• a collage of photos of people attending a rally

      Scenes from “Block the Hate” at the City of San Gabriel

      It was a lovely spring day with families seated on blankets and lawn chairs, enjoying the late afternoon sun, while children ran and played nearby. Others walked their dogs or gathered in small groups to chat.

      By Cheryl Cabot

      It was the ideal time to talk about hate. Specifically, hate directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. On Saturday, May 22, at Vincent Lugo Park in San Gabriel, Compassion in SGV sponsored a “Block the Hate” community rally and block party. It was advertised as a chance to “come together in solidarity to stop Asian hate and to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.”

      group of people cheering

      Many of San Gabriel City officials attended the event. (L-R) Councilwoman Denise Menchaca (kneeling), Councilman Tony Ding (standing,) and Councilman Jason Pu (kneeling) (Photo – Cheryl Cabot)

      Compassion in SGV

      Founder of Compassion in SGV, Brittney Au, was compelled to be more proactive as she felt all the anger and hate crimes against Asians getting closer to home. She was very impressed by Compassion Oakland and asked to start a branch here.

      “We offer free chaperoning services to anyone in the community who may feel unsafe.  They don’t have to be an elder,” Au explained.  “It can be anyone, if you are scared to go to the post office, go grocery shopping or go on daily walks we are able to provide that service and accompany you.  We want to be here for our community.”

      In order to get the word out about their services, Brittany decided to organize a rally.  It had the feel of a neighborhood block party with live music, food vendors, services offered and celebrity speakers.

      Asian Americans Advancing Justice offered information about free legal services, citizenship services and enrollment help for Covered California health insurance.

      A woman in a blazer holding booklets

      Esther Lim (Photo – hatecrimebook.com)

      Hate Crime Book

      Esther Lim, creator of the “Hate Crime Book”, was distributing her free pocket-sized books “How to Report a Hate Crime,” along with whistles. She started this project because she was concerned for the safety of her parents. When the pandemic escalated so did anti-Asian sentiment and attacks on the elders, especially Asian females.

      In the beginning, Lim funded the project with her own money, and by raising money through Go Fund Me, family and friends.  But recently LA Care Health Plan funded the printing of 37,000 booklets for L.A and Orange County across nine languages and the purchase of 20,000 whistles. Whistles are to be used when someone feels threatened, because it’s the universal SOS.

      The booklets are now available locally in print and digitally as e-booklets in nine languages (Korean, Simplified & Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish, and English only) with local resources for the LA/OC, SF/Oakland, and NY regions.

      The booklets are free and can be ordered on Lim’s website hatecrimebook.com.

      A woman on stage speaking

      May Lee (Photo – Cheryl Cabot)

      May Lee

      Award-winning, international journalist and host of the May Lee Show, May Lee, spoke passionately about the need to speak out against racism. “It’s important that we all come together as Asian Americans at a time like this when there has been so much Anti-Asian hate crime throughout the country.

      “And for so long there has been racism against Asians because history tells us that story, and unfortunately because we have been invisibilized for so long we don’t know that this racism has been taking place for two centuries.  There was the Chinese Inclusion Act, the Japanese interment, the killing of Vincent Chin, and now we have COVID.

      “It seems we’re always treated as the outsider and the other and the scapegoat. This time is different. We are coming together and we are finally saying enough is enough. We won’t be silent. We won’t be treated as invisible. We are going to speak up and speak out. We are all coming together and saying, ‘you know what, it’s time we make a change, and we’re not going away until the change happens.’

      two guys one with a mohawk and another with a beanie

      (L-R) Johnny Kim and Jason Chu (Photo – Cheryl Cabot)

      Speaking Out

      A continuing theme running through all the speeches was the need to speak out. San Gabriel City Councilmember and State Assembly candidate for the 49th District, Jason Pu said, “Who hasn’t felt the sting of being bullied or excluded because of our race? I’ve thought long and hard about these experiences and I’ve come to the sad realization that we really don’t ever talk about them.”

      “Part of this is out of fear. We’ve been traditionally afraid to cause trouble and to speak out.”

      Johnny Kim, one half of the DJ duo, Hotel Lobby, and 2017 MTV VMA Winner, said, “I’m proud to be Asian. That’s the first time I’ve ever said that!”

      Another popular musician speaking out against Asian hate was Jason Chu a rapper and activist based in East L.A., and founder of the organization “Hate is a Virus.”

      “One misconception to really dispel is that this is new,” Chu said, “it’s been cyclical. People were fighting in the 70’s and 80’s against Asian hate.

      It doesn’t matter if you are African American, Latinex or Asian,” Chu added, “if one community starts caring and reaching out to others, that no matter who’s in the hot seat right now, we can keep the work going and support each other.”

      dancers perform with corlorful outfits

      The Lion Dance Group (Photo – Cheryl Cabot)

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