That community has grappled with rising racism and violence, including in the Bay Area.
Between March 19, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021, there were at least 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian hate across the nation, ranging from physical assault and verbal harassment to various civil rights violations, according to a report released Tuesday by Stop AAPI Hate. The project is based out of San Francisco State University that asks members of AAPI communities to self-report acts of hate and discrimination.
More than 700 of those incidents occurred in the Bay Area, according to a Stop AAPI Hate report released last month.
‘These Are Our Community Members’
In San Francisco, people hung love letters to friends, family, or the APPI community at large on a clothesline, which was strung across a bridge connecting Portsmouth Square to the Chinese Culture Center.
One sign simply read “grandma,” written in Korean.
Many AAPI people attacked in the Bay Area have been seniors, including a Thai man killed in North Beach, a neighborhood adjacent to the peaceful vigil.
“Whether it’s San Francisco or Oakland, I think a lot of people are facing similar things,” said Hyejin Shim, who works at Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Oakland.
She says the public discussions of the Atlanta womens’ sex work, or not, is a distraction — and dehumanizes people who lost their lives.
“The reality is that sex workers have always been a part of the community,” Shim said. “And so I think the question of whether these massage parlor workers were or were not is irrelevant. But the fact is that massage parlor workers who are Asian are often hyper-sexualized without their consent or their workplaces become a site of sexual harassment from clients. And that is both about race and gender.”
Also at the San Francisco vigil, Esther Leong works at a nonprofit called Asian Pacific Islander Outreach. A San Franciscan with roots in Chinatown, Leong brought enlarged photos from books and family photos to the event to show the historic racism AAPI San Franciscans have faced, and to highlight AAPI’s contributions to the city.
She says she’s upset law enforcement in Atlanta hasn’t called the shootings a hate crime. Leong said she wants government to figure out a way to determine that an incident is a hate crime without having the assailant utter words of hate.