We have been taking the past few days to try and process the tragic and unforgivable events that happened on March 16, 2021. For us and our families, it’s a reminder that being Asian-American today could mean you’ll be targeted for the way you look. But for the families and friends of those who passed away, it’s a void that may never be full again.
So first, we would like to remember and honor the victims and their families:
Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez
Paul Andre Michels
Soon Chung Park
Yong Ae Yue
Statements from DeclarASIAN Co-Founders:
Carina Sun: "I live with my Chinese-American immigrant parents and my grandparents. I never used to worry about my own life or my parents’ when we’d go to the grocery store, or the mall, or the city. But now, I do. Every week when my mom goes grocery shopping, I get so scared. I remember the time a security guard didn’t let her in because she was Chinese, and she came home without buying anything that day. I remember when my grandpa went fishing, and was being taunted by a truck full of white men. He couldn’t understand them, so he just smiled and nodded. I remember all the times I was made fun of for having small eyes, being called slurs, given side-glances by strangers.
I’m scared everyday for the safety of my family and my friends, who are targeted solely for the color of their skin. And it’s so sad and awful that this is our reality. The statistics that invade my mind when I leave my house: 150% increase in Asian-American hate crimes in the past year, 1900% in NYC. These may even be undercounted due to the many hate crimes that go unreported. This cannot keep happening, and it is up to us to continue fighting for our community and condemning these crimes."
Claire Cao: "It is deeply concerning to me that #StopAsianHate was a cause my non-Asian friends only began to advocate once a terrible headline-making incident occurred and aesthetically pleasing infographics were made about it. This was truly the first time, I believe, since DeclarASIAN’s founding in 2017 that Asians were not the only ones speaking up for themselves. At many times in the past few years, I have felt like we’ve been hitting a dead end— how can we really make people care or make a tangible difference? How can Asians make real progress if we are the only ones looking out for ourselves while those who hold the power in our society turn a blind eye?
And of course this sweet little PSA cannot just stop performative behavior, and I realize that movements are very much dependent on marketing, but the little bit of traction the Asian activism movement has gained recently makes me hopeful that wider audiences are finally waking up to Asian realities.
Because of the model minority stereotype, Asians have never fit neatly into any easily-marketable narrative of struggle— yet the rise of Asian hate crimes has shone a glaring light upon the silent struggle they’ve endured as “perpetual foreigners” and the fight that they’ve been fighting alone. Our fight actually began long ago, from the first Asian Americans who fought against Exclusion and discriminatory citizenship laws in SCOTUS in the 1800s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in the 80s, all the way until now. And now, more than ever, is the time when Asian brothers and sisters could use others’ support the most.
After headlines disappear and even the pandemic ends, Asian hate will not— it persisted long before and will persist long after. Can we count on your support for the Asian American community to persist as well? This doesn’t necessarily have to manifest into activism, protests, and infographics— it means calling out your own friends for their micro-aggressions. It means educating the young children in your life about what tolerance is. Though it seems that Asians’ status as Americans (both legally and socially) has been repeatedly questioned throughout history, helping them is just about the most American thing you can do right now."
Here are some ways you can help:
1. Continue to spread awareness. It was amazing to see so many social media stories flooded with support for the Asian-American community these past few days, but it isn’t over yet. Asian-American hate crimes have been consistently happening for the past year – but they rarely have major news coverage. Unless we consistently condemn them and actively try to put a stop to them, they will keep happening. Share resources, share your support, share your voice.
2. Support and donate to Asian advocacy groups. Here are a few of our favorites.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Hate Is a Virus
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Mental Health Collective
Save Our Chinatowns
3. Support your local Asian-owned businesses. We can all help by reaching out to the Asian-Americans in our immediate communities, whether its classmates, teachers, restaurant owners, etc. and making them feel more welcome and secure. It’s a difficult and scary time for all Asian-Americans, and especially those who still have to go to work in the cities and run their small businesses. They are truly so, so strong. We can all do our part to make their days a little better by being there and supporting them.
4. Educate yourself. There is an alarming lack of focus on Asian-American and POC history in general in the U.S. education system. This contributes to the lack of awareness when situations like this arise. In order to become more aware, we need to start educating ourselves. Read books by Asian-American authors like Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings, or Ronald Takaki’s A Different Mirror. Or, take a look through our history lessons highlighting Asian-American history posted for AAPI National Heritage Month. If it isn’t already, make it a priority to keep yourself educated on the history and current events of Asian-Americans, because it makes all the difference.
To our readers: we truly hope you stay safe and take all the time you need to recover. The recent Atlanta shootings and the past year of non-stop Asian-American hate crimes is a lot to handle, and it takes time to process. The Asian-American community is going through a scary time right now, and we can all do our parts in coming together and supporting one another as much as possible. We are here for all of you, and hope that you and your families stay safe.
-Carina & Claire