Asian Students in Action holds all-community reflection

Fallon Dern

The Asian Students in Action (ASiA) club hosted an all-community reflection in response to the uptick of anti-Asian hate crimes Friday. The affinity group, lead by Mia Shelton ’21, Chelsea Cho ’21, Iris Huang ’21 and Kimberly Wang ’21, assembled a team of students to lead breakout room discussions . 127 students, faculty and staff of varying racial backgrounds attended.

The leaders, Shelton, Cho, Huang and Wang began the meeting with a presentation on the history of Anti-Asian violence. Shelton said that it’s important to conduct conversation about these tragedies due to how often they are ignored by large news networks.

“I think our main goal is really about awareness,” Shelton said. “Mainstream media often does not publicize or bring awareness to racism/hate crimes against Asians despite the acts being clearly reprehensible. In ASiA, we have had many club conversations about how we feel about many of the attacks and the history and systems that perpetuate them. We feel that this is a time to bring this conversation to the whole community.”

The participants then took a moment of silence for the lives lost in the domestic terror attacks in Atlanta. After the minute had passed, participants turned their cameras back on to enter discussion rooms about the current climate of anti-Asian sentiment. Huang said she was surprised by the amount of people who chose to attend.

“It was overwhelming but gratifying to see such a high turnout,” Huang said. “It was way higher than we had anticipated. We hope we were able to provide a safe space for our fellow Asian-American students and faculty and a space where others could listen and learn.”

ASiA member Avery Kim ’23, a Korean-American sophomore who helped facilitate a breakout room, said she is grateful to have had this opportunity.

“Working on the discussion has been so rewarding because taking the time to reflect on issues pertaining to Asian-American hate has given me a broader perspective on what is actually happening, what exactly others are feeling and what we can do to help,” Kim said. “I hope that that it becomes a true reflection of the wide range of sentiments that each individual has to contribute, and that it brings a larger sphere of awareness to our community and beyond.”

Both Asian and non-Asian participants said they gained a lot from the experience. Joy Ho ’22, who helped organize the event with ASiA leaders, said many members of her group were moved to tears upon listening to the stories of others.

Naalah Cohen ’23, a non-Asian attendee of the event, said that she learned so much about the Asian experience from the meeting.

“I thought that the event was extremely interesting and much needed in the community,” Cohen said. “It was extremely enlightening to hear more about Asian American experiences and I am grateful to ASiA for providing the community with that space.”

The event helped bring together the school community

Chloe Fribourg ’23 and Owen Kim ’23, two Asian-American students who are not ASiA club members, said that they were impressed at the group’s articulate discussion leaders.

“I am really glad that ASiA was able to host an event like this.” Fribourg said. “It not only gave Asian-American students a safe space to express our feelings about the hate crimes, but also provided non-Asian students an opportunity to stand in solidarity with the Asian community and get insight on how to be a better ally.”

Kim said that the increase in Anti-Asian hatred inspired him to attend the event. Like Fribourg, he said he was grateful that ASiA brought these issues to the community.

“In light of the violence against Asian-Americans, I was extremely eager to attend an event where I would be able to voice my opinion and anger towards these hate crimes.” Kim said. “Not only did this event highlight the long history of racially motivated crimes against Asians in America but also gave people a platform to respond and discuss their feelings on the issue.”