Of the estimated 3,175,692 Americans living in Orange County, 22.1% report their racial identity as singularly Asian, or Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.
Representing those minority voices, impassioned advocacy groups, and frustrated community members united in solidarity at Village Green Park in Garden Grove Sunday afternoon.
Close to 100 individuals came out to support the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and mourn the lives of the eight victims lost to hate crime gun violence in Atlanta, GA, March 16.
Calls for support were specifically directed toward the AAPI community’s vulnerable members, including women, undocumented immigrants, and the elderly.
Last week’s hate crimes in Georgia involved one White gunman, Robert Aaron Long, 21, who went to three massage parlors, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
The public outcry raised additional concerns for the AAPI community after media outlets reported that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia stated that Long suffers from a “sex addiction” and that he claimed the attacks were not racially motivated.
The authorities charged Long last Wednesday with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in connection with the shootings.
Killed in the shootings were: Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Xiaojie Tan, 49
Multiple Orange County-based community organizations, including OC Justice Initiative, VietRISE, and Minority is the Majority, coordinated with Advancing Justice ATL to quickly prepare for the vigil/rally, which featured 8-minutes of silence sage blessings, a healing table, snacks, waters and candles for the vigil.
Allison Vo and Indigo Vu, organizational contributors and speakers from VietRise, fight systemic injustice full-time, explaining that by providing a place for the local AAPI community to grieve, we offer support so that the healing process can begin.
“I’m speaking because I listen to my mom. I listen to Asian women,” said Peter Villafane, a journalism major at Cal State, Long Beach, on discussing the motivation for speaking at the event, “We [the AAPI community] are resilient.”
Another community speaker, Kaila Karns, a communications major at Orange Coast College, shared personal experience handling discrimination in the modeling industry, which served as personal motivation to host an AAPI event, #SkateToEndHate.
Furious over the growing disparity of treatment for minority communities like Asian Americans, community organizers have increased their efforts to address historically challenging issues such as sexualization, fetishization, and xenophobia of the AAPI community.
According to data from the group Stop AAPI Hate, as of Feb. 28, nearly 3,800 incidents against Asians have been reported since March 19 of last year.
This uptick in violence against Asian Americans is, to many, reflective of false rhetoric around the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
OC Stands in Solidarity – upcoming events.
FC Cadena Cultural Center – Healing with Heart: A Safe Space in Response to Anti-Asian Violence (online event) March 24, from 3:00-4:30 p.m. Open to all members of the Fullerton community are welcome! CLICK HERE to RSVP.
Stand Against Anti-Asian Hate – (in-person demonstration) March 25, 1:30-3 p.m. Join FC faculty, staff, interested students, and allies as they stand and hold signs on N Lemon St. & E Chapman Avenue. The Fullerton College president has approved this demonstration and may come out to show his support. Masking and social distancing are required.
Stand for Asians – (online event) March 25, 5:00-6:30 p.m. Don Han and Joyce Sanchez from OC Human Relations will provide information about the rise in hate crimes and recent incidents, and local elected officials will share what they’re doing. Community partners will join as well. See flyer for more details.