Against a backdrop of violent, racially-motivated attacks against persons of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) backgrounds, which culminated in the horrific mass shootings in Georgia occurring at two Asian-themed spas that left eight people dead, harassment against AAPI folks has been on the rise. The attack comes in the wake of the former president’s attempt to deflect responsibility for the federal government’s poor performance against the COVID pandemic while stirring up anti-Asian bias and xenophobia.
Time magazine’s latest issue explores the entrenched racism against folks of AAPI descent in America, featuring a cover by artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, currently in residence with the NYC Commission on Human Rights. Titled With Softness and Power, the artwork features a portrait of a young AAPI woman staring directly at the viewer and confronting them with her strength. The young woman also gets bordered by a symbolic choice of flowers and foliage. Phingbodhipakkiya chose chrysanthemums for resilience, peonies represent community, and hawthorn berries as a symbol of staying power.
New Yorkers might recognize the portrait as it was used in the I Still Believe In Our City campaign, a series of works that explores the discrimination and harassment AAPI folks face, with 184 incidents alone happening within the city from February to July.
“In this heavy time of anguish, heartbreak, and anger, I know many of you, like me, are so tired, Amanda said on Instagram. “I hope that when you look upon this cover, this guardian offers you a moment of peace and pride, and may her defiant spirit be a rallying cry for systemic change, accountability, and more resources for our community.”