Women in Animation Stands With Asian Friends and Family in "Defiance to the Blatant Racist Swell"

WIA president Marge Dean also addresses animation business changes — "virtual pipeline becoming an industry standard" — since the coronavirus pandemic began, in a letter to members and the community.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Women in Animation stands against a recent "racist swell" toward people of Asian descent, asserted Marge Dean, president of the nonprofit, in a letter to members and the community.

Noting that some are "using the pandemic to spread racism and hatred toward people of Asian descent," Dean wrote, "In the spirt of inclusion and solidarity, it's really important to pay attention to this other sickness that's spreading. WIA stands with our Asian friends and family in defiance to the blatant racist swell and I ask you to recognize and interrupt it in your day to day life. Abuse and xenophobia is unacceptable always and completely. If we stand for women then we stand for all people."

She added, "We need to protect our social and cultural health as well. Stay connected and supportive of each other regardless of gender, sexuality or race."

Dean also used the letter to comment on the changing state of the animation business, specifically how remote working has developed and increased because of COVID-19. "There are certain steps that still require in-person contact but I believe it is just a matter of weeks before we figure out how to do those from afar as well," she wrote. "Although there have been productions in the past done with artists working remotely, we are now seeing the virtual pipeline becoming an industry standard.

She added that normalizing these work-from-home setups could be a "boon" for mothers "that would have taken a long time to happen in pre-pandemic days; if at all."

The complete text of the letter follows:

Dear Friends of Women in Animation (WIA),

I’m not going to tell you to wash your hands; I think you’ve heard that enough. We’ve all been barraged with endless emails from every organization and company with which we’re associated that contains advice and wishes for good health. You probably are an expert now on Covid-19, what are the symptoms, how long is the incubation period, how do you disinfect your home, family and self.

Our lives have been turned upside down to where it’s hard to recognize ourselves anymore. Because of my age and health challenges, I am completely sequestered. I have people buying me groceries, mailing packages to my kid and not petting my adorable little dog (who’s very confused by the whole thing). I am a fiercely self-reliant woman who has pretty much fended for herself all of her adult life and it is weird to now have other people doing basic things for me. The pandemic is teaching me an important lesson of being open and receptive to care from others. But this is true for all of us. Covid-19 is opening our eyes to a different kind of life.

It’s taken a pandemic to make the waters in the Venice canals beautiful again or to make the air in China clean again. In my own neighborhood, I see families strolling up and down the street walking their dogs and pushing strollers. People are cooking and eating at home and having lots of family time. Everyone is learning how to manage the intersection of family and work on a much more intimate level. Interestingly, they are having to develop the skills that working moms have honed for decades.

In animation, we are seeing our industry changing right before our eyes. Because of Covid-19, we are moving into a workable virtual studio pipeline. There are certain steps that still require in-person contact but I believe it is just a matter of weeks before we figure out how to do those from afar as well. Although there have been productions in the past done with artists working remotely, we are now seeing the virtual pipeline becoming an industry standard. Normalizing a work-from-home pipeline could be a boon for mothers by making it easier to balance work and family – a change that would have taken a long time to happen in pre-pandemic days; if at all.

The Safer at Home order has forced WIA to look at our programs and to convert them into virtual resources. In the immediate timeframe, we have canceled or postponed all in-person events until further notice but we want to honor that community is at the heart of WIA’s advocacy and mission. We know that technology has the potential to bring us together across vast distances. In order to respond to the new challenges posed to our existing content and programmatic models, WIA will launch a series of virtual adaptations to engage both our members and the larger animation community. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as our team rolls out a variety of new and extended opportunities for virtual engagement. This effort will be the basis of the WIA virtual community and will continue beyond the end of the pandemic.

As you may recall, when our world was rocked in 2017 with the Weinstein and subsequent other harassment scandals, WIA created a resource page to support our members. Once again, we are setting up a page for folks working at home or unfortunately at home but not working. It will be regularly updated with financial relief resources, tips for mental health, ways to strengthen our digital community and more. This time we’ve added a feature where you can submit resources for the board as well. If you have found any particular ones helpful to you during this unprecedented time, those may also help others. We encourage you to submit your ideas to the list for review and inclusion.

Necessity is making us learn new approaches to living as well as understand the world and our connection to it differently. The most important insight that we are being forced to look at and understand is the deep interconnectedness of all human beings. The fact that the only recourse we have against the Covid-19 at this time is social distancing ironically shows us how truly interdependent we are. We breathe the same air, touch the same surfaces and get sick by the same virus. We are more alike than we are different.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”. We’ve seen firsthand that one person not taking the impact of Covid-19 seriously could and will impact those around them and beyond. Our daily lives are now driven by this reality. And hopefully driven by it enough for us to remember that connectivity when the pandemic is over.

The full quote from Dr. King is:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

We are seeing this today by some who are using the pandemic to spread racism and hatred toward people of Asian descent. There is story after story of people being spit on, beat up, yelled at and chased just because they are Asian. One person interviewed said, “I feel like I’m being invaded by hatred. It’s everywhere. Its silent. It’s as deadly as this disease”

It IS as deadly and insidious. Older Asian parents are not allowed to go alone to the grocery stores for fear of harm; there is a Facebook group for Asian folks in NY that was formed to pair up people so that they can ride on public transit safely. An Asian father was beat up in front of his 10-year-old child. The stories are endless, growing and horrifying.

In a spirit of inclusion and solidarity, it’s really important to pay attention to this other sickness that’s spreading. WIA stands with our Asian friends and family in defiance to the blatant racist swell and I ask you to recognize and interrupt it in your day to day life. Abuse and xenophobia is unacceptable always and completely. If we stand for women then we stand for all people.

With social distancing, we are coming together to preserve life and maintain health. We need to protect our social and cultural health as well. Stay connected and supportive of each other regardless of gender, sexuality, or race.

Sincerely,

Marge Dean
President, Women in Animation