UCLA-led video campaign focuses on multiracial solidarity for AAPI month


Zulu Williams and Akemi Kochiyama

See Us Unite

Zulu Williams, left, Akemi Kochiyama, stand in front of a mural of civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama. Zulu Williams and Akemi Kochiyama are her grandchildren.

Building on the powerful mobilizing narrative of Stop AAPI Hate, a new social media campaign created by a UCLA professor and an alumnus celebrates the resiliency of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities through videos that highlight people coming together in support of shared struggle and activism.

Led by Renee Tajima-Peña, director of UCLA’s Center for Ethnocommunications, and Jeff Chang, author, filmmaker and UCLA alumnus, the first of the 14 videos debuts today. May 19 is the shared birthday of Malcolm X and Japanese-American civil rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, and the first video highlights their work together.

The videos and assets produced will live on a dedicated “Solidarity” page on the Asian American Foundation’s SeeUSunite.org. See US is a part of the foundation’s cultural campaign to increase visibility for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We’re building upon the Stop AAPI Hate movement of this past year and expanding to a focus on solidarity,” Tajima-Peña said. “We look at it as seeing each other, standing together and acting together — to find solutions for the way forward.”

See Us Unite

The short films — all one to 3 minutes — span moments of activist solidarity from American history such as the Delano Grape Strike, which brought farm workers Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cuz, César Chávez and Dolores Huerta together and sparked labor movements around the world. Other videos focus on artists like Bruce Lee, and Sugar Pie DeSanto as well as racial-justice activists Grace Lee Boggs and Kochiyama. Stories of Asian, Latino, Black and white students staging the longest student strike in U.S. history to demand ethnic studies on college campuses, moments of the Sikh community joining together with Muslim and Arab Americans to call for racial justice post-9/11 are also part of the series.

“By the end of the month, we will have seeded the solidarity narrative as a dynamic, expanding narrative that unites Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their allies to take action for each other and build healthy, vibrant communities,” Chang said.

A new video will debut each day for the remainder of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the final video premiering June 1. The series adds to Tajima-Peña’s PBS series “Asian Americans” and features original content from other documentary film artists, including Stephen Maing, Juan Mejia, Bo MirHosseni, PJ Raval, Jun Stinson, and UCLA alumni Grace Lee and Tadashi Nakamura.

The first video about Kochiyama and Malcolm X will feature on the TV special “See Us Unite for Change” airing Friday, May 21, from 8 to 10 p.m. on MTV Entertainment brands, BET, Nickelodeon and Facebook Watch.

The creators of the video series are partnering with other organizations that will integrate, share and cross-promote solidarity-oriented content. Public art collective For Freedoms is launching a national solidarity-themed billboard campaign in May. Previous billboards have been designed by artists such as Ai Weiwei, Garrett Bradley, and Shepard Fairey. A-Doc, the Asian American Documentary Network, is producing a 2021 Storytelling Initiative: Asian American Stories of Resilience and Beyond. The UCLA Asian American Studies Center is creating a related digital curriculum for kindergarten through college.

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.