1990 Institute Newsletter

Volume 1: Issue 2

February 26, 2021


Dear Friends, 

As we wind up the Lunar New Year season, we at the 1990 Institute are excited to share the second issue of our new 1990 Institute Newsletter, which we will be sending you twice a month as a way for us to reflect on the issues and share the news about the U.S. and China, Asian Americans, and to let you know the latest from the 1990 Institute. If you missed the launch of our first newsletter in your email box, with an article about how to celebrate “Lunar New Year, Pandemic Style,” you can still find it HERE.

Thanks also for your continued support of the 1990 Institute with your Lunar New Year charitable giving. You can make a secure tax-deductible online donation HERE, and you can subscribe to this newsletter HERE. Tell your friends.

Wishing you safety and good health,

Frances Kai Hwa Wang, Editor and Curator

Happy Lunar New Year!

Fundraising banner by the #EnoughIsEnough initiative and artist @jdschang featuring 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, who was killed in January.


Communities of Color Stand Together

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang


As we wind up this Lunar New Year’s season, a time when we would normally be enjoying Grandma’s cooking and hoping for red envelopes, COVID-19 has us staying away from our elders to keep them safe. At the same time, a surge of violent attacks targeting Asian American seniors across the country has us even more worried about how to keep our elders safe in the current climate. Even as we scramble to sign them up for COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

In recent weeks, an 84-year-old Thai American man in San Francisco died after an unprovoked attack, a 91-year-old Asian American was shoved from behind in Oakland, a 64-year-old Vietnamese American woman was assaulted and robbed in San Jose, a 61-year-old Filipino American man was slashed across the face on a subway in New York, and more. Asian American businesses and schools have been vandalized, including racist graffiti at Chinese American International School in San Francisco and an insulting message written in human feces on the front door of an Asian American preschool in Alhambra, CA. COVID19-inspired-anti-Asian American violence has been occurring for over a year, exacerbated by the political rhetoric of the Trump administration which used racist terms such as the “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu.” However, many of these recent incidents have occurred in broad daylight, many have been caught on video, and not all are necessarily racially motivated.

Community vigils and rallies as well as virtual discussion panels have drawn attention to the incidents. Activists have urged community members to resist calling for more policing, which often harms the community further. Instead, many Asian American community organizations are calling for more creative community-based solutions, interracial solidarity, and allyship. For example, a Latino activist organized volunteers to walk with elders, Black and Asian American artists raised funds for Asian American advocacy groups, Black organizations donated to Asian American organizations, and a diverse coalition of activists filled refrigerators and donated free meals.

“Black/Asian solidarity is more critical now than ever, as our communities often share the same neighborhoods and we need to work together to promote community safety and health,” Professor Russell Jeung of San Francisco State University Asian American Studies and Stop AAPI Hate told the 1990 Institute. “We have to build on our legacy of struggle, such as the [Black Student Union]/Third World Liberation Front that established Ethnic Studies, to move forward as communities of color. In multiracial neighborhoods, we face the same issues: unemployment, poor education, lack of health access. So we need allyship to address our common concerns.”

The key to preventing violence and promoting safety is systemic change to give all communities access to economic and health opportunities. “Both [Black and Asian American] communities are working together to dismantle America's system of white supremacy, but on different fronts,” said Jeung. “The system seeks to divide and conquer us as it pits us against each other. Instead, by fighting for racial justice and supporting each other's issues, we can build unity and make the US a more inclusive democracy.”


Curated News

Crime, race, safety: what’s really happening in Oakland Chinatown? | Part 1 | The Oaklandside Recent assaults on Asian American seniors in Oakland Chinatown have sparked international outrage and have been widely called hate crimes, but Asian American writer Momo Chang (who will be moderating next week’s webinar at the 1990 Institute) looks for evidence whether these were racially motivated.


Rising crime, calls for solidarity: a deeper look at what’s happening in Chinatown | Part 2 | The Oaklandside Is crime in Oakland Chinatown really increasing? What does community solidarity look like?

VIDEO: Asian American communities stand up amid string of violent attacks | ABC News Nightline Asian American journalist Juju Chang takes a closer look at recent violent attacks on Asian Americans and calls for solidarity with African American communities, with actor Daniel Dae Kim, US Rep Grace Meng, Dr. Connie Wun, and actor Will Lex Ham.


The Last Stand of S.F. Chinatown's Storied Banquet Halls | San Francisco Chronicle These restaurants have been Chinatown’s heart and soul. What happens to San Francisco if they disappear?

Tri-Caucus, House Democratic Leaders, and White House Condemn Spike in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes, Call for Immediate Action | CAPAC  In response to the recent surge of hate violence targeting Asian Americans, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), along with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, came together on the Day of Remembrance to condemn the recent spike in anti-Asian American hate crimes and violence and to call for stronger action by both Congress and the Biden administration. US Representative and CAPAC Chair Judy Chu said, “I am committed to working with President Biden and his administration to improve hate crimes tracking and ensure state and local law enforcement agencies have the resources needed to work with the AAPI community and respond effectively.” VIDEO: Pelosi, House Dems call for action on hate incidents targeting Asian Americans | NBC News




  • As we close out Black History Month, we are reflecting on the similarities that the Asian American and Black communities share. While some focus on the friction among a subset of members, we are looking to continue productive conversations that promote solidarity and benefit us all.



  • Please join us on March 4 for a virtual panel discussion entitled Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asian Americans During Violent Times. The recent spate of violence against Asian Americans has garnered the attention of the nation and the White House. At this critical juncture, it is imperative to raise awareness and understanding of the situation and to respond appropriately to ensure the safety of those in Asian American communities. We are bringing together highly respected leaders from the Asian and Black communities to lend perspective and present solutions on how to improve community public safety while underscoring the necessity for allyship among all communities. All are welcome. Please register HERE for the event on March 4 at 2 pm PT / 5 pm ET. If you’d like to submit questions prior to the event, please send them to discussions@1990institute.org. Questions will also be taken during the event. We look forward to seeing you there!


  • We plan to bring a number of virtual programs to you this year. Beyond Headlines: Protecting Asians American During Violent Times is the first event in our new discussion series called Beyond the Conversation. This series brings a virtual panel of speakers to you on issues that matter to all Americans regarding contemporary China and Asian Americans. Please sign up for our mailing list to receive the latest news.


  • We are in full swing with production on our new video series. The 1990 Institute is developing this series with a goal of providing a nuanced and in-depth understanding of the contemporary issues affecting Asian Americans and U.S.-China relations. The first video for 2021 will showcase why it is important for everyone to learn and understand more about China and Asian Americans. Stay tuned - it will be launched in March.


  • Submissions for our second College Essay Contest were accepted through this past Sunday, February 21. This contest is jointly hosted by the 21st Century China Center, Fudan-UC Center on Contemporary China, and the 1990 Institute. Thank you to those who participated. We look forward to reading the winning essays and sharing them with you in a future newsletter!

Dim Sum - A little bit of heart

PODCAST: The Electric Image Express celebrates Asian American/Asian films and their creators. On this episode, actors Charles Ryu and Yeena Sung and writer Kat Kim talk about their movie, “Happy Cleaners” (streaming today), and share some of their memories of 설날, or Korean Lunar New Year.

The Electric Image Express Podcast

We hope to see you at our webinar on March 4 at 2 pm PST!


1990 Institute
P.O. Box 383  | San Francisco, California 94104



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