This past Tuesday, March 2nd, I had the great pleasure of speaking at a virtual event, “A Conversation on Anti-Asian American Sentiment and Violence,” which was sponsored by the Filipino American Community at Stanford and Stanford’s Asian Staff Forum (on whose board I serve as a volunteer). This conversation featured two standout guest speakers, San Francisco’s ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim and Fremont Mayor Lily Mei, who discussed the rise of anti-Asian American sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the Bay Area. Over 400 participants tuned in to be a part of this conversation, showing that many members of the Stanford community and beyond view anti-Asian racism as a critical issue that needs to be addressed.
To provide some historical framing, I opened the discussion by giving a brief overview of the history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the United States. During my presentation, I discussed the origins of the coolie labor trade, the ideology of yellow peril, the myth of Asian Americans as the model minority, and the history of Asian American activism. Check out my full remarks below.
After I provided this overview, Dion Lim and Lily Mei began discussing how the long history of anti-Asian racism continues to influence the contemporary moment. We can see this legacy most notably in the upsurge of coronavirus-related hate that began with anti-Asian rhetoric in the early days of the pandemic and has escalated in recent months into tangible acts of violence, such as Asian Americans being physically assaulted and held at gunpoint. In one tragic incident, 84-year-old Thai American Vicha Ratanapakdee died after sustaining injuries from an attack.
During their conversation, Dion Lim and Lily Mei covered a variety of topics, such as what constitutes a hate crime and how the city of Fremont and ABC7 News have mobilized efforts to raise awareness about anti-Asian violence. They also offered some excellent suggestions for what community members can do to resist this upsurge in anti-Asian American sentiment, including using their voices and platforms to speak out against hate, providing opportunities for the next generation of Asian Americans to break into leadership roles, and engaging in interracial and cross-cultural efforts to combat racism.
To learn more about this event, check out The Stanford Daily’s coverage or visit the Asian Staff Forum’s website, where a recording of this webinar will be viewable for a limited time. You may also be interested in these additional resources:
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