Speech delivered at #StopAsianHate Rally
in Bridgewater, NJ on April 3
Hi, everyone, and good afternoon. Before I begin, I’d just like to thank everyone for coming out to support the Asian American community. My name is Emily Lu and I am a first generation Chinese-Taiwanese American student at the Bridgewater Raritan High School. For the past two and a half weeks, I have been grieving and healing. The deaths of the six Asian women who I’ve never met before struck me very personally, hitting a place very close to home. Although I did not know their names or stories, I have a feeling that their identities, as Asian American women, were not too different from those of my own family, as low income immigrants. Just a month before, I warned my grandparents, who live about 30 mins away from here, that they could not leave their apartment to go grocery shopping or on a neighborhood walk by themselves. This month I worry about the safety and security of my own mother and sister, who enjoy going on neighborhood walks themselves. Despite the huge media outcry and almost overwhelming amount of content pertaining to anti-Asian hate crimes, it was isolating because I felt that I could not reach out to anyone who understood how I was feeling, and this is because anti-Asian racism is reduced down to dark humor jokes.
To the government officials, candidates for local elections, and other leaders of the Bridgewater community, I truly hope that you take tangible action to represent and celebrate Asian American stories and voices in local, state, and national legislation.
At the end of the day, we need anti-racist education in our school systems, we need to feel represented in our history textbooks and english novels, and we need support groups and resources in schools that discuss issues such as racial trauma. COVIDdid not cause anti-Asian hate crimes. Racial violence is a physical manifestation of a lack of education that doesn’t represent marginalized groups, such as Asian stories. I’ve been a student in the public education system for 11 years now, and I’ve come to realize that I will never read a story about a little Chinese girl in English class or learn about the extensive history of Asian violence in my social studies class before college. That’s NOT. OKAY. A lack of diversity in our education system tells people of color that we should not be proud of our culture and heritage. It tells us that our stories are not relevant and not important, which isn’t true. POC history is American history. I want my voice to be heard. I am tired of staying silent and questioning whether or not to voice my opinions in fear of “breaking the rules” of society. Do I not deserve to be represented in our education system?
To our non-Asian friends, please listen to our stories. The Asian American community is hurting, and we need your allyship. I need you to hold people accountable for their racism and xenophobia, so that this behavior does not continue into the next generation. Reject the Model Minority Myth. We are not a monolith community: we’re a diverse group of East, South, Southeast, West Asians, Pacific Islanders & Native Hawaiians with different cultures, languages, and experiences. The Model Minority Myth erases the racism and historical discrimination against Asian Americans from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the mass lynchings of Asian Americans in the 19th century to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982. Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, please be the one to reach out to your Asian American friends about how they’re doing and how they feel, because especially in a pandemic setting, it is lonely to process and heal from an event such as the Atlanta Tragedy.
To my East Asian and Southeast Asian sisters and feminine presenting people, you are constantly in my thoughts. Please take up space in conversations about gender and race based violence. You are allowed to speak up and support yourself and your community. We deserve protection, safety, and love. I know how emotionally and mentally draining these past few weeks have been, so please don’t feel like you owe anyone anything. You are not a resource for your non-Asian friends to learn about anti-Asian hate crimes or the hypersexualization of Asian American women.