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Digital drawings of Ee Lee and Christian Hall. Photos: Jonathan D. Chang
Digital drawings of Ee Lee and Christian Hall. Photos: Jonathan D. Chang

Planned New York City rally unites Black, Latinx and Asian communities against anti-Asian hate

The rally is in response to the uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes seen in 2020.

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Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of racial violence and sexual assault and may be upsetting to some readers. 

 

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a recent wave of racist attacks on Asian-Americans, mainly as a result of xenophobic rhetoric used by former President Donald Trump. 

Between March and August of 2020, the organization Stop AAPI Hate received over 2,583 reports of anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide, and these incidents are often excluded from mainstream media attention. 

In response to the increased violence against Asian-Americans, many of them who were elders, activists from Latinx, Black, Indigenous and Asian American communities are teaming up to hold an emergency rally against racism in New York City on Saturday, Feb. 20. 

Organizers of the rally are calling for justice for several victims of recent hate crimes. 

Ee Lee was a 36-year old Hmong American from Wisconsin, who was sexually assaulted and beaten to death in a park last September. Vicha Ratanapakdee was an 84-year old Thai-American man who died as a result of injuries after being pushed by a teen in an unprovoked attack at the end of January. 

The rally is also seeking justice for Noel Quintana, a 61-year-old Filipino-American who was slashed across the face after a dispute with another man on a New York subway in early February, and Christian Hall, a 19-year old teen who was shot by Pennsylvania police while experiencing a mental health crisis in December 2020. 

Rohan Zhou-Lee, who is of Black and Asian descent, is one of the organizers of the rally. Part of it will also showcase the artwork made by Los Angeles-based artist Jonathan Chang

Chang’s work features digital drawings of the victims, like Lee, Ratanapakdee and Hall. 

“Some of the most vulnerable people in our community are being attacked and they don’t have a voice. We need to be their voice. We need to show America that we care about these injustices, because if we don’t, why would anyone else?” Chang said in an interview with the Asian American news source, NextShark.

Anti-Asian racism in the U.S. is not new. Throughout its history, the United States Supreme Court has ruled against Asian-Americans, citing objectively racist opinions. 

For example, in 1854, The People v. Hall ruled that the testimony of a Chinese man who witnessed a murder by a white man was inadmissble, based on the opinion that the Chinese were “a race of people who nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point.” 

This case ruled that Chinese people, as well as Native and African Americans, have no right to testify against European Americans in court. 

Solidarity between Black and Asian Americans is crucial right now, as many enraged Asians are spewing anti-Black rhetoric as they fight for justice. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, encouraged his Twitter followers not to resort to “knee jerk calls” for more policing, as this directly impacts the movement for Black Lives. 

“Asian-Americans need to locate anti-Asian violence as part of a pattern of white supremacy which also targets Black and Brown and Indigenous people. Even if perpetrators of violence are people of color, the solution is not to fallback on racist assumptions,” Nguyen wrote. 

Michelle Kim, Equitable and Inclusive Leadership & Culture Advocate, also wrote about the issue in her recent Medium article entitled “On Anti-Asian Hate Crimes: Who Is Our Real Enemy?” 

“We fight anti-Asian racism with anti-Black rhetoric and tactics, and anti-Asian racism goes unnoticed, or worse justified, in part due to the deep-seated and understandable resentment towards our community, which undeniably has more work to do to eradicate anti-Blackness, and whose perceived proximity to whiteness is aided through the perpetual and blatant erasure of our historical and present-day solidarity work with other marginalized communities,” she wrote.

For the rally organizer Zhou-Lee, the work is towards creating a new world and system not built on the backs of people of color. 

“We have to imagine a new world of justice rooted in compassion, not a system built on the slavery of Africans, the genocide of the Indigenous, the exploited labor of Asians, and the lynching of all the above,” said Zhou-Lee. 

 

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