In the Same Breath recounts the experiences of people during the initial spread of the novel coronavirus across two countries: China and the United States. Its spread has affected everyone, and particularly Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities within the U.S., in a unique way. With these photo essays, AAPI photographers across the U.S. took to the streets to capture a small slice of what pandemic life has been like for their respective communities, reflecting the daily life, joys, and fears experienced by AAPIs.

San Francisco, CA

For this series, I asked people about their best and worst realizations during the pandemic and paired them with these photographs I took during the Covid-19 crisis.

For me personally, as an Asian immigrant in the United States, the pandemic made it more challenging, or more difficult for us to navigate. The rise of anti Asian xenophobia, people using the outbreak to justify racism against the AAPI community, really made a big impact in our lives. As immigrants we have this idea that being able to make it here in the United States and make a decent living is enough of a reason to be silent about the racial issues we face almost on a daily basis. Sometimes I just can’t help but think that we’ve been living in isolation, even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

O’ahu, Hawaii

In one way or another, many have had an experience indirectly or directly with COVID-19… Many of my Asian brothers and sisters in the U.S. have experienced discrimination, and downright hatred because of this virus. I am blessed to be a Native Hawaiian born and raised on the west side of O’ahu, where this type of discrimination is unacceptable. We are a melting pot of cultures that share with one another, whether that is cuisine, language, or just each other’s company.

These photos give a glimpse into Hawai’i during the pandemic. With so much chaos going on in the world, it was beautiful to witness our ecosystem heal and get some relief from over-tourism. My message here is simply kindness and respect for one another no matter where you come from. We are all in this together!

New York, NY

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, racism and violence against AAPI people have escalated at alarming rates. AAPIs have endured a spike in assault, abuse, harassment, and murder. In response, the Stop Asian Hate movement was born. People from around the country organized protests, actions, and community building to stand in solidarity with AAPIs.

In the Chinatown community, where businesses and people were hit the hardest from the very beginning of the pandemic, there are organizers and leaders working to make a difference, bringing food, music, art, support, and joy to the people. Building community and relationships in Chinatown has also been so rewarding for me and I am so inspired by these incredible leaders. Photographing the protests and the community is a way for me to preserve our history so that we never forget what we went through and our struggle to survive in this country.

Seattle, WA

Mostly captured in the center of Seattle’s AAPI community, known as the Chinatown-International District, this is a collection of Asian America’s daily life after the pandemic through my lens. Being born in Tokyo and spending nearly a decade of my life in Shanghai, I quickly realized how different the Asian people’s life is here in the U.S, in a good way. The sense of Asian culture is surprisingly well-preserved, despite them living in a western country far from their origin, but at the same time, they were less “Asian” to me.

I’m always looking for a variety of contrasts in my photography, and I find this specific contrast, Asian American, fascinating and photogenic.

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