A Statement to Our Community: #BlackLivesMatter
June 1, 2020
Seattle Asian American Film Festival (SAAFF) stands in support of Black communities and all those grieving the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others who have suffered or died as a result of anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence. We demand justice and recognize that silence is not an option. As an organization that is committed to providing a space for the voices and artistic work of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), SAAFF stands in solidarity with all communities of color and recognizes that AAPI communities have often been vehicles for the advancement of white supremacy. The AAPI community must acknowledge our own complicity in anti-Black racism and work to actively confront anti-Blackness. We ask our community to join us in doing this work and standing in solidarity with the movement, Black Lives Matter.
As the mission of our festival attests, film can play a critical role in amplifying the voices of marginalized peoples and fostering social change. The following documentaries provide in-depth examinations of issues that led up to the current moment, including institutionalized anti-Black racism, police brutality, and the prison industrial complex in the United States.
“The title of Ava DuVernay’s extraordinary and galvanizing documentary refers to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.’ The progression from that second qualifying clause to the horrors of mass criminalization and the sprawling American prison industry is laid out by DuVernay with bracing lucidity. With a potent mixture of archival footage and testimony from a dazzling array of activists, politicians, historians, and formerly incarcerated women and men, DuVernay creates a work of grand historical synthesis.” – Rotten Tomatoes
Available on Netflix.
“Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. Empowered parents, artists, and teachers from around the country come together as freedom fighters. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, these young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance. Filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis know this story because they are the story. Whose Streets? is a powerful battle cry from a generation fighting, not for their civil rights, but for the right to live.” – Rotten Tomatoes
In an era of stark racial injustice, Aaron Dixon dedicated his life to revolution, founding the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age nineteen. In My People Are Rising, he traces the course of his own radicalization, and that of a generation. Through his eyes, we witness the courage and commitment of the young men and women who rose up in rebellion, risking their lives in the name of freedom. My People are Rising is an unforgettable tale of their triumphs and tragedies, and the enduring legacy of Black Power.” – Green Eyed Media
Rent on Vimeo.
“On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated—and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to ‘…let the fire burn.’ Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.” – Zeitgeist Films
Available on iTunes.
“With contemporary audio interviews from leading African American artists, activists, musicians and scholars, The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 looks at the people, society, culture, and style that fuelled an era of convulsive change. Utilizing an innovative format that riffs on the popular 1970s mixtape format, Mixtape is a cinematic and musical journey into the black communities of America.” – PBS
“An intricate and fascinating narrative, “I Am Not Your Negro,” gives us a view of both Baldwin and Peck’s journeys as Black men in America, encountering racism and violence. Using Baldwin’s words and thoughts (voiced impeccably by Samuel L. Jackson), Peck connects the lives of Medgar, Malcolm and Martin to the landscape of American history, reflecting on how the devastating assassinations of these towering men and so many other Black people, are still traumatizing us today. Using clips from classic cinema including Sidney Poitier’s “The Defiant Ones”, audio from Lena Horne’s arresting performance of “Stormy Weather,” and various news clips, interviews, and photos from the past and present, “I Am Not Your Negro” left me feeling utterly raw and stripped bare; a witness at last to authentic American history.” – Shadow and Act
“Transcending a mere biographical portrait of this unique woman, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs uses the intersections between Boggs’s life and historical events to explore essential questions about political and social change. Are debate and reflection as vital to social transformation as action? What’s the difference between protest and revolution? How do we transform ourselves personally and also act as a community? In short, how do we create a world that delivers on the promise of ‘liberty and justice for all’?” – American Revolutionary Classroom Discussion Guide
Asian Americans are complicit in and have benefitted from the systematic oppression of Black Americans. Below are resources to serve as a starting point for addressing anti-Black racism in Seattle’s Asian American communities and beyond.
- BIPOC Link-Up: Acknowledging Anti-Blackness in Communities of Color
- Letters for Black Lives and Letters for Black Lives follow-up + resources
- 6 Ways to Support the Movement Beyond the Streets by South Asians 4 Black Lives
- Black and Asian-American Feminist Solidarities discussion and reading list by Black Women Radicals and the Asian American Feminist Collective
- Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit by Asian American Pacific Islanders for Civic
- https://bit.ly/2zNl4pq – 20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right Now
- https://bit.ly/2ZTRPfh – 30+ Ways Asians Perpetuate Anti-Black Racism Everyday
- https://bit.ly/3gIG559 – #Asians4BlackLives in 2020
- https://n.pr/2ZSuISa – “Model Minority Myth Again Used As a Racial Wedge Between Asians and Blacks”
- https://bit.ly/36NcnY7 – Why Ferguson Matters to Asian Americans
- https://bit.ly/2zFjXIx – Why Asian Americans Might Not Talk About Ferguson
- https://bit.ly/2MttaXb – More Resources (Talking about Anti-Blackness with Family, Funds and Orgs to Support, Art and Media, Resource Toolkits)
- https://bit.ly/2ZS2Hu8 – Even More Resources for Asian Americans
- https://bit.ly/2Y1g5tx – Clairvoyance Installation #2: White People Read: Reading List curated Diana Oh [While the original intention of this list is to invite white-identifying individuals to recognize and challenge their place within structures of white dominance, it contains an extensive list of books that are a resource for all.]
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- An Indigenous Peoples’ history of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
- An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
- All About Love by bell hooks
- Emergent Strategy by Adreinne Maree Brown
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- Literally everything by james baldwin tbh
- Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong