Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Eric Byler: "Never Confuse a Single Defeat with a Final Defeat"

Dear Friends,

I wanted to thank you for joining the APA artists coalition, share some thoughts, and invite you to stay with us in the future.

Oddly, I feel liberated by this. Creative ideas are flowing again. I'm ready to refocus my energy on a half-finished film that I had put on hold for eight weeks. Now that the election is over, we can all focus a little more on our career goals, our selfish goals, in concert with our hopes for the less fortunate, for the world, and for our nation.

But let’s remember, our personal goals are not entirely separate from our duty as patriots and as People of Color. History has shown that great work can be produced during, and even inspired by tragic times. Under oppressive regimes, the voices of artists and intellectuals have been more vital, more enduring, and more effective than under democratic and free societies. This election is a reminder of a call of duty we felt in our hearts a long time ago.

There are many factors that have contributed to the collapse of the American democracy, but first in foremost, in my opinion, is the role of mainstream media. The most important pillar of our democracy is an informed electorate. Sadly, the 2004 election was decided by an uninformed, indeed misinformed, electorate. This puts you and I at the forefront in what will be a lifelong struggle to resuscitate our democracy, by altering the message sent out by the media, and contributing to an informed electorate that votes based on facts rather than faith, with humanity rather than hatred, with patriotism rather than partisanship.

This election has inspired the creation of an impressive coalition of Asian Pacific American artists and intellectuals. As our influence as “culture-makers” grows in coming years, our duty will be to provide leadership. Young Asian Pacific Americans are vitally interested, even obsessed with media issues, how we see ourselves represented, and how others perceive us. As APA artists, we are the bridge between our communities and mainstream America-- the voices that will ensure that Asian Pacific Americans are represented, heard and understood. Most importantly, they will look to us, and they will listen.

When we discuss our work in interviews, and when speak at colleges and universities, we must bring with us a unified and progressive message to share with the communities we represent. If APA scholars, filmmakers, journalists, actors, playwrights, authors, activists, and performance artists remain faithful to this duty, a new generation of informed and politically active APAs will emerge as a progressive force and decisive voting block in our democratic system. In the coming days, you will receive an email inviting you to stay with our coalition. We have more work to do. As we move forward, we must stay informed, stay active, and stay in contact with one another. Just as we collaborate in the arts, we must work together to shape and focus the message we will bring to our communities.

It should not come as a surprise that we live in difficult times. It took our nation a decade to realize the mistakes of the Vietnam War. It has taken much longer than that to come as far as we have with Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and equality under the law. Though we still have a long way to go, and though this election is a disappointing setback, we must remember that the long-term trend for this country has always been toward the good. The work we will do in coming years will ensure that, when our nation is ready to face the mistakes we’ve made, when our nation is truly ready for change, the Asian Pacific American community will also be ready to do its part.

Yours truly,
Eric Byler

Jeff Yang, Eric Byler, others liveblog on Election Night

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Tamlyn Tomita

Tamlyn Tomita, actress (Robot Stories, Come See the Paradise, The Joy Luck Club)

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Stewart David Ikeda

Stewart David Ikeda calls in from an Election Eve rally in downtown Milwaukee, where thousands brave pouring rain and low-40s temperatures.

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Marina Budhos

Marina Budhos, author (The Professor of Light, Remix)

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David Henry Hwang

Photo by Jilly Wendell
David Henry Hwang, Tony Award-winning playwright, screenwriter and author (M. Butterfly)

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Jessica Yu

Jessica Yu, Academy Award-winning filmmaker and television director ( "The West Wing," and "ER")

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Jacqueline Kim

Jacqueline Kim (charlotte sometimes, Red Doors, Volcano)

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Eric Byler, Jacqueline Kim, Cecilia Tsai and Annie Katsura Rollins at a phone bank operation...

Eric Byler and Cecilia Tsai at the Clinton rally...

Tamlyn Tomita, Greg Watanabe, Jacqueline Kim phone banking at Cheerful Restaurant in Las Vegas ...

At the Clinton rally for Kerry...

Jeff Yang

"Stay SANE"

Jeff Yang, founder of A Magazine, author Once Upon a Time in China, general manager Cultural DNA

MP3 File

At an APA rally in Las Vegas...