A man speaking to a crowd with signs denouncing racism

      Councilmember Jason Pu at an Anti-AsianHate rally (Photo courtesy of author)

      The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and anti-Asian hate incidents has been distressing, enraging, tragic and traumatic, to say the least.

      By Jason Pu

      StopAAPIHate.org now reports that there have been over 4,000 such attacks throughout the country since February of last year and, while this is an all-time high, we also know that the actual number of anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents is far greater than that number. Over 35% of the attacks that have been reported occurred in commercial areas near businesses and over 25% of these attacks have occurred on public streets or sidewalks. Almost 70% of the reported attacks have been against women. Over 42% of these attacks have been reported by Chinese Americans, while almost 15% were reported by Korean Americans and another 9% were reported by individuals identifying simply as “Asian.” (Data courtesy of StopAAPIHate.org.)

      I’m highlighting this data to simply say that we all should be a little more vigilant and careful in shopping areas and public streets and sidewalks, and we should try not to go to such places alone.  If you are a survivor or a witness of an anti-Asian attack, please go to StopAAPIHate.org to report it.  The website also contains a lot of other great information and resources, including safety tips for survivors and witnesses and bystander intervention training.  In addition, we know that the most devastating anti-Asian hate attacks have been against the elderly.  I personally cannot understand what motivates someone to attack an elderly Asian Pacific American, especially an elderly Asian Pacific American woman.  Does it make you feel tough, vindicated or like a bigger person to surprise attack an elderly person?  Those people are cowards (as all bullies are), criminals and, in far too many cases, murderers.

      The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents have triggered my own childhood trauma.  When I was a kid, I was constantly bullied, harassed and attacked just because of my last name and, therefore, because of my Chinese American ethnicity. One older kid (whom I did not even know) went as far as wrapping a chain around my neck and strangling me while we were waiting in line for lunch at school just because he was looking for someone else to blame and push down.

      Culturally, many in the Asian Pacific American (APA) community like me were brought up to “work hard and keep our heads down,” “don’t make a fuss,” “don’t cause trouble,” “grin and bear it” and “accept whatever comes your way.” While there is much in these values to be admired, they have also contributed to the APA community being viewed as the “model minority” and the “silent,” “invisible” minority. I took these values to heart and also suffered in silence. I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t tell my teachers. I didn’t speak out. I didn’t stand up.  I didn’t seek help.

      Today, “suffering in silence” is not and cannot be the APA community’s story as we face dramatic increases in anti-Asian hate incidents and anti-Asian hate crimes and a rising tide of APA empowerment with #StopAAPIHate and #StopAsianHate.

      I have said in speeches that this culture of being “invisible” and “suffering in silence” needs to change now.  Since then, I have also had conversations with community activists from other backgrounds and seen Instagram posts from actors like Daniel Dae Kim and Olivia Munn that have challenged me to deepen my thinking even further. Yes, we must stop being invisible and silent. Public figures like the ones cited have made the point that the APA community’s silence and invisibility is really about our own resignation to being “second-class citizens” and an acceptance that we are “just happy to be here” and don’t need to demand the equal rights to which every American is entitled.  In addition, community advocates from other groups have explained how some of the language being used by some APA leaders and elected officials (though not me personally) is also triggering, offensive or even hurtful to members of other groups.

      It is in this spirit that I offer these 4 hopes for the future of #StopAAPIHate, #StopAsianHate and the APA community in general:

      1- Awareness

      This already is happening so I am confident it will continue. This is a moment of greater awareness and awakening, not only for the APA community but also for the country as a whole. It also is a moment of a greater awareness of the history, heritage, struggles, triumphs, hopes, fears, values, ideals, culture and contributions of and within the APA community.

      2- Allyship

      The outpouring of solidarity and support from other communities has been overwhelming, encouraging and inspiring.  However, even deeper and more important than in-the-moment solidarity and support are the concepts of allyship and partnership.  Being an ally and a partner is more than just being thankful for support from others when we need it.  Being an ally and a coalition partner is also about being there for others when they need help.  I hope that, from this moment, the APA community is able both to gain some long-term allies and coalition partners and also to listen and learn how to be better allies and coalition partners to others.

      3- Affirmation/Acceptance

      We hereby affirm that Asian Pacific Americans are, in fact, Americans and that we finally should be accepted in the U.S. as an integral and equal part of this country both with issues that should be addressed and with a diversity of cultures, languages and needs that should be accounted.  Of course, we all must strive to be better – better to ourselves and better to others – and that is a never-ending journey that we must all take together. We affirm that we belong.

      4- Activism

      I hope this moment activates the APA community and empowers APAs everywhere to get involved and to be part of solutions on a long-term basis.  We can no longer be silent.  We can no longer be invisible.  We must stand up.  We must speak out.

      Jason Pu is Councilmember for the City of San Gabriel and Candidate for CA State Assembly (49 AD).

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      1. #StopAAPIHate #StopAsianHate: We Cannot “Suffer in Silence” and My Hopes for the Future of is.gd/bYFgJE #antiasianhatecrimes

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