In the Spring of 2020, just weeks after New York City became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, in collaboration with community members Tomie Arai, Lena Sze, Vivian Truong, and Diane Wong, established A/P/A Voices: A COVID-19 Public Memory Project. With the help of volunteers from across the US, A/P/A Voices has conducted over seventy oral history interviews and collected over seventy-five artifacts that will be archived at the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Since intersectionality and cross-racial solidarity served as central pillars of the project, A/P/A Voices began with documenting the effects of the pandemic on A/P/A communities in the midst of the global protests against the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black people at the hands of the police and vigilantes. Narrators came from a multitude of backgrounds, including: Asian immigrant service providers; first responders; advocates for street vendors, sex workers, nail salon workers, and tenants fighting evictions; mutual aid and food pantry workers; poets; musicians; artists; students; and activists.
Interview materials document A/P/A experiences during a moment of intense xenophobia and anti-Asian violence in order to provide space for storytelling and promote community healing. The project also aimed to highlight the parallels, intimacies, and possibilities for solidarity between Asian/Pacific/Americans and the communities that are most impacted by these seismic shifts in our history.
The A/P/A Voices Collection is in transfer to the NYU Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. A finding aid for the collection is in process.