Last month’s fatal shooting in Atlanta that left six Asian women dead inspired demonstrations, marches and protests throughout Boston over the weekend, as local groups mobilize with the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
The horrific event also inspired Phoebe Tian, a 14-year-old high school student from Lexington, to write a song.
“It is time when we speak up, we sit up high, we stand up strong,” a crowd of 200 people sang on the Boston Common Sunday. “We are proud to be Asian; staying quiet is not an option.”
Tian wrote the song, “We Are Proud To Be Asian,” after volunteering last month at a vigil to honor the victims of the Atlanta shooting. Her words became an anthem that led organizations to the streets of Boston on Saturday and Sunday to demand protection for the most vulnerable members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
“Our song serves as a reminder to those struggling under these challenging times that we're here, that we're with you and that will overcome this together,” Tian told the crowd on Sunday. “Change begins with asserting our voices in the ongoing national conversation about racial justice.”
Sunday’s rally, organized by the New England Chinese-American Alliance, New Moon International Media and more than 60 Asian American civic associations and groups from around the state, called on local schools to incorporate Asian American history and culture into K-12 curricula.
“The American history taught in our schools is simply not complete without including the contributions, struggles and treatment of Asian-Americans,” New England Chinese American Alliance co-chair Hua Wang told the crowd Sunday. “The growing national movement to end Asian hate crimes and the youth fully embracing their Asian heritage holds hope for a bright future.”
The weekend’s events came after a series of violent acts against Asian Americans across the country last month, including an attack on a 75-year-old Chinese woman, Xiao Zhen Xie, in San Francisco, and the fatal shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people, six of them Asian women.
Alex Yang, a 10-year-old Newton resident, stood holding a sign that read “proud to be Asian” at Sunday’s rally. Yang, who was born in Beijing, China, said that last month’s shooting was “traumatizing” and made him question his safety while living in America.
“It just makes you reconsider your safety in Massachusetts,” Yang said. “Like, am I actually safe? Will I have the same fate as those who died? And will we forever be tormented?”
Following the Atlanta shooting, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jay Baker told reporters the suspect was having “a really bad day” — a statement that caused backlash around the nation, reverberating to a demonstration Saturday at Peter’s Park in Boston.
On Saturday, Mu Yun stood in a crowd of roughly 75 people, sandwiched between signs reading “f--- your bad day.” Yun said she hopes the media learns from the young organizers.
“What happened in Atlanta happened to working class women, immigrant women,” Yun said. “I don’t think the media does a great job at looking at the different intersectionalities of the identities and the different issues that contribute to what is happening on a larger scale.”
Saturday’s protest was organized by Asian Coalition Massachusetts, a collective of Asian youth across the Commonwealth, to highlight issues of gentrification and deportation that primarily impact low-income Asian people.
A recurring theme of the day was placing a spotlight on the members of the AAPI community that are least visible, including Asian transgender people. Micah Rosegrant, a senior at Boston University, said that Asian liberation and breaking the gender binary standard are inexorably linked.
“We have gender transcendence across the Asian diaspora and across our ancestries,” they said. “Third gender and gender fluid folks existed in languages and ontologies outside of English or America.”
There was also a large #StopAsianHate rally saturday in Quincy.