Fly in Power spotlights the work of Asian migrant massage and sex workers of Red Canary Song (RCS), a mutual aid, abolitionist collective based in Flushing, NYC. FIP centers the narratives of Charlotte (a Korean massage worker/poet), Khokhoi (body/sexworker/healer), and Prof. Elena Shih (Brown University, global human trafficking researcher). The intention of the film is to honor their practices of care, autonomy, and survival and to raise awareness of the oppressive systems that face them.
Along with Yoon Grace Ra, I have been filming and organizing with RCS after the vigil that honored Yang Song, a Chinese migrant massage worker who fell to her death during a police raid in 2017; our documentation continued through the pandemic and the fatal shootings targeting Asian massage workers in Atlanta 2022, to the present.
We have been filming and producing on a budget afforded by generous grants from the Asian Womens Giving Circle and NYWFT, but FIP is now in need of more funds to finish post production (sound, language translations, fine tuned picture lock, graphics) and to launch a February screening for our communities in Flushing, Queens.
*This film has been produced entirely by women,non-binary, trans and queers of the Asian diaspora-- more than half of the production team are former sex workers.
DECRIM MASSAGE BILL CAMPAIGN:
Red Canary Song (RCS) is continuing its advocacy campaign on the Massage License Decriminalization Act (A8281 Gonzalez-Rojas), urging the state to swiftly pass A8281 to eliminate the criminalization of workers who are simply trying to make ends meet.
Red Canary Song and coalition partners urge the state legislature to pass the Massage License Decriminalization Act. Unlicensed massage is one of the few professions in New York where workers are arrested for trying to make a living. Attaining a license in the U.S. is impossible for many workers due to high expenses, education, language access, and needing the money immediately rather than waiting to meet the numerous requirements for licensure.
In the U.S., Asian American and Asian migrants make up a large part of the workforce in the beauty industry and care work, from nail salons, spas, massage treatments, and homecare. Massage workers often choose this job over nail salon work or restaurant work because it is the better financial option. The specific targeting of massage licenses and massage workers is part of the historic, systemic racism that Asian Americans and Asian migrants experience.
Along with legal aid organizations, civil rights groups, elected officials and directly impacted workers, Red Canary Song will call for the swift passage of A8281 and implementation of these necessary reforms to create a more equitable and humane justice system for workers.
More than 90 percent of those arrested under these statutes are Asian women. The majority of those arrested are noncitizens.
**It is VITAL to give MASSAGE WORKERS a platform to SPEAK THEIR TRUTH**
Remembering Yang Song:
Sound Off Commemorates the 5th Anniversary of a Life Lost
Abolitionist musical collective Sound Off: Music for Bail performs the music of Asian and African-American composers in collaboration with Asian-led workers’ rights group Red Canary Song in a sonic memorial.
This November 19th at 7 PM EST, Sound Off: Music for Bail presents a concert at the People’s Forum, featuring string quartet music in support of Red Canary Song, a NYC-based massage workers’ collective formed in 2017 that received renewed attention in the wake of the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings that targeted vulnerable Asian women. In their own words, Red Canary Song “began [their] organizing in a fight for justice and police accountability after the death of Flushing massage worker Yang Song, who was killed during a police raid in November 2017. [It] started as a project to provide legal support for her family and help her mother pay for healthcare expenses.”
Among the musical selections will include Wu Man’s “Muqaddima” (English: Introduction), a free arrangement and tribute to Uyghur music from Xinjiang, Rhiannon Gidden’s “At The Purchaser’s Option”, a piece inspired by the composer finding an antebellum-era advertisement for a 22-year old enslaved woman and also her 9-month child “at the purchaser’s option”, and Dai Wei’s “Partial Men”, a thought-provoking electroacoustic meditation written after her mother received an organ donation. Wei, who was named one of the Washington Post’s “22 for ‘22” composers and performers to watch this year, will join Sound Off in the performance of her work.
Sound Off: Music for Bail is a collective of musicians, activists, and thinkers dedicated to combining music performance with educational work that envisions alternatives to the current state of policing and imprisonment in the U.S. Their online programming includes free and low-cost instrument workshops, masterclasses with expert musicians, and concerts that raise funds for cash bail across the country.
For concert and ticket information, please visit the event page HERE.
Red Canary Song needs your continued support to provide access to health care, legal assistance, mutual aid, and advocacy of policy for Asian migrant sex and massage workers.
Any amount assists our work.