Asian Babe Gang
Malia Hatico-Byrne, Rose Huey, Kim Ip, Melissa Lewis Wong, Aiano Nakagawa, and Nina Wu
Asian Babe Gang (ABG) aims to create what institutions have been unable to provide for us. We are resisting the exploitation of our artistry and building beyond the limitations of what we’ve been offered. We are creating our own belonging. ABG is curious about how the intellectual, interpersonal work we do within our Pan-Asian lineages transfers to our shared practices of embodiment, activism, and movement. How can we unpack the complexity of our experiences towards action, decolonization, and kinship?
Throughout the Community Engagement Residency, ABG core members will go on one planning retreat and continue their monthly meetings. ABG will build and cultivate a digitally-based community platform to connect Asian Diasporic artists, centering queer Asian belonging, to source resource sharing, and host at least one gathering for QT Asian diasporic folks.
The core members of Asian Babe Gang found each other through various dance and performance projects, which crystallized into sweeter friendships, strengthened by our shared identities. We are artists, healers, and educators. Movement and creative practice is the shared language through which we communicate, process, and deepen our connection together.
ABG aims to create generative containers for Pan-Asian/Pacific Islander American women, femmes, and gnc/trans* folks: to convene, dialogue, create, and organize around identity-centered topics. We’re committed to working in coalition with people of the global majority to actively contribute to social justice efforts led by our Black, Indigenous, and Latine comrades. This work has taken the shape of living room dialogues, shared food, and outdoor gatherings.
Photo courtesy of the artists
Header image of Malia Hatico-Byrne, Rose Huey, Kim Ip, Melissa Lewis Wong, Aiano Nakagawa, and Nina Wu. Photo courtesy of the artists.
The Black Women's Freedom Circle:
The Progression Project
Black Women’s Freedom Circle (BWFC) was conceived by author and visionary, Mia Birdsong and restorative economics practitioner, Nwamaka Agbo. They recognized an urgent need for Black women who are formally or informally involved in liberation struggles to have access to support and self-care to sustain our well-being. Tammy Johnson has been a member and co-facilitator of the Oakland-based BWFC since 2016.
The Black Women's Freedom Circle (BWFC) centers on the healing of Black women. It provides a space for Black women to breathe, reset, and assess for themselves, and dream beyond the limitations of current movement structures. BWFC is a Black-only space where Black women explore what we need, individually and collectively, to heal from historical and lived oppression and trauma; prioritize our physical, emotional, and spiritual health; and embody liberation in our daily lives as we simultaneously fight for our people’s freedom.
The goal of the Progression Project is to:
Expand - create and support more circles
Develop a toolkit
Develop somatic practices
Produce community performances and workshops
Tammy Johnson is very clear. Her life’s purpose is to be a happy Black woman. Some days that shows up as a shimmy in the middle of a workshop on racial equity, and on others it is simply a pause for breath. Johnson is a dancer, producer, culture keeper, writer, equity consultant and godmother extraordinaire. Her kinfolk in Tennessee taught her how to be a love-warrior as they fought for their right to just be as Black people. Later as a community organizer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Johnson directed living wage, welfare rights, public education and election campaigns. She has partnered with World Trust and Art / Work Practice, and spent a decade at Race Forward advancing racial justice as a national organizer, trainer, writer, policy analyst and public speaker. Johnson co-produced the television special Colorlines: Race and Economic Recovery with LinkTV, and has written for the Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post, and Colorlines.com. Johnson curated and project managed the Creatives in Place listening project and digital platform, which features the work and stories of Bay Area artists surviving gentrification and a global pandemic. As an independent consultant she has successfully brought movement and artistic wisdom to the fore with groups like The Laundromat Project and the Young Women’s Freedom Center. Johnson specializes in raks baladi, also known as Egyptian style belly dance. For over a decade Johnson and Etang Inyang performed as the award-winning duet, Raks Africa, and co-directed Girls Raks Bellydance and Body Image program. In 2016 Johnson was a recipient of Deborah Slater’s Studio 210 Residency Program. She has also performed in ChimaTEK: Hybridity Visualization Mandala, created by renowned performance visual artists Saya Woolfalk. She coproduced the 2014-2016 Resistance and Revolution series and her solo work, Aiwa! was featured in the 2017 Live Arts in Resistance at Eastside Arts Alliance. Her production company, Project Aiwa, produces performances, workshops and community-based collaborations based on the belief that there can be no true social revolution without personal and collective healing. The Oakland, California based Johnson stays true to her path by embracing work that gives her joy. Learn more at tjuniverse.com
Photo courtesy of the artist
Header image of Tammy Johnson by Robbie Sweeney