Red Canary Song is the only grassroots coalition of Chinese massage parlor workers in the US. They advocate and support Asian and Asian American migrant sex workers and allies. Red Canary Song began after the death of Yang Song, a massage worker in Flushing, New York, during a police raid to support her family. In 2018, it evolved into a collective to provide legal aid, medical help, access to information on claiming labor rights, and increase the agency of Asian and Asian American migrant sex workers to collectively organize and advocate for their needs in a bottom-up manner. Alongside other community groups, Red Canary Song actively fights for the decriminalization of sex work and increased protection of sex workers, as well as combats the stereotypes that feed targeted surveillance of Asian migrants by police and immigration officials. Red Canary Song is entirely volunteer-run and uses a fiscal sponsor organization to receive donations. They rely on crowdfunding, grassroots monetary and in-kind donations, and fundraisers to propel their projects. In the wake of the 2021 Atlanta Spa Shootings in the US, Red Canary Song received a major uptick in small-donor donations, and the charity organization Project Voice Fund launched a donation matching challenge to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Theory of Change
Community awareness building and encouragement of the collective power of migrants and sex workers, helps these groups reclaim their agency and better advocate for policing and labor policies that protect them.
Red Canary Song provides legal, medical, employment, and immigration aid and funding for Asian and migrant sex workers in need. They run a Women’s Migrant Resource Network that features a language exchange, drop-in outreach meetings, and discussions on labor conditions. They provide resources for free mobile medical care and access to legal aid. They support sex worker-led programming, including art exhibits, vigils, and bystander intervention training. For example, Red Canary Song staged an installation as part of the Sex Workers Pop Up Art Show to showcase the organization’s history in street-based organizing and vision for the future.
Red Canary Song’s community activism has placed pressure on lawmakers to improve social conditions for migrant workers, decriminalize sex work, repeal FOSTA/SESTA trafficking legislation in the US that strips sex workers of protection, and reduce policing and profiling of Asian and Asian American massage and sex workers. Following the March 2021 Atlanta Spa Shooting, they held a vigil to support Asian massage and sex workers with over 20,000 participants and speakers from the New York State legislature.