Story and Photos by:
How I Keep Looking Up, a project organized by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco (CCCSF) and created by artist and social practitioner Christine Wong Yap, came to fruition on a rainy, windy Saturday night when the immigrant women all braved the weather to complete the one and a half mile walk for this years Chinese New Year Parade.
On Feb. 4, 2023, 16 immigrant, working-class, Latina and Chinese women stood proud in rain-soaked ponchos in Downtown San Francisco. Empowered by hope, resilience, and strength, these women accomplished an enormous feat over the past eight months, a feat that included organizing, learning, and creating at the 41 Ross Gallery and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.
Led by Christine Wong Yap, Yuanyuan Zhu, and Mariachi San Francisco, the contingent was met with a mix of ecstatic spectators. While marching, the faces of Latinx spectators were confused at first, looking at the mesh of cultures, but once they heard the warm chords of guitarróns and trumpets from Mariachi San Francisco, their own gritos wailed emphatically, filling the dimly lit sky with delight and surprise of representation.
Throughout the parade, this contingent of women and supporters battled a storm of high winds and heavy rain, often having to regroup after being pummeled by the elements. Nevertheless, the group pressed forward in dance choreography to the sweet songs from the mariachi group leading the charge, while being greeted with awe from stands of onlookers.
As the contingent was nearing the finish line, they approached the Portsmouth Square Bridge, where families and loved ones waited; the women marched proudly in triumph, realizing what they had accomplished. Finally, the artists carried their flags, the embodiments of their personal journey and experience, and planted them firmly in front of their families and loved ones at the Chinese Culture Center, where they will be displayed from Feb. 7 to April 1, 2023.
To learn more about the project, read our featured story on “How I Keep Looking Up,” which was published on Nov. 3, 2022.