tv AAPI Activists Discuss Anti- Asian Violence in America CSPAN April 9, 2021 2:35pm-3:08pm EDT
on c-span, the senate on c-span2, and follow our congressional coverage anytime at c-span.org or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> next, asian-american elected officials and activists talk about anti-asian violence and racism. this event was held by video -- was held via videoconference. >> welcome to anti-asian violence in america upon stress virtual event, a podcast coming you -- to you from arlington, virginia. welcome to our audiences on facebook, youtube, twitter, linkedin, and you can join the conversation on twitter using our handle. i will be joined by my colleagues over the next half-hour to unpaid the recent upswing in anti-asian violence. i will be joined by my colleagues to talk about the social political movements
affecting national discourse, with respect to how activists have an hour shaping -- have been and are shaping the conversation. senator chang, welcome. thank you for being with us. sen. chang: thanks for having me. >> you were elected in 2014 to the michigan house. you were the first asian-american woman to do so, but i want to go back to before that, to your roots as a community organizer, and working with civil rights icon grizzly bog. i want to know what impact she had on the beginning of your career and your activism. sen. chang: grace and being around her in my first two years in detroit shaped a lot of who i am as well as my work as a
community organizer and coalition builder. she and the people around her really taught me so much about grassroots organizing in detroit , detroit history as a civil-rights hub for so many years. i think that has been something i have been able to take with me now as a public servant. i am really grateful for those years. >> what did you learn about coalition building, particularly coalition building is of color across detroit? sen. chang: a lot of work i did around voting rights, criminal justice reform, basically in the early years before running for office. i have continued to learn about
how to connect with people, how we figure out what it is that can make someone interested in an issue, how are we going to connect with someone who maybe has not thought about this issue , and how do we broaden coalitions effectively. and most importantly, how do we make sure is done in a multiracial -- make sure work is done in a multiracial way? that has really led us to this moment, but i think it has been really powerful to be part of some really amazing multiracial coalition. as someone who is an asian-american in a district that -- my house district was predominately asian-american, and that my senate district has a large latino community, so i am kind of an anomaly. it has been a great experience to build bridges between many of
the communities in my own district. it has been a tremendous experience so far. >> i think so many times, we focus on the divisions, and i wonder what we can share -- what message you can share about building those bridges, but it may look like among your constituency. -- what it may look like among your constituency. sen. chang: it is really important that we are always making connections between issues. whether it is south asian aide or working on issues of racism and connecting them very much to black lives matter and also continuing the fight for immigrant rights. i am lucky that i have amazing people in my district that have been working on tough issues for a long time, to be able to help us with the work they are doing, make those connections. this coming saturday, a group i
am on the board for is doing a healing session with detroit action and healing by choice, which is geared to be asian-american and all-black, indigenous people of color. a dialogue i am excited about. we need more of that, especially given what is going on in our country. >> i wanted to ask you about your family, which is also biracial. what do you tell your children about this moment? i wonder how you are speaking to them about that. sen. chang: in this past year, i have had to explain to my older daughter, who is going to be 60 this august, about george floyd in very simple terms, about the fact that there was a black man who was killed by the police and that other officers did not
intervene. she got it right away. she said, well, why didn't the good officers help or stop the bad officer? she gets it. after the shooting in georgia, having to explain that there were six asian-american women that were killed because of who they are. it was hard to figure out what words to use and make sure i explained it in a way that made sense, but she remembered it. she has been to several rallies i have spoken at over the past few weeks. she is asian and black and i want her to be proud of everything else she is, and i also want her to make sure she has seen members of her community standing up for one another. we want to make sure we get her to those spaces where she sees
people who look like both parts of her, working together, really trying to uplift issues around justice and equity. it has been quite the year for america, but with families having to figure out how to talk about these things with our kids, it has been challenging. niala: senator, i wonder if you can share how you feel in this moment as someone who has spent her entire life working to advance issues among the asian-american community, but all these different communities of color. what is it like to have this moment where, all of a sudden, there was a spotlight on the asian-american community that we really have never experienced? sen. chang: i think it has been a roller coaster for so many in the asian-american community.
i have felt that way, moments of sadness and anger and asian-american women texting each other to see how we are doing, knowing some of us are reliving moments of racism and sexism combined over our lifetimes. i think it is really unfortunate that it took a mass shooting for much of america to wake up to the fact that there is a lot of anti-asian sentiment that exists and that it is not new in our country. it has been interesting and a struggle, but also really inspiring to see some of the amazing activism, especially from younger people in the community that are just really rising up and speaking out. it has been really inspiring. niala: well, senator, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us. stephanie chang is a state senator in michigan. she represents district one. thank you for your time.
sen. chang: thank you so much for having me. niala: next we have a segment with my>> thank you. i am sarah executive editor at axios and i'm happy to have my next guest introduce you to amanda, the founder and ceo of an organization has been advocating change laws on behalf of sexual assault victims. thank you so much for being with us today. >> thank you for having me. sarah: i am interested to talk to you about anti-asian violence because i'm curious where you sit. you have a lot of experience with people who have been victims of assault, of sexual assault, and trying to advocate on behalf of those victims. now we are talking about a broader population.
i'm wondering if you are seeing any parallels in reluctance of victims to come forward. >> absolutely. justice issues are intersectional, and as someone who has spent nearly a decade working on sexual assault survival rights -- survival rights, i can say there is a connection between sexual violence and with victims of racism are experiencing. it is very well known that there is a stigma attached to coming out as a rape survivor. like myself, i am a survivor. i have also lived as an asian american my entire life. in my lived experience, i can say that i have had experiences where people in the community are hesitant to share the racism
they have experienced because they don't think it will be validated, because they don't think there is new wants and space -- nuance and space to account for what they have gone through. i'm hopeful that in the moment we are in, we are starting to see this dialogue change. sara: i see what you are saying. i think that culturally, there are some issues with a culture of not wanting to stick out, not wanting to complain. i know that is not necessarily the right word, but to make a fuss or cause a disturbance. you know, i think it asian american culture and asian culture, it is about fitting in, having your work speak for itself and not standing out.
i also think that in what has happened since the atlanta killings as a conversation that has been a much broader and much more outspoken. i'm interested in your thoughts generationally as to whether you think there is a change going on. >> there is undoubtedly a change going on right now. younger asian american pacific islanders, i have noted, feel they are entitled to the constitutional rights afforded to all americans. there has been a theme of first-generation immigrants feeling like they need to assimilate and they can't speak up because they just want to survive in a new country, in a new world. that generational split has helped not only -- held not only
because of people speaking up but social media, democratizing access to resources and the idea that we are not alone. sara: i guess there has been a lot of conversation about hate crimes and how we define that. i wanted to turn to that, because you have a lot of experience with legislation and passing laws to help victims of sexual assault. i'm interested in your thoughts about how we define a hate crime. do you feel it is adequate to address the incidents we have seen the last year and beyond? >> there is a legal definition for what hate crimes constitute, but to be clear here, what is morally acceptable and what the law upholds are two different
issues. democracy is an experiment and be consistently reiterate ourselves to make a more perfect union. by acknowledging that as a starting point, i want to say that hate crimes may be defined a certain way, however, we must investigate unconscious bias. when we talk about hate crimes and if this person was a racist in their actions, yes there are legal ramifications, consequences, and definitions. but i don't want to conflate that with this very real, unconscious racism that happens. and it happens because of systemic oppression. what i mean by that is api's
have been systematically erased from the narrative, from hollywood to the federal government. in 2009, there was a study that showed we are not even included in the definition of some racial minorities. our education, our history is not taught, our grief, our excellence, and of course, mainstream media does not cover these systems enough. all of these institutions have a part to play in what it means to be in asian american and all of this plays into unconscious bias. sara: it is interesting to get your take on that and the perspective is for sure important. we and other news organizations have documented there are what seem like random acts of violence across the country against elderly asian americans.
it does not seem to have a rhyme or reason, but you talked about the underlying racism of asian americans who don't feel seen or have not been seen, in some ways. i guess i am wondering, what do you see as potential solutions to this? it is unclear if we can put a solution forward or if you have to agree on what the cause is. i am wondering how you see it. >> for me, the problem is invisibility, therefore the solution is visibility. it means representation in systems i have mentioned, so i want to ask, why isn't the education system in america teaching about apis?
in order to combat what is going on right now, we need to be seen in our full humanity. what was so terrible about one of those recent videos that went viral was there was this asian woman who was violently beaten but there were bystanders who stood there and did nothing. for me, it was the bystanders that hurt so much, because it spoke volumes that they did not come to a community members aid. and if anyone were to watch that video, i think they would agree there were two crimes. one was the act of violence itself, to was the choice not to do anything about it. for folks wondering how in this moment they can help, know that it is so incredibly important that we speak of in this moment. speak to the consciousness of this country, because it
matters. sara: thank you, amanda. you have a strong perspective and thank you for bringing it to us today in this conversation. next up i'm going to turn to my colleague hope king who will continue the conversation. >> hello, i am hope king, a business reporter at axios. now joining us from houston texas, the executive director of run aapi, it is good to see you. you have been on the ground conducting outreach, mobilizing people young voters, for years now. so i really want to start by asking how you are doing, how the past few months have been to you compared to the past few years. >> i appreciate you asking.
it is still a hard question to answer. for a lot of us, it is having to almost relive a lot of our trauma. there are days when i'm just so exhausted. there are other days when we feel so much gratitude for the community and other days when you are just tired. in this moment, i am very grateful that this conversation is happening and and very grateful we have platforms like this to have these conversations to be real and honest with how a lot of us are feeling, but i am just tired. today i am feeling tired. >> that makes a lot of sense. you have been on the ground especially in these key battleground states. you are currently medicating with the office of emergency services. you were the -- were a coordinator director for the
office of georgia and saw -- and oversaw communications during the runoff election time. he tells what the state of voter engagement is and how that engagement can or can't help with addressing the trend of violence we are seeing? linh: for a lot of us organizers, these conversations and the realization of what anti-asian violence and racism look like, we have known this and felt this for years. even for community members, we have always understood what this moment meant for us. i think more specifically, in the electoral organizing space, recognizing the power of asian americans, i still think we have only been able to really recognize the tip of the iceberg. when it comes to investment,
outreach, and strategies, bringing us on board and bring us real funding and resources, it takes long term investment to actualize and galvanize this power. i had such a tremendous privilege recently working in georgia and intimately understanding the asian-pacific diaspora in georgia, and again, some of the most resilient communities i have ever had a chance to work with were in georgia. we really felt that in november, but in the runoff election, you really see them come out taking care of their own and making sure we were just able to vote. we are still just getting at the surface with what organizing looks like. >> some of that funding you mentioned in the past, translating materials into different linkages for different
cultures when the asian community, a lot of that has to be done to even engage in the first place. but i want to talk about something that maybe we have not been talking about enough. but it was not the right time. there has been a lot of pain in the community and grieving and morning. we did talk previously about some of the tougher internal issues that maybe you feel now our time to call out. what are they? >> a lot of us identify as asian. we have understood that, to some degree, a lot of the issues, the racism, everything is just so deeply rooted in white supremacy. in a system that is meant to oppress us against one another. the intersectional conversations we have a lot, the more
political groups, folks that are online on twitter, on facebook, we see this dialogue happening a lot, but for us who are organizing, these conversations need to happen within our own families. i can't help but think even of my own mom, who came over as a war refugee, who still almost embodies that almost survival mode. having to need to assimilate, almost forgetting where we came from, and that anti-blackness that exists within our own people. and you are right in that with everything that is happening the last few weeks, the xenophobia, the feeling of always being this foreigner in america, it has manifested in such violent ways,
and yet i feel the conversation and what white supremacy is and how we got to this moment needs to happen at home. it needs to happen in the communities we go to in the restaurants we support. if you are chatting with a community member in orange county or here in houston, it is often hard to think that they are ready to have this dialogue. hope: and among the genders in the community, so much pain. linh: absolutely. and with the stop asian hate #, you see a lot of new conversations happening, but you also see a lot of conversations led by asian women.
asian women who have been advocating for immigrant rights, reproductive justice rights. we want to see a lot more support from asian men. these are conversations that often don't happen enough or not -- or are not explicitly being said, but it is usually asian women who are willing to do the work and are on the ground. whether it is a gender divide, a generational divide, even within the umbrella of who identifies as an asian american pacific islander, it is a complicated space for so many of us. i truly feel a lot of organizers want to anchor the conversation in this moment and almost redefine what it means to be asian today and in america, in
southern states like georgia and texas. now is the moment for us to keep things as mainstream as possible. that has to be part of it. hope: we have to leave it here for today, but we thank you so much for joining axios. linh: thank you so much. hope: now i would like to bring in nguyen and sara. >> before we get to the why it matters, i know there are a lot of great questions. there was one that related a little bit to a conversation that you had. sara: i'm glad you brought this up. we got a great question about how strong are the laws to prosecute incidents that we have seen over the past year.
there is a question around how strong are the laws to prosecute crimes like this how they are categorized. niala, i want to know what you thought. niala: i think we have to take a step back and go to categorization even in the data. that was a big part of president biden's executive action he issued, just data collection. first of all, there is not a standard definition. we have a standard definition but federal agencies are working with state and local agencies to collect the data because that is something we don't even know. it is something activists have focused on as well because data isn't being collected by the government. >> it's hard to get people to respond to these census
questions, for example. funding needs to be directed in those areas, and having to fight for those funds to get those questions translated into various limiters so people can respond accurately. sara: one thing i wanted to bring up was the role of asian american women and that was something i was discussing with senator chang. she wanted to highlight the role of not only lawmakers and offices, but activists. niala: she mentioned this as an issue that is maybe time to bring up, because there has been time for grieving and morning to gently call out those in the community for continuing the trope of hyper sexualization of women and to acknowledge how much they are doing on the ground, doing this work.
i think she thinks the time has come to address those things. sara: this came up in my conversation in a different way with amanda who is not even years old and started an impressive organization advocating on behalf of sexual assault. we saw from her perspective the parallel of the reluctance of victims to come forward. fortunately because of the result of terrible incidents, we have seen generational change. asian americans acting out and being more outspoken than their parents or grandparents would have been. >> there is a lot of intersectionality with all of this, which i think is another important part of the take away from our conversation today. thank you for joining me and thanking -- and thank all of you
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