ATHENS, Ala. – Calling for respect and decency towards fellow Americans, several organizations came together in Athens, Sunday for a rally against anti-Asian hate, racism, and terrorism.
Several speakers shared deeply personal stories about how they’ve consistently encountered Asian stereotypes.
“My parents keep telling me to keep my head down. That if we do not cause a scene, everyone will be safe,” said Sneha Subramani, a senior a James Clemens High School.
Subramani is one of the countless kids who go to school to learn but must also face peers who tease and disrespect her because they don’t accept why she is not exactly like them. For Subramani, she felt she needed to distance herself from who she is.
“I would always act as if I didn’t know about Indian culture. I would always feel embarrassed when my mom would talk in our native language in front of my friends. I’d always tell my parents to not act so Indian.”
Speakers at the rally say Asian-Americans have been largely silent when it comes to racism. Between increased violence and vile rhetoric against Asians as it relates to the pandemic PLUS the recent murders in Atlanta, the pain is becoming too much to hold in.
While law enforcement in Atlanta claims the spa shootings were not racially motivated, minorities are not buying it for a second.
“There’s prostitution in Atlanta. Why did he not kill them? He says he’s addicted to sex. He’s trying to kill everybody who is doing sex. Why did he not go to the streets?” said Diana Isom.
“I’m sure these women have felt the things that I felt. The fetishization and hyper-sexualization of Asian women,” said Vera Vergara of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus.
Recent headlines aside, the rally in Athens served as a storyboard for people to explain just how hurt they are by everyday slurs and hate.
“People would ask my partner, where did you get her?” said Vergara. “I can’t tell you the amount of times I have been out with friends, in clubs. And men holler at me, ‘me so horny’ and think that’s supposed to be funny. It’s not.”
The rally against hate in Athens follows a vigil that was held in Birmingham last weekend by the Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus, Alabama Democratic Party.