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The racist anti-Asian hate that has long impacted our communities spurred Peer Support Space’s Lotus group (a peer-led space for LGBTQ+ Asians to build friendships and support) to invite in the community to create a Virtual Vigil Against Asian Hate.
This communally-crafted event will have speakers, performances, and calls to action. Additionally, a resource and information guide will be released at the vigil that was created in a communal process through input from Asian peers and leadership both in Central Florida and around the nation. The guide will include mental health resources recommended by and for the Asian community as well as topics such as Asian American contributions to society, the model minority myth, unpacking the Asian monolith, and the history of Asian violence. Following our main event, for those wanting to be with community, we will break into small groups where we can take turns holding space for one another.
Organizers for the the event include Peer Support Space, Orlando Queer and Trans Asian Association, Dream Defenders, the City of Orlando, Representative Anna Eskamani, Asia Trend, and the One Orlando Alliance.
The heinous hate crime that took place in Atlanta on March 16th 2021 is not an isolated event. The amount of hate crimes on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is disturbing but for many within the AAPI community, we are not surprised. We have seen a rise in hate crimes since our last presidential administration, where dehumanizing and hateful rhetoric towards the Asian community was and continues to be commonplace and that is not okay.
Since last year, Peer Support Space has been uplifting attention to the increased violence against our community members spurred by the anti-Asian rhetoric that has been so recklessly thrown around to our peril – we attempted to circulate two press releases in 2020 on the subject that were ignored by local media. We ask now, in the wake of this violent tragedy, that our broader community listen to our words when we speak of our pain. Believe our lived experience.
The virtual event will take place on Thursday, March 25th at 6PM (EST). We will be remembering and honoring all Asian Americans and Pacifici Islanders that have been impacted by hate crimes and violence. We will be holding space for one another as we process and grieve big emotions while also calling out the xenophobia, racism, classism, and misogyny that ultimately led to the death of 8 individuals, 6 who were Asian women on March 16th. This violent crime was rooted in the hyper-sexualizatiion of Asian women, and the violence that sex workers or anyone perceived to be doing sex work face.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders come from many different backgrounds, stories, and cultures. We are too often referred to just as “Asian”, overlooking the unique and beautiful diversity of the Asian diaspora.
The hateful language and violent acts towards the AAPI community, can not, and should not be normalized. Listen to and stick up for your AAPI community members, invest in and support them, educate yourself, and encourage others to get educated too.
Peer Support Space aims to always center those most deeply impacted, and honors the lived experience of our community members. So, in the words of Bryant Nguyen, Co-Facilitator of Lotus “These heinous attacks highlight the impact that leadership has had on increasing racially motivated attacks. We must put pressure on those in leadership to defend the people that they have been sworn to protect. We must demand that not only our voices be heard but action must be put in place to protect all people of color…As for the community, we must remember pointing fingers at whole groups of people only brings unneeded tension and does not bring justice to the victims. We must overlook the qualities that make us different and affirm our traits that bring us together. We would like to honor not only those who have been lost, hurt, and impacted by the shootings in Atlanta but all of those who have been affected by the rise in Asian hate across the country.”
Our advocacy doesn’t stop here. Following the vigil, Peer Support Space will be launching an Asian Mental Health Matters Movement, an Asian-centered advocacy initiative, led by and for the community, aimed at giving voice to our struggles and advancing the safety, and mental well-being of all Asian folx. Those interested in joining this movement are encouraged to email Yasmin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To our Asian chosen family, comrades, and pals – we love you, we are holding space for you in our hearts, please take care of yourselves.