Friday, October 16, 2015

Phoenix Rising - Five Years In Atlanta - Failing Forward, Revelations, Lessons Learned

Trigger warning: Sexual Assault

ATL is poppin' y'all!  Yes indeed.  I went to the Organized Noize exhibition at Gallery 72 last night, part of Elevate 2015 - Forever I Love Atlanta curated by Atlanta's own Fahamu Pecou. The gallery was packed with members of Dungeon Family, affiliates, and fans.  The retrospective of the music collective's history kicks off this year's festivities followed by a block party tonight. Yee!

Five years ago last week, I moved back to Atlanta from LA.  The city was foreign to me with new construction, businesses, restaurants, night-life, and so much more.  In truth, I wasn't excited to be back at all. 

Out of the six galleries that represented me nationally, three went out of business and two still owe me money.  Yes, I'd fallen on my face pretty hard. But I was excited to reconnect with the art community that I so dearly loved, with old friends from college, and exploring this "new" city while revisiting Southern roots.  After all, I am an authentic "Southern Asian" raised in the Deep South.

Boy was I in for more than a few surprises.  The community that I left, was certainly not the same community that I returned home to.  Valuing kindness and sincerity, having others' best interest in mind is how I live my life. 

I didn't understand why folks I had such wonderful memories with would be so snarky to me.  I cared about them.  I missed them while I was away in California.  Did I do something that I ought to apologize for? I couldn't think of anything.  Did I offend them somehow? Not that I know of.

Someone once told me, "Bunny, as you grow your career it's not that you will change, but the people around you that will change." So true.  They did.  They hated me. Well, the ones that turned into jealous, envious, unrecognizable haters certainly changed.  

I didn't know who they were anymore. Certainly not the people I had such wonderful memories with.  What was clear, was that they no longer had good intentions for me. So I responded accordingly by hopping away permanently.    

Doing this cleared my life of negativity and fake people, which allowed room for more like-minded people. I was able to focus more on the long-term friendships that are meaningful to me, after having clarity of which friendships to invest in.  

So much has happened.  A lot of good stuff, a lot of bad stuff. Then a lot more bad stuff that I've turned into good stuff.  Life is really about how to turn doo doo into gold right BunBuns?! I've been consistently active with my art, for the most part really operating with "no box". Feeling truly unlimited with the possibilities.  

It took two years to come full circle after I was sexually assaulted.  To heal from the immediate trauma of the incident itself, and be able to digest that some of the closest people I confided in blamed me. It took six weeks before I was able to say the word "rape".  Before that I was afraid to leave the house to even walk my dog, Bebe.  I remember being curled up in fetal position in my bed, unable to move for weeks. Just completely catatonic.  Freaked out whether my rapist had given me HIV, I had to wait three months before the tests would give a 99% accurate reading.  I was pro-active about my healing, including getting professional counseling and medication. I'm no longer in counseling nor taking medication, but considering group therapy as part of my continuous healing.   

Every time I speak on this, I'm encouraging a survivor to also speak, to be one step closer to liberating herself / himself.  I have absolutely NO SHAME in sharing this. As a society, we can't afford to make the subject of rape taboo. The act itself is what's taboo; furthermore our ignorance and reluctance to rectify the problem with efficient solutions is what's really unacceptably taboo.  

I choose to be inspired by what happened to me.  Yah, I went through some serious adversities, but I flexed my mental toughness muscles and strengthened them.  Without it, the YeeQuality Movement wouldn't have come together.  Now I'm compelled to find a viable solution through the help of community to bring justice to survivors of acquaintance rape. Of course I'm scared but the regret that I'll have when I'm old, laying on my deathbed will be much greater than the fear I feel now if I don't take action. 

"Art" can be anything.  Art inspires people, evokes, impacts, stimulates, can serve as a muse for innovation, or be a source of comfort and healing. Why does it have to be 2D, 3D, video, film, or some other solid medium?  Could art not be an impactful social movement lead by creatives that fulfills a dire social need? This activism IS the artistic process. In finding a solution, the art is completed.  Until then, it's process.  

I LOVE TO FAIL.  Right now my mind is limitless, so I'm willing to try things for the sake of it just to see what the end result will be.  Trying is winning.  The end result is an answer to the exploration, not necessarily failure (even if the results are disappointing). 

I look forward to "failing" as long as I implement well thought out plans.  Because I'm after that end result. The end result is the data I need to make my next moves.  Not gonna lie, I failed a lot this year. I made a bunch of moves that didn't yield the results I wanted. But I have all this data to work with, so I know exactly what I need to do to keep it moving.

Everything I need to do, is right here in ATL or accessible from ATL. Our city is beautiful, robust, and booming. Now that I've let go of unhealthy influences and relationships, I give myself permission to let go and surrender. 

I love you ATL, and can't wait to see what we do together...   

Call To Action For Solution Regarding Acquaintance Rape - Please Share

Trigger warning: Rape
BunBuns, when God grants you your destiny, it may take a 
little time to digest and accept it. This week I accepted a 
challenge from God that took a lot of deliberation to accept, but
there's a sense of knowing that I MUST do it.

When I was raped on July 1, 2013 I thought "I'll be content to just file a police report and move on with my life". The District Attorney's office told me I didn't have enough evidence for them to press charges, so my case is closed. The nurses that performed my sexual assault exam said, "Yun, from what you've told us your rapist has done this before, he came with the intention of raping you, and he will do it again." My rapist is walking the streets ATL, he is out there and he roams free. Who will his next victim be, someone you know and love?

This understanding that my rapist, and many like him are roaming the streets here in America raping women repeatedly and the law can't touch him hit a nerve. I think of all my sisters that have been raped under similar circumstances and the laws don't give us justice. Society blames us, the victims, in turn causing the majority of us to be silent. One of my best friends I reached out to for support told me I was "disgusting".

Filing the police report knowing my rapist is out there raping repeatedly didn't satisfy me. This adversity motivated me to start a social movement to raise awareness on the importance of men supporting women and helping to alleviate the challenges that women face. The ball fell organically, in Hiphop.

I'd met Big Rube and Rico Wade of Dungeon Family years ago through a fateful chance meeting, not knowing who I was meeting. DJ Jelly and I met on Twitter and I didn't know who he was either. A friend asked me to look after the merchandise table at a hiphop show and that's how I met Yamin Semali, trying to charge him for his own CD at his own show because I wasn't aware he was the artist on the CD. 

After I was raped, I reached out to Big Rube and DJ Jelly for support. Not only were they there with their encouraging words and presence, a few months later DJ Jelly asked me in the most caring encouraging way possible "Yun you know you have to go public about this right?" I was horrified about the thought. No way, how could I ever go public about this awful experience? One of my best friends told me I was disgusting, I was berated by others that it was a huge mistake to have gone to the police, that if my case went to trial my art career would be over. If those who I thought were my friends reacted like this, how could I ever tell the world?

Two years later on July 1, 2015, I did it. I released a YouTube video sharing my experience. My brothers Big Rube, Rico Wade, DJ Jelly, and Yamin Semali and I kicked off the #YeeQuality Movement, a movement encouraging men to support women as part of strong male leadership. We are all learning and evolving as we raise our own awareness of the gender wage gap, domestic violence, rape, discrimination, etc.

But this week, I told myself that it's still not enough. Thinking of the millions of women, men, and transgendered who have been told, "There's insufficient evidence, the case is closed"- is simply not an unacceptable answer anymore. It isn't.

70% of rapes are done by someone the victim knows and has earned their trust. Which means all the rapist has to say is it was consensual and the rapist walks free, allowing him to be out there raping repeatedly over and over.

This is a CALL TO ACTION to victims, law-makers, politicians, leaders of non-profits, and anyone who feels we need to begin this conversation in seeking effective solutions regarding (specifically), acquaintance rape. It is a gray area that our current legal system fails to provide the majority of rape victims justice.

In finding an effective solution to this gray area, we will also find the solution to address the majority of rapes in our country. If we do not begin the conversation now, if victims continue to be repressed into silence because of stigma, nothing will change. The laws won't change if victims are not heard. Rapists face no consequences because we as a society allow them to get away with it. We allow it by brushing it under the rug, not being aware, remaining silent, and blaming the victim.

If we build a brain trust of phenomenal minds and expertise, we can come up with HOW acquaintance rape can be proven in a court of law, propose solutions and have laws put in place in all 50 states.  

Since America is land of the free and home of the brave, let us free the millions of victims who are shamed and repressed into silence, and let us be brave in having this uncomfortable but necessary conversation for a better America.

Please share this post, my email is I look forward to hearing from you.

A big heartfelt thank you to the Pillars of the YeeQuality Movement for being the amazing leaders that you are, and all the friends that stood by me throughout the healing process with your continued support and encouragement.  Let us come together so we can turn pain into light that will liberate millions.

- YUN BAI aka YunnyBunny 
Visual Artist & Activist

Monday, September 7, 2015

My "Bun Life" Vision Board, Feeling Free

Haha so I titled my vision board "Bun Life", a spoof off "Thug Life".  lol Every time I look at my vision board I feel peaceful, lifted, happy. A sense of knowing, certainty. Life is absolute.

In October, I celebrate 5 yrs of my return to Atlanta from LA.

It's exciting to share, I've completely gone off the deep end in the BEST of ways!

Planting seeds, making moves, doing things that really scare me. Pioneering, exploring different business models, learning how to scale my art practice, discovering and implementing the Blue Ocean Strategy.

A lot of folks told me I was crazy to leave all 6 galleries that represented me. In fact, there was a lot of opposition, side-eyes, put-downs. But being represented by 6 galleries wasn't getting me where I wanted to be (gallerists heavily discounting my work and splitting an additional 50%, not getting paid, gallerists taking off with work, etc.). It's flattering to have 29 more galleries that want to show my work, but what's the point of working with galleries if they have control over how your work is sold as your sole avenue of distribution? Forget ROI. The risk assessment alone was too risky for me to try to earn a profit as an artist.

So I jumped ship into the deep end of the Blue Ocean and never looked back. Why did I do this? Because I didn't want to quit. God gave me a much bigger vision and destiny for myself than the little box galleries wanted me to fit into.

In doing so, I FREED myself. From the bullying haggling collectors that threatened to "destroy my career" if I didn't give them a bigger discount. From the gallerists and I arguing about discounting my work heavily to meet the affordability of their small collector base. In holding off on showing with galleries, I was able to discover other ways to distribute my work.

I FEEL SO FREE. To make and sell art on my terms to a global marketplace from Atlanta. It's brought me back to why I became an artist in the first place- to express and be happy, to share my revelations and inspirations with those that appreciate it.

Yee, Amen!

How does your vision board make you feel when you look at it BunBuns?  Have you completed your vision board?  I procrastinated for the longest time until I took a break to finish mine and it adds so much value and motivation! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cultivating "FB Friends" Into Real Friends

We all have FaceBook "friends"  that we've never talked to, but something was cool about them that made you want to connect.  
I finally took the time to reach out to Sharon D. Meadows and sent her a quick note.  So glad I did! We were blabbing away on the phone, bonding in no time.  

In fact, she was speaking in downtown Atlanta and invited me to hear her speak.  I went and was so inspired by her story, her triumphs, as well as the wisdom the other ladies had to share. I could tell every woman in the room had some kind of priceless wisdom to teach me, oh how I wish I could sit and connect with each one!

Sharon D. Meadows is the epitome of class.  You can feel her love, support, and devotion to those she cares for when meeting her for the first time.  The biggest golden nugget during her speech was when she said, "Nothing is more powerful than a made up mind." Yee! 

I also had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Hashonah Lockett (who, by the way, has the presence of a Queen when you're around her). Dr. Lockett invited me to service at her Church in Stone Mountain and also to an event where we worked on our "vision boards".  Both experiences were incredibly uplifting, gave me new insight and rejuvenated me.

This weekend Dr. Lockette and Sharon will be speaking at "Love Your Life", an empowerment conference. I hope my BunBuns can connect with these amazing ladies.  Whenever I'm around them, I know I'm around excellent role models of the kind of woman I'd like to be.  Yee!

Connect with Sharon here:
Twitter: @SharonDMeadows

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Living An Unlimited Life - Lessons Learned, Decisions Made

My first few years in America, the beginning of a wonderful childhood growing up in Tallahassee, FL. #SouthernAsian #CountryBunny  #TBT

Today, I embrace living a truly UNLIMITED life.  Recommitting to my commitments. Feeling great about the decisions I've made when challenging crossroads presented themselves.  What are they and what have I learned?

1. Releasing myself from people who didn't value/respect/cherish me as well as those who didn't have my best interest in mind. Especially those who don't wish well for you.

The more I learned to love myself, the more I cut out those who simply didn't deserve my love, attention, friendship, support, knowledge, resources.

2. I began sharing my newfound art biz strategies with artists and art world only to be met with criticism and doubt bcuz it was so outside the box.

Regardless, today I feel so secure and confident about my art career and the direction it's headed than I've ever been. In learning new ways of thinking and allowing myself to innovate, making bold decisions and taking bigger risks is what's necessary for bigger shifts and ultimately, bigger rewards.

3. Be rock solid in what I stand for and walk the talk. As an advocate for gender equality and women's rights, artist advocate, and human rights activist, there is a dire need for all of us to learn more, do more, be more.

America is not the melting pot that we claim to be. America is a country where a lot of different types of oil and water co-exist in a pot, segregated and oblivious to each other's struggles. We must get out of our comfort zones and melt. Be aware and act for the common good.

In learning these valuable lessons and making these decisions, it's time to SHINE. To truly embrace an unlimited life and allow myself to create, innovate, contribute, and impact on an unlimited level.

I've come a long way since the little girl in this picture, and absolutely loving the woman I'm evolving into. The biggest gift I've given myself (and allowed myself) is this gift of living an unlimited life and all that it means to me.

Thank u everyone, for ur continued support of the Bunny I'm becoming. I only hope to make u more proud BunBuns!