Continuing on Wednesday was the local response to the killing of eight people in Atlanta last week. Six of the victims were Asian American women.
After a Tuesday night online vigil that included recitation of original poetic works, the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition organized a demonstration for early Wednesday afternoon at Indiana University’s Sample Gates.
At least 200 people attended the “Gathering Against Asian Hate,” which was emceed by Pallavi Rao, a doctoral student at Indiana University’s media school.
A highlight of the event was a call for Indiana’s governor, Eric Holcomb, to respond to a petition from a national Asian women’s group—to address the rise in anti-Asian sentiment across the state.
Ellen Wu, who is the director of the Asian American Studies program at Indiana University and associate professor in the department of history, told the crowd she was speaking on behalf of Indiana’s chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).
Wu described the Atlanta shootings as “anti-Asian acts of misogyny.” The victims who were not Asian also died because of anti-Asian racism, Wu said.
NAPAWF’s effort against anti-Asian racism in the state of Indiana came before the Atlanta shootings. NAPAWF identified a rise in anti-Asian sentiment in connection with the COVID-19 virus, which had its first case identified in Wuhan, China.
A petition launched by NAPAWF on March 11, a few days before the Atlanta shootings, was timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.
According to a NAPAWF press release, the pandemic marked the start of a surge in anti-Asian harassment and violence. The news release cites a 2020 post-election survey that found one in six Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters reported that they or a family member had faced racism related to COVID-19.
The petition asks Indiana’s governor Eric Holcomb to address the rise in anti-Asian harassment and violence occurring across the state.
On Wednesday, Wu said that the governor had not yet responded directly to the petition. The governor had given remarks to the effect that racism is bad, but to her knowledge, had not used the word “Asian,” Wu said.
At Wednesday’s gathering, Huixin Tian, who is an IU doctoral student in information and library science, talked about the way the pandemic had turned her, and others like her, into a “symbol of hate” for many Americans.
The Atlanta shootings showed how hatred, bigotry and misogyny towards Asians remains present in current American society, Tian said.
Simon Luo, a doctoral student in political philosophy, criticized news outlets and social media for making it a priority to sympathize with the person who took eight lives instead of the eight eight lives that were taken away.
Luo also traced the timing of specific violent acts to former President Donald Trump’s insistence on calling COVID-19 the “China virus.”
Luo was critical of the way a Georgia law enforcement officer had described the 21-year-old man who is accused of killing eight people. Baker was quoted saying: “Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”
The “bad day” quote accounted for the several signs in the crowd on Wednesday that said, “Fuck your bad day!”
Also addressing the crowd on Wednesday afternoon was Vauhxx Booker, who was introduced as a member of the Monroe County human rights commission. Booker said, “You shouldn’t be able to say ‘Stop Asian hate’ without being able to say ‘Black lives matter’”
Booker continued, “As cultures, we have to realize America was a nation that was never intended for anyone else other than white men as full people. Black folks, Asian folks, Latino folks, have fought at every step of the way to realize the American dream.”
Photos: Sample Gates March 24, 2021 “Gathering Against Asian Hate”