AAPIP in the news

Anna Deavere Smith, Award-winning Playwright-Actress, Joins AAPIP and ABFE for Special Performance and Conversation, April 29, 2012


In observance of the twentieth anniversary of the Los Angeles civil uprising following verdicts in the 1992 Rodney King case, award-winning actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith will present a feature performance of scenes from Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, the 1994 Tony Nominee for Best Play.  The session, Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Performance by Anna Deavere Smithwill focus on a complex array of issues including racial division, healing and the human condition.  This special mini-plenary session is being presented and designed by AAPIP (Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy) and ABFE (Association of Black Foundation Executives), in conjunction with the 2012 Council on Foundations Annual Conference, in Los Angeles, April 29-May 1.

The performance is scheduled for Sunday, April 29, 2012, 2:30 pm PT, at the JW Marriott–LA Live, 900 West Olympic Boulevard, Gold Ballroom 3, First Floor, in downtown Los Angeles. For more information, including seating and availability, please contact Kimi Mojica, Membership Services Manager, AAPIP, at  or (415) 273-2760.

The Los Angeles riots of 1992, the worst civil disturbance in America, exposed the deepening racial and class divisions in the U.S. While the riots were sparked by the acquittal of police officers charged with beating Rodney King, closer examination suggests it was declining income equality, a long history of police brutality and the belief that the justice system only served and protected a few which fueled anger, resentment and hopelessness that has carried on to this day.

Racial tensions between African Americans and Korean Americans were on the rise even prior to the riots.  Deep divisions rose in 1991 when a Korean grocer, Soon Ja Du, shot to death a black 15-year-old girl, Latasha Harlins, and was sentenced to five years probation. The probation angered blacks, reaffirming again that the justice system served some, but not African Americans – and the incident exposed long-held frustrations about conditions in African American communities. Moreover, at the time of the riots Korean merchants had come to own the majority of businesses in the South-Central Los Angeles, home to mainly black and Hispanic communities.  Not surprisingly, many of those businesses were targeted, and one of the most devastated areas of the city was Koreatown.

Recognizing a shared experience and history, this joint plenary session represents an opportunity for AAPIP and ABFE to better understand racial dynamics between African American and Asian American communities, and the structural conditions that led up to the civil uprising.  For both AAPIP and ABFE the focus of this program comes out of a long-standing commitment and body of work to addresses systemic racism, and the resulting issues and disparities within the philanthropic sector.