‘Their race was their face’

Elizabeth Kari, daughter of assault survivor Vilma Kari

By Rasmin Diaz

“When I was slashed on a train I cried for help and nobody helped me so I was a victim twice — by the person who slashed my face and the people who just watched me.” So spoke Noel Quintana in the public service announcement by The Outstanding Filipinos in America (TOFA) coinciding with the observance of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month.

Ambassador Mario de Leon

“Stop the hate” has become the resounding cry of Filipinos – and Asians — in America following the violent attacks against senior citizens Quintana and Vilma Kari, the FilAm woman who was punched to the ground on her way to church. The Filipino American community is rallying behind them and calling on Americans to not only speak up but more importantly to act against systemic racism.

Elizabeth Kari, the daughter of Vilma, urged Americans to “share a sense of community with one another.” Former Consul General, Ambassador Mario de Leon, said seniors like Quintana and Kari appeared to be targeted “there is no doubt their race was their face.”

Community leader and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis provided a bit of history of the violence committed against Asian Americans dating back to 1882. She said, “When the economy is in trouble in the United States and millions of Americans are out of work, people who look different from the White majority became the scapegoats of the period.”

Christina Baal Owens, executive director of Public Wise

Christina Baal Owens, executive director of Public Wise, also noted that racism against the API community long predates the COVID-19 pandemic.

“To the non-Asians watching, I implore you to do your part to stop anti-Asian hate, stop attacks as you see them, call-out anti-Asian racism, even if there are no API folks in the room. Assure your API friends that you will help keep them safe.”

“We call on all Americans to speak out strongly against this rising tide of hatred and bigotry. Asian Americans have been a vital part of this nation’s history, and they belong here just as much as everybody else who have come from foreign shores and call America their home,” said Jon Melegrito, executive secretary of the Filipino Veterans Recognition & Education Project.

Jon Melegrito, executive secretary of the Filipino Veterans Recognition & Education Project

Other speakers in the video are White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford, Dr. Erwin Valencia of the New York Knicks, Gina Pazcoguin (NYC Ballet), CBS News reporter Hazel Sanchez, Hollywood journalists Ruben and Janet Nepales, Jo Koy’s mother Josie Harrison, CUNY Professor Kevin Nadal, Miles Dela Cruz of TOFA Awards, recently confirmed California Attorney General Rob Bonta; Brunswick, Ohio Mayor Ron Falconi, Steven Raga (Candidate, 2021 NYC Council), and Yimeng He, Chinese graduate student at Columbia University.

The PSA is available on YouTube and Facebook. There is a performance by YouTube sensation Ez Mil. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lObODC8oks

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