Midwest Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) musicians, dancers and poets will come together on Saturday for an evening celebrating collaboration, healing and the spirit of their community at the “Celebrating Asian American Arts, Community & Culture” performance. . The free event will take place at the Detroit Film Theater inside the Detroit Institute of Arts and is part of a series of events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin.
“Our hope is that through song, poetry and movement, these artists will truly affirm our call for future generations to carry the torch of Vincent Chin’s legacy,” said event director Rebeka Islam. . “And in the times we live in right now, in these troubled times, it’s transformative and healing. It was important 40 years ago, and it’s just as important today.
Chin was bludgeoned to death outside a bar in Highland Park in 1982 following a run-in with two white men he met inside. The pair allegedly shouted racial slurs during the argument, amid growing anger at Japanese people who were seen as stealing American car jobs. The men were fined $3,000 and given three years probation without jail time, and kicked off a pivotal moment for Asian American activism.
“One of the reasons things like this happen is that we are dehumanized,” said Japanese-American Nobuko Miyamoto, singer, songwriter, artist and activist. “And the way we become human is by telling our story and telling it through culture, through writing, through performance, through music, theater, dance; this is all really important.
Joined by producer and songwriter Derek Nakamoto, bassist Juan Perez and vocalist and percussionist Asiyah Ayubbi, Nobuko will perform original music, including a song written about Chin, as well as Chinese-American activist and Detroiter Grace Lee Boggs. Nobuko said her music is rooted in the Asian American movement of the early 1970s and she will perform music from that era, including music from her album “A Grain of Sand.”
She will also perform new material from her latest record ‘120,000 Stories’, referencing the number of Japanese Americans who were placed in camps during WWII, including her own family as a child. .
“That experience of being kind of a refugee in America was one of my foundational experiences,” she said. “It was really only through exposure to the arts that I healed from the trauma, and had some form of expression.”
The Electronic Music Ensemble of Wayne State, led by Korean-American Joo Won Park, will also perform Park’s original music on keyboards, synthesizers and laptops.
“I find that in Michigan, in this area, there’s a noticeable number of Asian American artists, but they’re not well represented,” Park said. “It’s hard to find, so I think doing this concert where Asian artists are presented, in a wider audience, makes sense. It basically says…there are Asian American creatives who are active and doing interesting things in the region.
Other performers include poet Frances Kai-Hwa Wang and dancer Joori Jung.
Customers must present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test and wear a mask to enter.
Park said the performance was a great way to see and meet active Asian American artists.
“Usually we’re spread out, we do our own things, but you can see music, dance and poetry people in one place, so I think it’s a good place to meet other people. in the region,” he said. “For those who aspire to be part of Detroit’s artistic community, it’s a great opportunity to see the diversity of the cultural scene, and it’s rewarding.”
“Celebrating Asian American arts, community and culture”
7-9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Detroit Film Theater, located in the Detroit Institute of Arts at 5200 John R. Street, Detroit.
For more information and a full list of events, go here.