October 21, 2015

A Tale of Two Ghettoes event cancelled

We are announcing the cancellation of “A Tale of Two Ghettoes”, a multimedia performance by artist Horatio Hung-Yan Law scheduled for Saturday, October 24th. APANO agreed to sponsor Horatio’s event due to the critical topics of displacement and gentrification that it seeks to highlight. However, extensive consultation with APANO members, staff, and APANO’s Arts and Media Collective has resulted in the conclusion that the title of the event, which includes the word "ghetto", is not appropriate and does not align with APANO’s stance against anti-Black racism. We value and respect the talent and work of Horatio’s, and also believe in the concept of the project. However, as an organization, we feel that the intention of using the word “ghetto” can be problematic and potentially harmful.

We believe that the term “ghetto” must be understood as a term with contemporary meaning that recognizes the present and local. The contemporary usage of “ghetto” is associated with Blackness: Black neighborhoods, Black people, and Black culture. In Portland, “ghetto” must fully recognize Portland’s Black community and their lived experiences of intergenerational displacement, over-policing, and lack of resources and opportunities afforded to Black Oregonians. These experiences of anti-Black racism are specific to the Black community and cannot simply be collapsed into shared experiences of racism by non-Black people of color.

As non-Black people of color, we must be aware that our experiences are not all the same and be careful to not appropriate and exoticize Black oppression for our own struggles against systemic racism and oppression. Yes, Chinatowns are neglected neighborhoods that have confined and controlled Chinese Americans, but those policies and experiences are not equal in intention and outcome. Because of this, we have a responsibility to not reproduce terms used to devalue Black neighborhoods and Black people.

APANO believes in empowering and lifting up the voices and experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders, but always within the context of racial justice, not at the expense of excluding or perpetuating the oppression of other communities of color. We recognize our role in initially supporting and advertising this event as originally titled and are committed to reflecting and learning as an organization to take a strong position on anti-Black racism in the future. We believe that genuine allyship with Black communities means that we need to work against the internalized anti-Black racism within our own API communities, and that a commitment to racial justice demands no less.

APANO is working to create a vibrant space for cultural work to thrive as a strategy for change, where artists and communities are working together to shift narratives and re-envision an equitable world through the tool of art. We believe that communities that are directly impacted by the issues they are facing, should be leading the organizing, policy advocacy, and cultural work, and that these efforts hold important potential to create space for learning, dialogue and elevating our experiences. APANO is invested in doing this with, and not on the backs of, other communities of color, and see our cultural strategy, like all our work, as grounded in a vision of racial justice, healthy communities and ensuring all families have the rights, recognition and resources they need to thrive.

For questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Luann Algoso
Community Engagement Manager
luann@apano.org | 971-340-4861

Joseph Santos-Lyons
Executive Director
joseph@apano.org | 971-340-4861