“Stand up. Speak Out.” That’s what members of New York’s AAPI community did on Sunday in order to speak out against the silent, anti-Asian hatred they have been facing for years.
Attacks being systematically carried out on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout New York City and the United States as a result of prejudice related to the COVID-19 pandemic slowly faded from the public consciousness until the city was once again forced to face the horrors of another young woman’s death.
Thrown onto a train track in Times Square by a man who allegedly made anti-Asian statements, Michelle Alyssa Go was the latest person to be added to a list of innocent New Yorkers who have been beaten, stabbed, thrown to the ground, and even murdered in heinous xenophobic attacks.
Members of the AAPI community often do not report attacks, remaining silent in fear, but on the one-year anniversary of the murder of Vicha Ratanapakdee — an 84-year-old attacked in San Francisco and later succumbed to his injuries — thousands throughout the United States say they will no longer remain stereotypical model minorities and instead will ensure their voices are heard.
In New York City, the rally took place in Foley Square at 2 p.m. on Jan. 30, where a declaration was recited, which read in part: “We will not be silenced about the racism we face. We will not be silenced about the hate crimes committed against us. We will not be silenced as the model minority while our communities live in poverty. We will not be silenced and whitewashed in the media…We will not be silenced in the country that we call home. We will speak and we will march, and we will fight until our love of this nation is shown back in time. Today we break the silence. Today we will be heard.”
According to national organizers, Stand with Asian Americans (SwAA) and APAs vs. Hate (AvH), their purpose for the rally was to spotlight the perpetual fear and abuse the AAPI community still faces.
“The death of Vicha Ratanapakdee was a rallying point for the Asian American community in our effort. Unfortunately, anti-Asian violence and xenophobia continues to this day. Individuals, including the elderly and students, are subject to harassment and discrimination. These rallies reflect the community’s continued calls to end racism, for sustained intervention and investment by public officials, and inclusive solutions to combat hate and prejudice,” the organizers said in a press release.
The rally was held simultaneously held in six different cities including San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. According to Stop AAPI Hate, a total of 10,370 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons were reported to their organization between March 19, 2020, and September 30, 2021.
Several elected officials joined the rally in Foley Square calling for an end to Asian hate crimes, abuses and stereotypes.
“Anti-Asian violence is a curse on America. Anti-Asian bigotry is a curse on America. All of us from every different background, every different place must fight it,” Senator Chuck Schumer said, boasting the passage of the Anti-Asian hate crime bill which directs the Department of Justice to review pandemic related hate crimes, particularly expediting those that were reported to law enforcement agencies, and create a way for these incidents to be reported quickly online and with public outreach support. Now Schumer is fighting for the Justice Department to receive proper funding to prosecute these crimes.