The dozens of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are integral to Bay Area life and culture. But over this last year, Asian Americans in the Bay Area have faced increasing racist and xenophobic attacks, some fatal.
May is AAPI Heritage Month, which is the perfect opportunity to counter racist narratives and celebrate the vital contributions of Asian Americans to American society. May will also see multiple counties in the Bay Area transition into the yellow tier, allowing for greater access to venues and communal event spaces. We offer you and your loved ones a selection of ways to honor the diaspora and create a more equitable and safe society for everyone.
“Sowing Agency: Seeding the Future for Environmental Justice” (3-7 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, and noon-5 p.m. Saturdays–Sundays by appointment through May 23 at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan St., San Francisco, free): A visual arts exhibition presented by the Asian American Women Artists Association and the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center that explores climate grief and resistance across multiple communities and disciplines. https://www.apiculturalcenter.org/sowing_agency
“Crazy Funny Asians” virtual comedy show (8 p.m. Fridays, online, free): Every Friday in May, host K. Cheng gathers the funniest Asian American comedians from across the Bay Area and beyond for an hour of belly laughs. https://sf.funcheap.com/sfs-crazy-funny-asians-virtual-comedy-show-live/
Zine workshop: “Preserving and Uplifting Trans and Queer API Stories” (5 p.m. Wednesday, online, free): Asian Pacific Islander Equality of Northern California and the Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco have teamed up for an online evening of zine-making. The APIENC’s Dragon Fruit Project was founded to preserve and highlight the lives and history of trans and queer API individuals and communities.
Presentation: “Facing Mecca, Reflections of Islam” (7 p.m. Wednesday, online, free): As one of the world’s oldest and most practiced religions, Islam and its followers have produced acclaimed sacred art for millennia, but the artistry extends far beyond faith. See just how far at the San Francisco Public Library and Asian Art Museum’s partnership presentation. https://sfpl.org/events/2021/05/12/presentation-facing-mecca-reflections-islam
CAAM Fest (All day, Thursday-May 23, $10-$90): For its 39th annual iteration, the Center for Asian American Media Fest will bring you the best in Asian and Asian American stories in a hybrid model. This year’s festival presents a mix of films and panels through live virtual film screenings, an on-demand screenings platform and a select few live showings at San Francisco’s only drive-in theater at Fort Mason Flix, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco. https://caamfest.com/2021/
“Unity Against Hate” AAPI Rally (11 a.m. Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Fremont, Pacific Renaissance Plaza in Oakland and Central Park in San Mateo, free): Nobody should have to live in fear because of racism and xenophobia, yet 2020 and 2021 have seen an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Community Against Hate stands up to these injustices with coordinated protests, happening coast to coast at the same time. https://www.communityagainsthate.org/
Clarion Film Social (3 p.m. Saturdays at Clarion Performing Arts Center. 2 Waverly Place, San Francisco, free): For every Saturday in May, the Clarion Performing Arts Center will host “an hour of film(s) by local and international filmmakers” that highlight the nuances of the Asian diaspora. These include documentaries, shorts and biopics. These include “Dancing Through Life: The Dorothy Toy Story” (May 15), a documentary about the dazzling toe dancer and one half of the pioneering 1930s dance duo Toy and Wing; “My Third Act in Shorts” (May 22), a collection of veteran filmmaker Felicia Lowe’s short films including highlights from her “Gold Mountain” series for the California Museum; “Far East Deep South” (May 29), a documentary about Chinese immigrants living in the American South during the late 1800s to mid-1900s. https://clarionmusic.com/2020/11/01/weekend-film-social/
Leela Dance Collective’s “Celebrating Our HeART-filled Heritage” (4-5:30 p.m. Saturday, online., free): Kathak is one of India’s nine classical dance forms, incorporating music and song with dance to tell epics and myths. Members of the Leela Dance Collective will take to the streets of Oakland for a livestreamed performance, followed by an introductory kathak workshop.
Artist panel: “Environmental Resiliency and Asian Pacific American Leadership” (4 p.m. May 15, online, $5): The entire world is living in a climate crisis, but its impacts on different communities vary. In conjunction with the SOMArts Cultural Center exhibition “Sowing Agency,” the Asian Art Museum hosts a panel of Asian Pacific Islander artists, organizers and activists who will discuss how art and community can create the changes our planet needs. https://calendar.asianart.org/event/artist-panel-environmental-resiliency-and-asian-pacific-american-leadership/
“Scattered Melodies” Old First Concerts livestream (4 p.m. Sunday, online, free): Sanjo is a Korean music form inspired by the “improvised instrumental shaman music” of the 19th century, where a progressively chaotic rhythm is played on a single instrument. Renowned musician Hwayoung Shon will livestream her performances of foundational musician Kim Juk Pa’s work, “Scattered Melodies.”
ArtScapes in the Garden’s ikebana exhibition installation (10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 18 at Ruth Bancroft Garden, 1552 Bancroft Rd, Walnut Creek, $8-$10 admission): Nine artists from San Francisco’s Sogetsu School of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, will spend the day installing their newest arrangements at the Ruth Bancroft Garden using materials from the garden itself for the school’s first wholly outdoor exhibition. https://www.ruthbancroftgarden.org/rbgartscapes2021/
Author talk: Mia P. Manansala and Gigi Pandian in conversation (7 p.m. May 18, online, free): Lauded crime fiction writers Mia P. Manansala and Gigi Pandian sit down to discuss the craft of mystery/thriller writing and navigating the whitewashed world of publishing. https://sfpl.org/events/2021/05/18/author-mia-p-manansala-and-gigi-pandian-conversation
“Racism — An Introduction to the Tragic History of AAPI in the U.S.” (7 p.m. May 18, online, $15): The uptick in violence against the AAPI community has suffered over the last year does not exist in a vacuum and is not without precedent. The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose Center for Education & Spirituality present an honest look at what has happened and how we learn from past atrocities. https://oakdiocese.org/events/dsmsj-event-racism-an-introduction-to-the-tragic-history-of-aapi-in-the-us
“At the Table: Sugarwork, Afro-Asian Art and Foodways” (5 p.m. May 20, online, $10): The history of sugar’s global migration and incorporation into diets far and wide is impossible to disentangle from imperialism and subjugation. It is also a story of cultural exchange as cane sugar journeyed from colonial plantations to the rest of the world. The Asian Art Museum and the Museum of the African Diaspora present an exploration of sugar art and the “crossroads of Black and Asian diaspora arts and cuisines.”
“Angel Island Insight” (2 p.m. May 22, online, donation of at least $1): In an homage to their ancestors who passed through Angel Island, three Chinese American poets, Genny Lim, Flo Oy Wong and Nellie Wong — collectively known as The Last Hoisan Poets — present genre-bending and multilingual reading and performances on identity, anger and love for their ancestral land and language. https://www.apiculturalcenter.org/angel_island_insight
Author talk: Vanessa Hua in conversation with Yalitza Ferreras, on Hua’s novel “A River of Stars” (7 p.m. May 24, online, free): San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author Vanessa Hua joins Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award winner Yalitza Ferreras in conversation about writing, craft and identity. https://sfpl.org/events/2021/05/24/author-vanessa-hua-conversation-yalitza-ferreras-river-stars
Author talk: Andria Lo and Valerie Luu: “Chinatown Pretty” (7 p.m., May 25, online, free): The idea came from observing the stylish senior citizens of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Over six years, writer Valerie Luu and photographer Andria Lo photographed and interviewed undiscovered fashion icons in Chinatown neighborhoods across the country, culminating in their book “Chinatown Pretty.” They discuss the creative process and their favorite pieces of advice from subjects. https://sfpl.org/events/2021/05/25/author-andria-lo-and-valerie-luu-chinatown-pretty
Performance: Halau Ha’a Kea o Kinohi (6 p.m. May 26, online, free): This event combines history and dance performance to contextualize the history of the Kingdom of Hawai’i and Queen Lili’uokalani, the land’s final monarch, with students from Hawaii, the Bay Area and Japan. Event leader Kumu Hula Paul K. Neves has worked to preserve and uplift native Hawaiian art and cultural practices since the 1980s.
“YUGTO” (2 p.m. May 29, online, $0-30): As part of the 24th annual United States of Asian America Festival, the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center presents “YUGTO,” a three-part video series exploring the themes and influences of Filipino folk dance through geographic and colonial changes.
“Altar-N8 Realm: Chinatown” (1 p.m. May 30, Portsmouth Square, Chinatown, 745 Kearny St., San Francisco, free): Also part of the United States of Asia America Festival, “Altar-N8 Realm” combines spirituality with technology to bring attendees “an outdoor augmented reality art exhibition that honors our past/future ancestors through virtual offerings of food, prayer and reflection in San Francisco’s Chinatown.” Guests can embark on an augmented-reality guided tour of the neighborhood using a smartphone.