Joseph Guay is a multimedia artist whose installations reflect his response to terrorism, school violence, police brutality, mass shootings and social justice issues. His steel, rebar and concrete monolith, The Wall (2017), in West Midtown, was created to trigger community engagement and conversation in response to the rise in anti-immigration rhetoric.
I had to stop and think about the outcome when I was asked to share my thoughts about Asian hate crimes in America. Would my comments help or hurt anyone? Would my experiences add any insight on anything? Who should care what I say at all? I am not Asian. I have not been discriminated against. I am a White man living in America. But I can say with complete conviction that I am ashamed of what that is today.
I am very thankful that I was not raised in a racist household. I was not taught to hate a person due to the pigmentation of their skin. It is amazing that our body naturally creates melanin in our skin to protect us from the amount of UV light and radiation we are exposed to on Earth and regulate the level of vitamin D and folate in our body. Yet somehow we have taken this incredible protective mechanism and turned it into a destructive thought pattern to hate, discriminate and enslave one another. I have friends from all areas of the globe, and their beautiful differences have made me a more connected individual to this human experience. They have all shown me their beliefs and opened my eyes to understand what it really means to become “one.”
I share every moment of my life with someone who is Asian American (I say that in case you need a label). But I do not see us as an interracial couple. I only see us as two people who have found a way to be one. We are connected and share our experiences as one.
This photo was taken in NYC when we visited the Strawberry Fields memorial that Yoko Ono dedicated to John Lennon, a White man from Liverpool whom she loved. I stood there as a White man with an Asian woman whom I love. As we stood there reading the word “IMAGINE” on the sidewalk, I thought about John and Yoko’s mission and the words in the song “Imagine.” It all seemed so simple and at the same time so far from our reality. I took this photo because I hope one day we can look back and realize the words of his song have come true.