What I Learned As a First-Time Organizer of a #StopAsianHate Rally

Signs at a rally in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District on March 13, 2021. (Photo credit: University of Washington / Mimi Gan)

By Guest Contributor: Daisy H. Sim

When the news of Atlanta first hit, I just came home after canvassing for a vigil for Mycheal Johnson, a Black man who was murdered by Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) last year. The anniversary of his death was on March 20th, and I didn’t want his legacy to die. 

In that context, iIt was distressing to hear that six Asian women had been targeted for being perceived as sex workers. It was upsetting to watch as our society dehumanized these victims, while they spoke kindly to the monster who did this: iving excuses like “he had a bad day” and that he’s a “good Christian boy struggling with a sex addiction.” What made this personal for me was that this man was driving down to Florida to commit more of these crimes I can’t help but imagine that in this he meant to kill more Asian women: furthermore, the nearest city with a significant Asian American population in Long’s route south was the very city I was posting up flyers for a vigil. I felt unsafe in a way that I’ve rarely experienced. So I had to do something. Which is why I’ve decided to organize a Stop Asian Hate rally here in Tallahassee, Florida.

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Raya and the Last Dragon: a powerful story of personal, political healing

Raya and the Last Dragon movie artwork.

By Guest Contributor: Mai Nguyen Do

Note: This essay contains mild spoilers for the film ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’.

Representation isn’t just about descriptive characteristics. It’s about reflecting the complexities of lived experiences, including the dynamic, evolving nature of culture. There are aspects of Southeast Asian culture woven throughout Raya and the Last Dragon in textiles, food, spiritual practice, and so on. 

Raya’s strength, however,  is in its assertion of authenticity rather than its conformity to concepts of authenticity. Instead of attempting to conform to what are typically Western-centric or white-centric notions of what makes presentations of our cultures authentic, Raya affirmatively respects various aspects of our cultures while also building on them to create an immersive, imaginative experience that is substantively – not just descriptively – representational. From the dynamic, complex characters to small details like the fruit on a table, Raya is an incredible work that meaningfully engages with concepts of culture, conflict, representation, and justice. It’s a must-watch for everyone.

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A durian fruit, plated.

By Guest Contributor: Nam Le

“Be safe if you go outside, Ma. People in this country at this time do not like Asians. They do not care that you’re not Chinese. So just be careful.”

The text is half in English, half in Vietnamese. None of it is exactly what I want to say.

I skip over the word racism when I text Ma. It is a wrong turn into an armed minefield, a back alley of snakes and wet live wires. My cousins, better able to navigate this ground, tells me that the closest road might be through kỳ thị. Discrimination.

When I ask for directions again on Google, seeking a second opinion, it offers up phân biệt chủng tộc – a four syllable tour that passes by “separation based on race”.

But that, too, is far short of what my tongue wants to express on this Tuesday night — a truth I have always hoped my parents would never have to know: that on this side of the ocean, thunder still rolls.

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The Atlanta Shooting: A Boiling Point

People hold placards during a "Stop Asian Hate" rally, following the deadly shootings, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., March 20, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

By Guest Contributor: Wendie Yeung

Content Warnings: this article contains the author’s personal experiences facing racially charged violence.

While most of America reminisced about March as the one year anniversary since normalcy, I, like so many other Asian Americans, had been grappling with the pandemic months before that. When I heard the beginning media buzz of a mysterious new coronavirus found in Wuhan in early January of 2020, my heart sank. I knew that from that point on, my racial identity was going to become a stark liability. At the time, I was flying for work every week, and I became hyper aware on my flights and in the airport. If people looked at me, I’d wonder why (“do they think I’m from China?“), trying to read any suspicion behind their eyes. I’d smile at strangers to appear more friendly; if I was on the phone, I’d talk a little more loudly so those around me could hear that I spoke perfect English. These acts were things I did almost instinctively – protective acts so people knew that I was not a threat, that I was “American”.

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I Am An Asian American Woman

A woman looks out the window, with her back against a bed.

By Guest Contributor: San-Pei Lee

I am a woman born by a woman and so many women before. I come from a legacy of womanhood, of creation from love, the reason for both women and men on Earth.

But I can’t walk in broad daylight in the streets of Los Angeles without a man peering at me with predatory eyes and remarking that he “likes him some sweet Asian”. I can’t even walk in my own birth country without a man of my own race harassing me on the subway. Was it just an accident in the crowd? But that definitely felt like groping, lingering longer than an accidental touch. No, I can’t stay out alone late at night without the fear of adding to a statistic.

Will women ever stop being blamed for and forced to experience harassment, rape, and prostitution?

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