Signs from “Stop Asian Hate” rally in downtown San Jose at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez (Kevin V Nguyen)
Signs from “Stop Asian Hate” rally in downtown San Jose at the Plaza de Cesar Chavez

Kevin V Nguyen

Activists urge for educational reform at “Stop Asian Hate” rally

May 7, 2021

More than 100 people gathered in San Jose to advocate for educational reform that combats anti-Asian discrimination on April 25.

“In our efforts to fight racism, we cannot become racists ourselves,” said Huy Tran, on the board of directors of the nonprofit group Vietnamese American Roundtable. “We must acknowledge the struggles of other communities and commit ourselves to be anti-racist and anti-oppression.”

Middle school student Ashlyn So, 13, who previously organized her own “Stand with Asians” rally in San Mateo, pointed out that the Fairmont Hotel facing the audience was once a site of San Jose’s many Chinatowns. They burned down 134 years ago out of anti-Chinese racism.

“We are here making history once again in this public plaza to discover the beauty in our Asian culture instead of fear,” So said. “The way forward to our future is education. We need to start teaching others about our cultures at a much younger age. We need to create an environment where children are brought up to love each other’s history.”

Protestors at “Stop Asian Hate” (Kevin V Nguyen)

Betty Duong, the Supervisor for the County of Santa Clara’s Division of Equity & Social Justice, urged attendees to be more involved in decisions about their community.

“Decisions are being made for us, about us, without us,” Duong said. “Meetings where they are talking about much needed resources for the community, we need to be there.”

Duong added that the city’s Library and Education Commission determines what books make it onto shelves and what gets taught in school curriculums — important for those who want to teach the history of anti-Asian violence.

Local artist Annie Jocelyn, 22, agreed. She carried a sign saying “Not Your Fetish.”

“The speakers brought up a really insightful point,” said Jocelyn. “We’ve struggled in silence without taking into consideration how history has inherently led us to this point.”

Peter Wong, 42, said he was grateful he was to have the gathering. He came with a sign with an illustration of Xiao Zhen Xie, the Chinese grandmother who fought back against an assailant in San Francisco.

“I feel like (Xie) is the embodiment of this movement,” Wong said. “What resonated with me most was the passion that everyone had in voicing their concerns for public safety, yet focusing on respect and equality for all.”

The Sunday rally went on despite rainfall.

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