Speech delivered at Stop Asian Hate Rally
in Scotch Plains, NJ on April 17
I would like to begin by thanking everyone for coming out today to support our rally. As a lifelong resident of Scotch Plains, I am truly heartened to see so many people standing in solidarity with the Asian-American Pacific Islander community at this student of color-driven event. When addressing the recent escalation in anti-Asian violence and sentiment, I want to underscore that we must not regard these unconscionable hate crimes as episodic, individual incidents. Rather, we must fathom them as occurring at the intersection of white supremacy, misogyny, and U.S. imperialism.
In wake of the calamitous Atlanta shootings, several police officials and legal
commentators speculated on whether the murders were racially motivated or gender-based. The answer is both. Allow us to reflect on the historical treatment and portrayal of Asian women in the United States, particularly their fetishization. The stereotype of Asian women as docile and subservient can be traced back to the Page Act of 1875, which forbade the importation of Asian women into the United States because many white Americans feared they were engaging in prostitution. In wars and occupations throughout Asia, which is where imperialism factors in, U.S. military men fetishized and objectified Asian women. Issues of race, gender, and class thus cannot be understood in isolation.
In addition to calling for a more intersectional perspective, I hope to emphasize today the importance of collective healing. A lot of us are grieving and processing right now, and we’ve seen that our suffering is not newfound, but rooted in a deep historical legacy. We are still grappling with the transgenerational impact of historical atrocities; because our emotional
trauma is largely collective in nature, our approach to healing and progress must be collective as well. We hence must supplant the American ethos of rugged individualism with one of synergistic wellness and liberation.
That means more solidarity, mutual aid, and grassroots organizing to create institutional change — more interrogation of the oppressive attitudes and behaviors that both we ourselves and others harbor. That means protecting our Asian elders, intervening and speaking up when we witness social injustices, ranging from microaggressions to overt white supremacist violence. That means checking in with our BIPOC friends and understanding the impact of white supremacy and racial trauma on one’s physical and mental well-being. Urging people of color to just “toughen up”, “be positive”, and exude “good vibes” is blatant gaslighting. Want to truly support BIPOC? Call your representatives, vote, donate to causes that matter, support local minority businesses.
To all the allies in the crowd: while we may feel fatigued, triggered, or numb in our allyship at times and tempted to put aside our activism, we must recognize that it is our own socio-political capital that enables us to pivot from confronting justice. For far too many, injustice is an excruciating everyday reality, and we must work to alter that.
Thank you so much for your time and attention in listening to my words, and I truly hope you enjoy the many amazing speakers we have planned for today.