In one of the largest rallies the city has seen since Black Lives Matter protests last summer, about 300 people gathered, most wearing black, to mourn the eight people, including six Asian American women, killed by a shooter in Atlanta Tuesday.
The rally and candlelight vigil, set in the Connections Garden in Riverfront Park, also pointed out Spokane’s three Asian sister cities in Japan, China and South Korea.
The vigil was one of many nationwide protests after the Atlanta killings, the Washington Post reported.
As people held signs – including one that asked, “We are not silent but are you listening?” – Ping Ping, a Chinese American professor of sociology at Spokane Falls Community College, spoke to the crowd.
“My heart has been broken many times,” Ping said.
She described learning about the 1982 killing of Vincent Chin and hearing Chin’s mother speak.
“Tears rushed out of my eyes,” Ping said. “It was at that moment I saw myself as an Asian American. As a mother, I need to fight like a mother.”
Ping described several killings of Asian Americans and tied them in with the spree shooting in Atlanta this week. She spoke about feeling inferior due to her Chinese accent, and children making fun of her daughter’s eyes.
Speakers from the group United We Stand, formed in response to anti-Asian racism at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, spoke about the “model minority” stereotype surrounding many Asian Americans, saying this stereotype makes it harder to speak up for fear of becoming targeted in the way other minorities are.
Vina Cathcart, one of the founders of United We Stand, said there is not one Asian American experience. Many cultures and ethnicities are encompassed under the term. The other leaders of United We Stand include people of Pacific Islander, Hmong, Vietnamese and Chinese heritage, she said.
“Every race, every culture, every ethnicity has unique challenges we must acknowledge,” Cathcart said. “If one organ starts to fail, the whole body starts to fail.”
Cathcart said rally participants showing up to stand against anti-Asian hate should also step up for other minority groups, rather than compete. She said the organization’s goal is to unite rather than divide.
“It’s tragic that it took this horrific event to bring us together,” she said, “but we are together now and forever.”
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