By Jessica Lopez
Three college-based organizations came together with a message of allyship in response to the recent spikes of violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
The webinar titled “Silence is Violence: Unpacking and Addressing Anti-AAPI Violence” was presented through Zoom March 27. It had participants from organizations such as the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education, African American Male Education Network and Development, and the California Community College Organización de Latinx Empowerment Guidance & Advocacy for Success.
“Stop the Hate,” a video presentation, showed members of the AAPI community discussing their individual interests — a lighthearted moment before clips of hate crimes were compiled.
The video drove panelist and vice chancellor of Human Resources at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Wyman Fong to tears.
“I’m sorry that this was heavy,” Fong said. “But this is real and has been growing in our community for over a year now.”
Panelists answered scripted and live questions about how people could actively oppose anti-Asian racism in their own lives.
They proposed taking a further look at one of the root causes of anti-AAPI violence, centering the discussion on how White supremacy has affected each of the panelists’ lives as people of color.
Cynthia Olivo, Pasadena City College vice president of Student Services, called attention to what White supremacy does at the macro level. She used the narrative of “othering and exclusion” as an example.
“We need to work together to do everything we can to dismantle that, to disrupt it, using our agency, from wherever we’re at,” Olivo said. “It’s important for us to be united with each other in solidarity.”
The panelists said people should bring awareness to issues going on in all communities not just the ones they belong to.
The panelists did not hold back on addressing the fight for equality and justice.They noted the difficulties of uniting different minority groups when it comes to trying to understand each other’s unique issues.
Dyrell Foster, Las Positas College president, spoke about his experience combating racism while also raising a multicultural family.
“We should never be comparing our struggles to one another,” Foster said. “Anger and frustration, and sadness. These are feelings that everyone has experienced. These are feelings that we all have.”
The coalition made it clear that during their fight against the structures held up by White supremacy, they do not support generalizations made about White people. They acknowledged the presence of many allies that do the work to understand root causes of racism, using self awareness as a tool to understand and uplift voices from minority groups.
“If you feel uncomfortable by sitting on the sidelines, then that’s a problem” said Erin Vines, Antelope Valley College vice president of Student Services. “So jump all in. We cannot let hate be normalized because it happens so much. We have to address it each time we experience it.”