Sewing the Seeds of Activism in an Age of COVID-19: The Auntie Sewing Squad

Sewing the Seeds of Activism in an Age of COVID-19: The Auntie Sewing Squad

In March 2020, performance artist and comedian Kristina Wong initiated an effort with friends to sew masks for essential workers in response to the federal government’s failure to provide adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Auntie Sewing Squad rapidly grew into a national team of mask makers—mostly women of color—who sew masks for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including women’s shelters, Native American citizens living on reservations, undocumented workers, and poor communities of color. Comprised of college professors, actors, teachers, filmmakers, labor organizers, and many others, the Auntie Sewing Squad proudly “traces the lineage of this sewing to our mothers and grandmothers, immigrant and refugee communities in America, and underpaid women of color garment workers globally.” This webinar features several members of the Auntie Sewing Squad who will remark upon the group’s genesis; its place in the history of activism by, and on behalf of, communities of color; and their contributions to We Go Down Sewing, a volume focused on the activities and significance of the Auntie Sewing Squad to be published by the University of California Press in 2021. Panelists include:

  • Kristina Wong, Performance Artist, Comedian, and Founding Member of the Auntie Sewing Squad
  • Mai-Linh Hong, Assistant Professor of Literature, University of California Merced
  • Grace Yoo, Professor of Asian American Studies, San Francisco State University

Moderated by:

  • Tina Chen, Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies, Penn State

This webinar is part of the 2020-21 CALS “Unprecedented” Webinar Series“Unprecedented” is a word employed frequently by media, government officials, and lay persons alike to describe the phenomena surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Inspired by recent events and the rhetoric used to account for them, the “Unprecedented” series of one-hour webinars feature presentations and discussion by leading scholars, writers, and activists focused on better and less well-known developments in American literature and culture (and American literary and cultural studies) that might be, and in some cases have been, described as “unprecedented.” 

Virtual Event