The invisibilization of Khmer and Southeast Asian communities poses harm to our collective community. At the same time, we are also working to address health disparities, food insecurity, inability to afford basic needs, rent insecurity, economic vulnerability, and violence against our most vulnerable elderly populations who are Asian/Southeast Asian Americans. The problem is a systemic and structural issue that spans centuries of invalidation, marginalization, and “othering” of Asian/Southeast Asian Americans.
We have seen a huge influx of hate and bias crimes, sentiments, and attitudes against Asian/Southeast Asian Americans in the past two years since the pinnacle of the Trump Administration’s failure to address the pandemic. So many of us have witnessed the deterioration of logic, rationale, and decency in American politics and civil society. When Trump termed COVID-19 the “kung flu” and the “China virus,” it led to an uptick of anti-Asian/Southeast Asian American hate and bias, primarily instigated by right-wing and hate groups.
What I am here to share with you is the harm that is caused by further alienating and hyper-marginalizing Southeast Asian Americans into terrorizing pandemic invisibility, and stories about what a few of our community coalitions and organizations have been working on to address this issue.
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
NAPCA Launches Anonymous Online Reporting of Anti-Asian Violence Against AAPI Community
On Saturday, Sept. 4, the National Asian Pacific Center of Aging (NAPCA), a national nonprofit that “preserves and promotes the dignity, well-being, and quality of life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and diverse older adults,” launched an online anonymous form to help report incidents of violence against older members of the AAPI community. Their “in-language online report form” will be available in 29 AAPI languages, and the data collected will be used, they say, to gauge incidents of anti-Asian violence nationwide to help inform policy makers and community leaders.
From NAPCA: “According to a nationwide survey of AAPI adults conducted by NAPCA and its community partners (COMPASS Study, March 2021), 3 in 5 surveyed had experienced discrimination during the height of the pandemic. Yet due to factors such as language barriers and a cultural reluctance to report crimes, data on the scope and reach of violence have been inconsistent and imprecise.
“NAPCA has independently tracked 94 reported incidents of violence against AAPI adults ages 50 and older since February 2020, with 16 deaths and three people critically injured. The number of attacks against Asians is widely believed to be underreported due to cultural reluctance with many older adults being limited English proficient and anxious about involving law enforcement.
“With this anonymous in-language form, we are urging community members to come forward and report the violence they have been either victim or witness to, detailing their accounts in order to better grasp what has been unfolding.” Joon Bang, president and CEO of NAPCA
It is a pleasure to present essays from Mercer Middle School. These students took a journalism class and want to learn more about social justice causes and ways they can make a difference, which comes through in their writing. When they wrote these articles, they were learning about why journalism matters and why it’s important.
The Atlanta mass shooting that killed eight people, six of them Asian women, along with the increase in violent attacks since Trump named COVID “the China virus” have heightened calls for solidarity between the Asian and African American communities. Coming less than a year after the worldwide protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, this is a time when the shared interests of both communities have never been greater or more clear. And the relationship between the two communities and how their civil rights movements can interact and strengthen each other are more important than ever. Equitable solutions to their shared interests would seem to naturally include sharing the considerable talents and gifts among the two groups.
(This article is co-published with The Seattle Times.)
Listening to Lynda Wolff, I want to roar at the world to remember her murdered son’s life. Four years ago, Latrel Williams was shot multiple times while returning to his Lakeridge home.
In the aftermath of his death, I spotted no signs at marches acknowledging his life, no public speeches given in his honor, and no politicians furiously spouting his name to earn social justice merits.
But Lynda still lost a son. Latrel Jr. (LJ) lost a father. And I lost a friend.
The first major local protest ignited by the murder of George Floyd swelled in downtown Seattle and started exhibiting elements of violence. It seemed almost predictable when the flummoxed police force began funneling the mostly white crowd of vandals south. Already in coronavirus lockdown, Lei Ann Shiramizu watched it all unfold on television.
Reports Shiramizu heard about police tactics indicated the group was being herded straight into the Chinatown-International District (C-ID). The mounting images being beamed to the public, of busted windows and other forms of vandalism, were like zaps to her psyche.
“My baby is out there,” was the urgent thought that crossed her mind.
Since the beginning of the year, Asian Americans have come increasingly under violent attack. Elders have been assaulted in Chinatowns across the country from Oakland to San Francisco to New York City. In late February, Inglemoor High School Japanese teacher Noriko Nasu and her boyfriend were walking through Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) and were attacked without provocation. Nasu was knocked unconscious, and her boyfriend required eight stitches. Asian American community members in Seattle had already been experiencing racial slurs and aggression at increased rates since COVID-19 began in 2020. Then, last week, a 21-year-old white man murdered 8 people at massage parlors 30 miles apart in Atlanta. Six of the victims were Asian women. The businesses were Asian owned.
For the second time this month, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their allies gathered at Hing Hay Park in Chinatown-International District (CID) to protest the rise in anti-Asian hate in Seattle and across the U.S. This time, protesters came together in response to the Atlanta shootings on Tuesday which took the lives of eight people, six of whom were Asian women: Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels were also killed in the shooting. Saturday’s midday rally at Hing Hay Park, “Kids vs. Racism,” was organized by 10-year-old Seneca Nguyễn (Tia Nguyen), a fifth grader at Louisa Boren STEM K-8. Nguyen wanted to take a stand by organizing and amplifying a youth message against hate. He felt it was important to hold the protest in the CID. Dozens of children, youth, and young people were in attendance.
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Hundreds showed up for a community organized rally and march “We Are Not Silent” in Hing Hay Park this weekend, on Saturday, March 13. Protestors gathered to condemn the recent spike in anti-Asian violence nationwide, including the assault of Noriko Nasu, a Japanese language high school teacher, last month in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID). The crowd listened to heartfelt words from youth speakers, community leaders and elders, former and currently elected officials, before marching through the CID to Little Saigon and back to Hing Hay Park.