LA Artist With Campaign to Stop Asian Hate Gets National Attention

Jonathan Chang wants to start conversations he believes still need to be had as pandemic-related Asian hate has risen in America

NBC Universal, Inc.

Jonathan Chang says he wants his portraits to grab your attention, and get you to ask questions.

Who are these people?

Why did he draw them?

Why are they going viral on social media?

"I kinda don't wanna make this about me," he said.

Chang agreed to talk to NBC, but didn't want his face shown because he wants the art to speak for itself. He wants to start conversations he believes still need to be had as pandemic-related Asian hate has risen in America.

"These are about the victims," he said.


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His portrait of Michelle Go draws you in. It's as accessible as the bright smile on her face until you discover what happened to her last week, in New York.

She was pushed in front of a train by a stranger.

"She was 40 years old and her whole life was taken from her," Chang said.

Scroll further down Chang's instagram feed and you'll see Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84.

The Thai-American was attacked in broad daylight in San Francisco a year ago.

"That really angered me," Chang said.

It was one of his first efforts on the advice of a friend. It was a way to channel his emotions into something that grabs attention and makes you think.

He's never considered himself a "fine artist," but now he uses his skills as a commercial illustrator to grab they eye.

Then he pulls your attention toward the bigger issue: these people are innocents, victimized by a narrative that too often leads to violence.

He calls his style "easily digestible." But it gets the job done.

"People comment on my posts and say, 'I had no idea this was happening. I live in the same area.'"

Days ago, the portraits appeared on the massive billboard above Times Square, part of the ongoing campaign to fight Asian hate.

"The whole Asian community, we're connected and we really do care about this," he said. "If I can at least inspire one person, that's all worth it."

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