Like many others across the country and throughout our city, I’ve been hurting. The senseless slaughter of 8 innocent people in Georgia last week, 6 of whom were Asian women, has weighed heavily on my heart, and I’ve been struggling to come to terms with their deaths. What’s more, while the City has collectively mourned the loss of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, and Paul Andre Michels, New York City also recorded 5 new attacks on individuals of Asian descent last weekend alone.
I want to be clear: hate and bigotry against the Asian American community is nothing new. Our country was founded upon it. From the abuse and exploitation of Chinese immigrants to build the transcontinental railroad, to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans, our nation’s history and social systems are founded on anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment.
The pandemic has only further intensified the undercurrents of racism in our city and country at large — the unemployment rate amongst Asian Americans has gone from 3.4% to 25.6%, the largest increase among all major racial groups. Vandalism, arson, and brutal attacks have taken place in Asian American neighborhoods across the country, including New York City. And despite Asian Americans comprising 14% of New York City’s total population, Asian American community organizations received only 1.4% of the total value of New York City’s social service contracts.
I grew up visiting one of the Japanese internment camps in the California desert where my family was held. My parents never wanted my siblings and I to forget how our country had treated Japanese Americans, or how hate could devastate generations of lives.
It has never been more clear to me as to where we must go from here: we have no choice but to collectively work to dismantle systems that have long devalued Asian American and immigrant voices. From the grassroots to the heights of our legislature, we need representation, and we need action.
I’d like to ask for your help. We must unite, raise awareness, and continue amplifying the voices of the AAPI community. Here are a few steps you can take:
- Donate to the families and victims of the March 16th shootings
- Report hate incidents to Stop AAPI Hate
- Join a Bystander Intervention Training or a solidarity community safety training
I am incredibly grateful for your support, solidarity, and resolve to help uplift AAPI voices. I have to believe that we can and will do better and honor those whom we’ve lost by ensuring their memory brings about change.