Introduction to Vigil held on March 26th, 2021
This statement was read by Ashley Eng, BHS class of 2019 (lead organizer and BHS alumnus) at the beginning of the vigil
A year ago, COVID-19 turned everyone’s lives upside down. A year ago, Donald Trump called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and a few months later the “kung flu,” thus pushing Asian and Asian Americans into an inevitable, brutal reality.
Racial slurs were directed as us, physical objects were thrown at our faces, acid was poured on us, we were dragged across streets, our faces were slashed, our elders were attacked, the subway became a danger zone, and we could not even walk on the street without fear of getting attacked.
Throughout all of these hate crimes, to many of us, it felt like no one was listening. Not only did the vast majority of people continue their lives unaware of what our community was going through, but some folks even had the audacity to deny that racism against our community exists.
On Tuesday, March 16, a white-supremacist murdered eight individuals in Atlanta, Georgia, six of whom were Asian women. Although officials claimed that the murder may have not been racially motivated, to our community, this was most definitely a hate crime directed at us.
We went from invisible to completely visible, but only for our pain and suffering. Rather than processing this event, we have been asked to explain and analyze everything that has been going on, from the historical roots of anti-Asian racism to the mass shooting in Atlanta and Cherokee County – all while being shaken and heartbroken, angry and afraid, exhausted and betrayed.
To many of us, not only did these six Asian women look like us, but they also reminded us of our own mothers. Our mothers who work hard every day to give us a better life. They do not live for themselves but rather for us. It breaks many of our hearts to think, “What if it had been my own mom?”
Today, we are here to honor the lives of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, and Paul Andre Michels. We are here to bring life to their names, lift up their lives, their hopes and dreams, their histories and stories. These victims are real people with real, lived experiences. They had families, friends, and communities who loved them. To the Asian and Asian Americans who are here with us, whatever you are feeling is valid. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself the space you need. We are here to navigate these dark times together.
These names will not be forgotten and these lives will not be erased. Our hearts go out to their families – those who lost their mother, their grandmother, their sister, their child, their aunt, their friend, their partner, their livelihood, and their reason for living. From this moment onwards, we will carry their legacies forward.