Asian women on how to move beyond hate attacks

Top row: Marita Etcubañez of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC; Michelle Kang of Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate
Second row: Sung Yeon Choimorrow of  the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum; Sasanna Yee, San Francisco-based mindful movement instructor and community wellness activist.

By Jenny Manrique

Asian American women are experiencing a fresh wave of violent, hate-related attacks. According to the web portal Stop AAPI Hate, since March 2020, there have been over 10,000 attacks, 16 percent of which have been physically violent. Elders were the targets in the majority of incidents. A poll commissioned by The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum found that 70 percent of AAPI women voters experienced some sort of racialized harassment or discrimination between June 2019 and January 2021. 

Panelists convened by Ethnic Media Services on Feb. 25 discussed the significant happenings in the history of the United States that created an unsafe environment for AAPI’s, long before the pandemic, and how communities have responded to keep their people safe. 

Sung Yeon Choimorrow

Executive Director

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

“As Asian American women, many of us felt this living in the United States long before COVID… we are targeted both for our race and our gender.

“The first Chinese immigrant woman in the United States was brought over by a New York businessman who put her on display so that Americans could watch her eat, look at her small feet, look at her skin color or hair, and the way she talked. From the get-go of the Asian immigrant women’s experience, we were seen as entertainment or an experience to be consumed.  

“Asian women are also depicted as submissive, and terms such as ‘geisha girl,’ ‘china doll’ and ‘lotus blossom’ are not favorable terms, but rather a way to hypersexualize Asian women that makes them easy targets for sexual and other forms of harassment.”

Marita Etcubañez

Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

“In terms of education and awareness, we now have more voices speaking out to help people understand the harm that racist rhetoric have on our communities…Since launching our joint bystander intervention trainings in the spring of 2020 (with Hollaback Stop Harassment), AAAJ affiliates in Illinois, California and DC, have trained about 150,000 people.

“We marked a victory in May, with passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, a federal bill that requires the Justice Department to formulate guidance for law enforcement agencies and others on creating online reporting systems for hate crimes and hate incidents.

“We need greater investment in our community, including in social services, improving education, so that we can better create the conditions where people not only feel safe, but are able to thrive.”

Michelle Kang

General Secretary

Atlanta Korean Committee against Asian Hate

“AAPI’s have become louder during the pandemic in response to the rise of Asian hate, especially after the March 16 Atlanta shooting massacre. We were furious and frustrated over the attacks and killings of eight innocent people and six Asian women.  

“In Georgia, the first generation of Korean Americans formed the Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian hate on March 17… The committee created a space where black, brown, and other people of color gather to heal and support each other.

“During the 2021 elections AAPI’s made a tremendous effort to elect representatives who pushed the country in solidarity to stop hate crimes and to achieve inclusion and racial equity… Georgia AAPI is making a historical record having 12 progressive Asian American candidates, including young candidates in their 20s to represent all Americans.” 

Sasanna Yee

Inspirational speaker and yoga teacher whose grandmother was fatally attacked at a San Francisco Park in 2019

“My grandmother immigrated here in the late 80s. She was unfortunately physically attacked across the street from her home when she went for a walk in the park in the neighborhood that I grew up in and I still live in. It’s called Visitacion Valley.  

“The young man that hurt her was 17 years old at the time… My grandmother’s brain was bashed, she fell on her face with her broken ribs. She was in very bad condition… What happened to this young man that caused him to do such a thing? He must be in so much pain. I know because when I’m in pain, I also hurt people.  

“Black Lives Matter was such a powerful rallying slogan. What is it for Asians? My team and I came up with “Asians belong”. This phrase is affirming. This phrase acknowledges that we have been seen as perpetual foreigners but no longer. We are reclaiming our stories and our voice.” – Ethnic Media Services

VP LENI ROBREDO interview with Boy Abunda CLICK HERE

(C) The FilAm 2022

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