With the recent spike of anti-Asian hate crimes across the country and one-year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings in March, some organizations are offering free bystander training and self-defense workshops for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Former Gov. Gary Locke was the keynote speaker at the October 18, 2021, Eradicate Hate Conference, which gathered hundreds of attendees at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. The event, held on a date close to the anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, brought together people and organizations from around the world that were having the most significant impact in combating hate, preventing hate crimes, and providing justice for the victims of such crimes. The following is Locke’s speech, printed in the International Examiner with permission.
This article is part of a special project between the International Examiner and the South Seattle Emerald to produce content in 2022 addressing Asian and Pacific Islander racism and resilience. This content was made possible by a grant from the Seattle Human Services Department.
Unity took a #VeryAsian turn earlier this month when an Asian American TV news anchor turned a viewer’s comment she called “ugly and racist” into something quite beautiful and amazing.
On New Year’s Day, KSDK-TV’s Michelle Li posted a video of herself listening to a voicemail from an unidentified woman who had watched a news segment on traditional New Year’s Day dinners. In that segment, Li, who is of Korean descent, made the comment that she “ate dumpling soup. That’s what a lot of Korean people do.”
In the voicemail, the viewer left a message complaining about the news segment, saying, in part, “I kind of take offense to that, because what if one of your white anchors said, ‘Well, white people eat this on New Year’s Day.’ I don’t think it was very appropriate that she said that, and she was being very Asian.” The viewer went on to say, “She can keep her Korean to herself. All right, sorry. It was annoying.”
In 1975, following the end of the Vietnam war, thousands of South Vietnamese refugees were fleeing to the United States to start a new life. Today, the Vietnamese immigrant population in Seattle is large, second only to China as the country of origin for immigrants in our city. This month, Hoa Mai Vietnamese Bilingual Preschool will celebrate its sixth anniversary of serving children from 20 months to 5 years old. Located adjacent to the Mount Baker Light Rail Station, we are part of the Sound Child Care Solutions Consortium. At Hoa Mai, two of our core values are providing a joyful workplace and promoting social justice. I have had the honor of working for our organization for almost 11 years and am also the founding director of Hoa Mai.
Before we closed for the pandemic in March of 2020, things were happening quickly. Yet there was a lot of confusion and unknowns. We received very few guidelines about best safety practices from King County Public Health; there were also mixed messages regarding mask- wearing. At first, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) told us to save the masks for the medical field. There were also conversations about the possible negative impacts on young children seeing adults wearing masks. One of our employees from China expressed safety concerns and wanted to wear her mask, which I denied. It seems so trivial now, but it is the one regret I have about handling the pandemic — not immediately permitting masks to be worn.
By now, most people have heard — or at least heard of — TED Talks. More recently, this Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) nonprofit foundation launched The Mystery Experiment, which granted $10,000 to 300 inspired participants, and in February, local KUOW community engagement producer Kristin Leong was awarded one of these grants.
The funding was a big surprise to Leong. “When TED shared their call for people to apply to be part of their Mystery Experiment, they were very vague about what the project was all about or what it would require of participants,” Leong said. “There was no mention of money at all.”
But that didn’t stop Leong from applying. “I replied to their mysterious call because I’ve had such a supportive and inspiring experience over the last four years as a TED-Ed Innovative Educator and because I believe in TED’s mission to amplify innovative and audacious ideas,” she said. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into!”
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.
After hearing of the shootings in Atlanta, the first thing that rose up in my mind was the very real impact of racist, sexist, and xenophobic stereotypes upon Asian and Pacific Islander women and how those impacts can range from microaggressions to disappearances to murders. I am angry and grieving. I have known women who worked in massage parlors and the sex industry and I felt this loss deeply. I am also so very angry about the way people are reluctant to see this as a hate crime.