Hi everyone! My name is Katelyn Wo and I am a sophomore at IU studying neuroscience and public health. I also work as a student assistant at the Asian Culture Center and as the advocacy chair for the Asian American Association. Thank you so much to everyone in attendance today for coming out to support and uplift the Asian community of IU and Bloomington.
When I heard the news about this attack was in complete shock. I remember re-reading the article multiple times making sure what I read was correct and not being able to stop my hands from shaking. I remember immediately texting my Asian friends and making sure everyone was safe. This type of fear of simply existing is truly something I have never felt before. The fact that the attack was unprovoked, from behind, in the middle of the day with numerous bystanders ignorant and perhaps unwilling to help on a bus that so many Asian students have to take every single day to get to classes is horrifying.
Imagine standing in the shoes of the victim and feeling her hurt, her anger, her fear of existing. This pattern of anti-Asian hate that we have seen over and over in Bloomington, but a pattern that unfortunately is not widely talked about.
In 2016, an 18-year-old student, Yue Zhang, was attacked with a hatchet by a man who wanted to bring about "an ethnic cleansing" in Nashville, Ind. In 1999, graduate student Won Joon Yoon was shot to death outside a church by a self-proclaimed white supremacist.Us Asian students at IU have been called names, harassed on the street, discriminated against in classes, confused by Professors, disregarded, ignored, and avoided.
It is suffice to say even in our IU bubble, Bloomington is not and has never been a safe place for Asian and Asian American people, but with events like these we see the Asian community banding together and standing with one another.
Immediately when AAA and other Asian students on campus heard, people reached out to each other and started offering rides and people to walk with when they did not feel safe. Conversations between students and with faculty began to process and reflect on what had happened. Campus departments started really stepping up, not just providing statements but also mental health support and resources for those that needed it. The sense of community and solidarity really was there but the challenge now is how do we continue this work throughout the interim and work towards positive intersectionality and cultural competency. How can we support culture centers like the Asian Culture Center not only in times of crisis.
How can we take some of the load off their shoulders when responding to the endless amounts of media requests and questions and the work to be done to improve our campus? Can we support students by providing them spaces to be heard and to reflect in their classes by providing professors with language and teaching materials to accurately speak on current events affecting our communities, especially our minority students to feel like they are seen? Can we provide adequate, free, and culturally competent mental health services to those students who need it? Are there ways we can improve campus and Bloomington life by ensuring students feel safe by providing transportation? And finally, how can the IU community take measures to uplift Asian and Asian American students and faculty by using inclusive language and practices that unite instead of divide.
Wanted to quickly thank Melanie and Sarah for all of their hard work at the ACC. They are working so so hard for every single one of us andI am so thankful to have them here. Without them none of this would be possible and I know there is so much good in store. It really means so much to see that so many people careand are helping to show their support for the victim. Thank you.
"Would there ever be a space where race was not my most salient identity?" asked Danyelle J. Reynolds, a Black woman, in response to racial discrimination. Her words resonated with me because I, —and I am sure that many of you can relate—have wondered whether I would ever find a space where I was not stereotyped and marginalized by my physical appearance. Whether it be through outright, violent acts of racism or microaggressions, our personal characteristics, our humanity are overlooked. People don't see me. They see an Asian American. We are suffocating from the expectations placed upon us. As soon as we begin to heal from the hate inflicted upon us, a new injury opens the wound.
As People of Color, it is true that race and ethnicity play a role in our identities. Let’s admit the truth: the recent stabbing would not have happened if the student was white. The student was attacked because he was Asian and for no other reason. Furthermore, the perpetrator justified the attack by saying it was “one less person to blow up our country.” Notice how Billie Davissaidourcountry. To Americans like Billie Davis, People of Color are not part of her country. Weare perpetually, foreigners. By virtue of our appearance, we do not belong. There is no denying the fact that in the United States, we face institutionalized and pervasive oppression.
So, what can we do? Thinking that we will never find a place where we belong due to our race is to me, a despairing perspective. While anger, hatred, outrage, hopelessness, and the countless other emotions that take hold of us are valid and important to acknowledge, we should channel these emotions toward enacting positive change. To regain power from oppressors, we need to first name injustices and make it understood that what was done was unacceptable. We need to make our voices heard. Without doing that, the attack of our fellow students and the hurt that all of us have experienced in different ways is rendered invisible. This is why I am holding this microphone and why I encourage you to speak up against injustices. While it may be intimidating to do so, it is the necessary first step.
The next step is to find community and engage in open dialogue. Let’s work together to take small steps at uprooting the foundational racism instilled in America. Let’s listen to each other's feelings and experiences, and attempt to understand the collective pain we all share. After empowering ourselves and others, we must take action to resist and change oppressive systems. All the microaggressions and racial hate that we have grown to internalize, which manifested in the horrific stabbing incident, may never completely disappear. However, if we name and speakout against injustices, find strength in the AAPI community, engage in open dialogue, and take action, we will be able to create a better future.
Thank you all so much for being there with us. My name is Wenxi. I am an international student from Beijing. I came to the U.S. when I was 17, a similar age to the student who was attacked. I would like to share with you some of my experiences as a Chinese student in the States.
When I was a freshman in college, a white student followed me and sang the Siamese Cat Song from Disney all the way along. When I celebrated my first lunar new year in the U.S., my American peers tore my couplet off my dorm’s door. When my mom first visited the U.S., a random person on the street yelled at us, telling us to “go back to where [we] belong.” During the peak of Covid, two random guys came straight to me, saying, “Covid is coming.” And now, I feel fear crawling from my toe to my head as I pass a bus station. Each time, my confusion and grief kept piling up. I kept reflecting on myself, thinking about what I did wrong that deserved this. I changed my name to a more Americanized one; I practiced my English so I could communicate better; I even learned about football 101. I did all this trying not to be so different. But the thing is, I cannot really hide.
After the attack happened, I was asked how I felt about it. I feel so tired. I feel like a hamster running in a circle. We rallied up for the Asian attacks that happened in New York during Covid; we rallied up for people who were murdered in the Atlanta shooting; and now we need to do it all over again. I am tired of why this is still happening here.
I urge my fellow international students to unite together with the domestic AAPI students. This is not only an American issue but an urgent threat coming after all of us. Remember Yue Zhang, who was stabbed because of Asian hate in Nashville, IN? We need to stick together to ensure this will ever never happen again.
I demand that the government and media be more cautious with using discriminatory words and generalizing words when describing Asia, especially China. I challenge American people to think about the difference between China, the Chinese government, and the Chinese. The Chinese government is not China as a country, and the Chinese government is not Chinese people. Please see us as individuals instead of just a label. It is unfair to make us face double jeopardy.
I ask all our brothers and sisters from different communities for help. Please call out a harassing behavior when you see one. Please stay with us and fight with us against white supremacy. I ask my Asian brothers and sisters to ask for help, speak out, and report any incident they may see or experience. No microaggression is too micro.
Together let’s make this rally count. I sincerely hope that the next time we stand together, we are doing it for a different reason.