple show of hospitality, but one that seems to really relax everyone and start the meeting off right。

Why participate?

Of course, people don’t just attend the CACs for a free dinner。 After our September meeting, I asked some of the CAC members for the race exhibit why they were there。 Here’s what a couple of them had to say:

“I came to bring my generation’s perspective — my life perspective.  I wanted to see how ‘honest’ people were with broaching the race issue. Most like-minded people will be in the room to support, do they come to learn something new?”

“Being on the Race Exhibit Community Advisory Committee has given me so many chances to hear first-hand experiences of the people around me。 In this case, people of different ages are participating and so I’m getting to better understand how racism and exclusion has been similar or different for different individuals。

“I’m always learning something new and although the diversity and nuances of experiences and responses are difficult to wrap my head around, I’m always inspired at the end of each session. I know that I’m supposed to be contributing to the CAC, but I usually feel that I’m the one benefiting the most from all the other insightful and thoughtful members!”

What happens next?

After our September meeting, here’s where the CAC is at in planning the exhibit:

  • Our exhibition name ideas are off to The Wing’s Development and Marketing team for fine-tuning.
  • We’re looking at what educational and interactive components might accompany the exhibition.
  • We’re sending out the Call for Art. (Interested? Check out the “” page.)
  • We’re contacting people about writing posts for this blog and writing them ourselves. (Again, interested? Check out the “” page.)
  • We’re looking forward to our next meeting on November 7.

Want to join us?

If you’d like to attend the next CAC meeting, email Mikala Woodward at mwoodward@krajty.com.

About the Author: Andrea Michelbach is an exhibits intern at The Wing and graduate student in Museology at the University of Washington.

The Power of Place + Past + Poetry

By Andrea Michelbach

During a recent “Race Talk” Potluck, Caprice Hollins, of Cultures Connecting, led participants in a poetry writing exercise. The resulting “I Am From” poems speak to the power of the places and histories that shape each of us.

 uses a similar prompt to create “Where I Come From” poems. As Richard Gold, founded of Pongo, says:

幸运快3“Where I Come From” is often about more than a place, it’s about something deep in us 。 。 。 “Where I Come From” is about who we are。

Where do you come from?

Tell us in the comments. Here are some prompts from Pongo’s website to get you started:

  • I’m from a street where _______________________________.
  • I’m from a long line of people who ____________________________.
  • I come from experiences like _____________________________.

Calling All Art!

The art submission deadline is coming up for our race exhibit. In fact, Feb. 1, 2013, is the last day we’ll be accepting entries from artists of all media, ages, races, and backgrounds who have a connection to the Pacific Northwest.

3 Reasons You Should Submit Your Work

If you’ve checked out the  and are on the fence, consider these reasons why you should submit your work:

  1. Your perspective is unique. This exhibit seeks to represent multiple voices–and that doesn’t mean you have to be singing the same tone or tune as the person next to you. You certainly haven’t had the exact same experience as that person. Let’s learn from each other.
  2. Art matters. Discussions of race through art are different than discussions of race through violent news or institutionalized wrongs. Though such things may inform art about race, art gets to “Tell all the truth but tell is slant.” Let your art tell us truths we haven’t heard from angles we haven’t considered. Share your slant.
  3. You can start conversations. If your artwork is selected, it could touch many people of many different backgrounds in a place (a museum!) to explore, to question, to talk. Imagine what you want people to discuss in the galleries. Submit the stimulus for that conversation.

Still on the Fence?

If you need help getting your submission together or with anything else, contact Mikala Woodward, Exhibit Developer, at mwoodward@krajty.com. Mikala is managing the upcoming exhibit but will not be selecting the specific artwork. Rather, she’s here to help you present your best to the Art Selection Panel.

About the Author: Andrea Michelbach knows Emily Dickinson wasn’t necessarily talking about race-based artwork when she wrote “Tell All the Truth,” but Andrea  — and perhaps Emily, too — believes that art can get at tough things in novel and useful ways.


Call for Art


at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience


Exhibit Dates: May 10 to November 17, 2013

The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience invites artists to submit work for an exhibition exploring race and racism in the Pacific Northwest in the 21st century. The exhibition will open in May of 2013 at The Wing in our Safeco Insurance Foundation Special Exhibition Gallery.


In 2004 The Wing broke new ground with a powerful exhibition: “Beyond Talk: Redrawing Race.” This innovative show reached beyond the Asian Pacific American community to also include artists from African American, Native American, Arab American, Latino American and European American communities. Twenty works by local and regional artists explored the perceptions of race and racism in the United States and the Pacific Northwest. The museum developed related activities that encouraged visitors to engage in deeper conversations with others and take action in their own communities. The responses—from artists, visitors and community members—were raw, real and profound.

Since 2004, the cultural landscape has changed. And while there has been progress—some even talk of a “post-racial America”—it is clear from our present political discourse, our institutional statistics and our everyday lives: race still matters.

In 2013, The Wing will open a new exhibition that revisits race and racism through contemporary art。 As with the 2004 show, the exhibition grows out of a series of community discussions that shape its goals and themes。


Goals for this exhibition include to:

  • Explore the changing landscape of race and racism in the 21st century
  • Examine the unique ways race plays out in the Pacific Northwest
  • Engage youth and elders in an ongoing conversation about race that honors the past and builds a vision for the future
  • Move beyond clichés and stock stories to the rich and complicated reality of race in our daily lives.
  • Provide a space for frank, innovative artwork that provokes active responses to difficult questions.
  • Create a “safe” space where people can open their minds and hearts, be vulnerable, sit with discomfort, listen to new perspectives, and speak their own truths.


Potential themes for artwork include but are not limited to:

  • The intersection of race with gender, age, class, sexual orientation, immigration status, and other identities.
  • The rise of multi-racial individuals and families in the U.S.—does this change the meaning of race?
  • Immigrant/refugee perspectives on race in the U.S.
  • How art can express pain, grief, rage—and still inspire healing
  • Historic roots of race and racism—resulting realities today and visions for the future.
  • Different forms of racism: personal prejudice, structural inequity, overt and “hidden” racism
  • Is white still the American “norm”? Is there a new American norm?
  • Talking about race: subversive or patriotic?
  • Cultural appropriation versus cross-cultural exploration/inspiration

Call for Entries

Eligibility. Submissions are open to people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds who live in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska) or who have a connection to the region.

All media will be considered, including visual and sculptural works, installations, and digital and/or multi-media pieces; performances must be in video format. Within reason, there are no size restrictions. Collaborative work by multiracial and/or multigenerational teams of artists is encouraged. Because this show aims, in part, to focus on what has changed (or not) since 2004, please submit recent work, or work that speaks to race and racism today.

In addition to producing or providing an original work or works for the exhibition, selected artists may be asked to: participate in a moderated discussion about their work, contribute material for online discussions, and/or participate in youth workshops.

Submission Guidelines. Please send all materials electronically to Mikala Woodward, Exhibit Developer, at mwoodward@krajty.com. Please submit no more than five separate works (a series of related works may be considered as a whole). Submissions should include:

  • Contact info. Your name, phone number and email address in your email and on each page of materials.€
  • A cover letter.Submit as a PDF and include (2 pages max):

o    Your connection to the Pacific Northwest.

o    How your submission relates to the exhibition themes, including its relevance to current issues of race and race relations.

o    A description of artwork images and/or submitted files。

o    Technical requirements, if any, and estimated shipping and transportation costs。

  • Artist info. Submit an artist statement and biography as a PDF (2 pages max).
  • Work samplesIn a separate e-mail, submit images of artwork in .JPG or .PNG formats (2550 x 3300 pixels or less). Submit multimedia artwork (5 minutes max each) via an online link or by mail on a cued DVD. For each image or file, detail in the cover letter its:

o    Title

o    Date

o    Medium/media

o    Size

o    Brief description

Deadline. All submissions must be received via email by 11:59 pm PST on Friday, February 1, 2013. You will notified that your submission has been received by Tuesday, February 5.

Notification. Submitted work will be reviewed by the selection panel in February 2013. Artists will be notified if their work has been selected by Friday, March 8, 2013.

Delivery. Selected artists must deliver their artwork(s) no later than Friday, April 12, 2013.

Support. The Wing has a budget for shipping/transporting artwork that is selected for the exhibition. We unfortunately cannot provide financial support for the creation of art for the exhibition.

Publication. Photographs of selected work may be displayed on the museum’s website, in promotional and educational materials, and on the exhibition blog.

Questions? Comments? Visit The Wing’s website or contact Mikala Woodward, Exhibit Developer, at 206-623-5124, ext. 115, or mwoodward@krajty.com.


Art Bonanza!

The word is in: Roll up your sleeves, Art Selection Panel!

As you may know, the art submission window for our upcoming race exhibit closed last Friday on Feb。 1。 We feel grateful to have received such a host of wonderful, creative, thoughtful works。 During the rest of this month, our capable community-based Art Selection Panel will be reviewing submissions and making the difficult decision of which ones to include in the exhibit。


In Other Exciting News

The race exhibit now has an official name! At our last Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting, the group agreed on “Under My Skin: Exploring Race in the 21st Century.” As usual, the conversation surrounding the name was rich and complex. Tell us what you think in the comments below.

We’re still actively looking for people who would like to contribute to this blog. Share your art, your thoughts, your personal stories and opinions. Check out  for more details.

That’s all for now, but as always, thanks for staying tuned!

Artists Confirmed!

Pardon our silence this last month — the art selection panel has been busyyyyyy! After a month of meetings and a great deal of thoughtful conversation, the panel chose 27 artists for the “Under My Skin” exhibition.

The call for art brought in a wide array of talented artists with powerful pieces. We received 87 submissions for the exhibit and over 300 individual pieces of art, a record for The Wing! We were fortunate to have so many people help spread the word, and the resulting list of art for the show could not have happened without the hard work of so many people over the course of the past year. Thank you!

Join Us in May!

With just one more Community Advisory Meeting to go, we’re fast approaching the exhibit opening in May. Mark your calendars for the reception May 9 and the official opening May 10. We would love for you to join us.

In the meantime, here’s the list of the show’s artists to get you even more excited. Keep an eye on the blog for their work and thoughts around the exhibit. If you’d like to contribute your own work and thoughts, please !

Artists for Under My Skin: Exploring Race in the 21st Century

  • John Armstrong
  • Jenny Asarnow
  • Wanda Benvenutti
  • Jasmine Brown
  • Kathy Budway
  • Minh Carrico
  • Lemuel Charley
  • Ling Chun
  • Mary Coss
  • Carina del Rosario
  • Tatiana Garmendia
  • Erin Genia
  • Ronald Hall
  • Chau Huynh
  • Akiko Jackson
  • Laura Kina
  • Naima Lowe
  • Fumi Matsumoto
  • Kathleen McHugh
  • Darius Morrison
  • Cahn Nguyen
  • Polly Purvis
  • Jennifer Smith
  • Joseph Songco
  • Tim Stensland
  • Stefani Thornton

Goodbye, Fashion, Hello, Skin

There’s bad news and good news. First, the bad. Yesterday was the last day to see “Fashion: Workroom to Runway” at The Wing — hope you got to see the fabulous exhibit at least once. The good news is that the end of “Fashion” means we’re really on the horizon of “Under My Skin: Artists Explore Race in the 21st Century”!

Come check out “Under My Skin” beginning May 10 — and keep your eye on the blog, where we may share some sneak-peek installation photos.



Community Partners:
21 Progress
5th Ave Theater
AFSC Seattle Community Justice Program and Youth Undoing Institutional Racism
Bethany United Church of Christ, Seattle
Cultural Art Projects
Cultures Connecting
Ethnic Heritage Art Gallery
IDEA Odyssey Gallery
Japanese American Citizens League, Seattle Chapter
Japanese American Citizens League, Olympia Chapter
Jewish Family Service; Refugee and Immigrant Service Centers
KidSpeak Consulting
Lake Washington Girls Middle School
Latino City Employees
Northwest African American Museum
Parents for Student Success
The Service Board
Social Justice Fund NW
Trusted Advocates
Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
Season Sponsor
Exhibition Lead Sponsor
Media Sponsor
Additional Season Support
JP Morgan Chase & Co
Metlife Foundation
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
Additional Exhibition Support
City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods
Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation
Snoqualmie Tribe Funds
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