On Saturday March 27th 2021, over 60 different cities organized their own rallies in a National Day of Action Against Asian Hate, launched by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition. I attended the rally in Philadelphia that began in Franklin Square and moved throughout Chinatown. Over 300 participants attended alongside the Party for Socialism and Liberation to march in solidarity against Asian hate crimes and violence.
The Party for Socialism and Liberation did an exceptional job creating a safe, inclusive, and cathartic space. Participants took to the streets of Chinatown in a powerful collection of expression and healing. Asian-American speakers shared their personal stories and amplified the stories of others. One organization entitled “Justice for Christian Hall” expressed the story of the 19-year old who was murdered after seeking solace during a mental health crisis. To read more about his story, please visit the links at the end of this article.
There is a particular quote from one of these speakers that I haven’t been able to forget:
“We are so tired of people telling us to organize these rallies to ‘find our voices.‘ We’ve always known the power of our voices. We never lost them.”
The media continuously perpetuates this model minority myth that says these communities are only now waking up and taking action; when that couldn’t be further from the truth. These are the results of years of systematic and misogynistic racism. The majority of content we’re exposed to from the media is grossly calculated and controlled in attempts to silence these communities. A speaker gave an example of this saying, “To this day, we still don’t have dash-cam footage. We still don’t have body cam footage. There has been no action or accountability following the death of this 19-year old. And we’re asking the state attorney general of Pennsylvania to take up this investigation from the (Monroe) County DA.”
Speaking to my white communities; it is our responsibility to get uncomfortable. It is crucial now more than ever, and long past due. The work we put into unlearning deep-rooted ignorance, prejudice, and learned behaviors that stem from privilege, is what will make us genuine allies and create safer, more open spaces for these communities to exist harmoniously. It is up to us to re-educate one another to grow, and do better. The work does not end here; it begins here.
I am now going to include transcribed speeches from various participants and members of The Party for Socialism and Liberation. I have attached links for more information on this organization at the end of this article.
“We are distracted by politicians who choose performative actions over real, tangible action, and investment in our community. All the while, our communities are dying, and are now facing direct violence. It is up to us to take care of one another and not stand for the neglect of the people. We can no longer wait for help that is not coming. We must stand together to support and protect one another. For that, I am proud to stand here with you today. To fight for our future. For our grandmas. And for our elders.”
“I’m also a teacher, and so in case my students are here also, I hope they see that their teachers are showing their faces in these places as well.”
One speaker brought her young daughter, to set an example of what it means to stand in solidarity and be heard. Her daughter was holding a hand-written sign entitled “please keep my grandmother safe.” This woman said she would never have imagined she’d have to sit down with her own mother to advise her in defending herself. She even bought her mother pepper spray.
“These past few weeks, I was reminded of how, growing up, I was oftentimes asked by my classmates if I wished I were white. Or, told that ‘I wasn’t really that Asian.’ Or, when I was nearly hit by a pickup truck in college, by a man who then proceeded to yell that, ‘I should go back to my rice patties.’ I think about when COVID first hit and I had this gut-wrenching feeling that something bad was brewing for my Asian brothers and sisters. And a few days later, while holding my 2-year old daughter’s hand while walking to the playground, a man stopped his car in the middle of an intersection, to yell at me to ‘go back to China, you effing b****.’
At that moment, I froze. And I wanted to cover my daughter’s ears, and shield her from those hateful words. All I want to do as a mother is to protect her from any harm; and to be honest with you all, I’m a little scared. I’m scared that I may not be able to do that. I worry that she and my little nephews and my nieces may face more racism than I ever have; and I am absolutely gutted by this thought.
But as I stand here in front of all of you, I am comforted. I feel your strength. I feel your support. And I am here to say aloud that I am proud to be Korean.”
“When we decide, and when we learn to come together, and find out there’s great intersectionality in our pain, and our hurt – because there’s a lot of hurt in the Asian community – there’s a lot of hurt in the Black community – we need to come together and stop demonizing each other, and start realizing that we’re stronger together.
Our collective voice is a demonstration of our collective power.”
The Party for Socialism and Liberation: https://www.facebook.com/pslphilly/ IG: @pslweb
Philadelphia Liberation Center IG: @phillyliberationcenter
Mental Health: Asian Mental Health Collective: asianmhc.org
Anti-Asian Violence Resources: https://anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co/?fbclid=IwAR2dlU_vVdxZNlS_Zxz1yCUqQ5tEUaq4s6X61bC1Bjnd7omuLDF9Ig9Vt7Y
Justice for Christian Hall IG: @justice_for_christianhall
GoFundMe, Donate, Educate, and More: https://linktr.ee/justiceforchristianhall