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New Voices

Soundscape #1 - A Conversation with Richard Aoki

by Harim Jung (21, they/them pronouns, CT, Korean American)

Richard Aoki (1938-2009), a key figure in Asian America, played a crucial role in the organization of the Black Panther Party, as well as the Third World Liberation Front Strikes of the San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley communities in the late 1960s. Although Aoki contributed greatly as an activist, an educator, and a leader to the POC struggle and cause, his life came to an abrupt end when he took his own life after it was revealed that he may have been an FBI informant. As we commemorate the life and legacies of the activists and heroes of the Asian American and larger POC communities, I composed this auditory piece in attempt to engage in a personal and honest conversation with Aoki. The objective of this conversation is to bridge a generational gap between Asian American activists of different eras, but fighting for the same cause and against the same systems of power. My hopes is that this project will demystify the controversy around the life of Richard Aoki, deconstruct the militant and radical stigma around the Black Panther Party and organized spaces of POC, and connect the struggles of activists in these two eras. As the Asian American community stands divided on critical issues of affirmative action, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and, more recently, the indictment of Peter Liang, it is crucial that we learn and build from the intersectional work of our predecessors, so that we do not become complicit in perpetuating violence on marginalized communities. Please listen with headphones in order to get a complete auditory experience and be immersed in this soundscape.
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