People of color make up almost 70% of New York, but ethnic neighborhoods, like Manhattan’s Chinatown, are sometimes seen as exotic, abject spaces. What if we thought of them instead as alternative publics—spaces that disrupt the territorial edges of the rest of the city? For the Asian American Writers’ Workshop‘s final 2014 installation of The Counterculturalists, we focus on the urban spaces of color from Chinatown and the Lower East Side to Harlem and Queens.
Film director Charlie Ahearn—the director of the legendary hip-hop/graffiti film Wild Style—will introduce and screen his short film about seminal Asian American queer painter Martin Wong. Influenced by both the 1980s East Village art scene and graffiti, spanning Nuyorican LES and Manhattan Chinatown and the Haight-Ashbury, Wong was “a painter whose meticulous visionary realism… was as culturally complex as his appearance, which was usually distinguished by a Fu Manchu mustache and a cowboy hat” (New York Times).
Yasmin Ramirez—a research associate at the Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos, Hunter College—discusses the Nuyorican movement and the Young Lords.
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts—the author of Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America—will set up a pop-up version of BLACKNUSS, her Harlem-based mobile bookstore.
Open City Fellows Humera Afridi and Tanwi Nandini Islam discuss their work writing about communities of color for AAWW’s Open City magazine.