Neighbors Unite to Protect Vulnerable People in Asian American Community

After a series of recent attacks in Oakland, Calif., Neighbors stand together against anti-Asian prejudices by marching with their most vulnerable neighbors.

Through social media, Jess Owyoung co-founded and organized the Compassion Volunteer Group in Oakland, where people can sign up to chaperone elderly people of Asian descent, especially in targeted areas like Chinatown. It was launched as the country has seen an increase in the number of attacks on Asians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

“Anyone can apply for a chaperone, you don’t have to be a senior. They don’t have to be Asian, ”Owyoung said.

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Owyoung said when the program first launched on February 7, 2021, they had around 900 volunteers. However, since the Atlanta shooting earlier this week that killed eight people, including six Asian women, she said 300 more people had signed up.

“I am in fact [a] Fourth generation Chinese American. My grandparents were therefore born in the United States. This is why it is so hard for me to see elderly Asian people being hurt, ”said Owyoung. “It doesn’t matter if your family came here 10 generations ago or a generation ago… We are all fighting for the same dream. “

The nonprofit and advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reported Tuesday that the organization has received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March 2020 and February 2021, which include reports of verbal harassment and physical assault. .

As a result, programs like Compassion in Oakland started popping up across the country. In Brooklyn, Peter Kerre founded SafeWalks NYC in January in response to a wave of one-sided attacks in his neighborhood.

“My whole vision behind Safewalks was to try to inspire everyone to step up… and to pay attention to fellow New Yorkers,” said Kerre, who said he was motivated after the recent attacks on the American community. of Asian origin. “I knew immediately what it must be or how it must feel for a lot of them. The underlying foundation of everything we do is empathy and compassion.

Among major cities, New York City had the largest annual increase in reported hate crimes against Asians, according to an analysis of New York Police Department data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Huge Ma, founder of Turbovax, a website that helps people access open appointments for COVID-19 vaccines, said he was not immune to anti-Asian biases.

“Growing up, even in Queens, I was not immune to anti-Asian prejudices. I grew up with people who casually commented on my slanted eyes, yellow skin, ‘name Ching-Chong’, ”Ma said.“ There was a stab in Chinatown. I knew another day it could easily have been me.

Ma has decided to take a stand in honor of recent victims of these hate crimes by suspending Turbovax on February 27, 2021 and organizing a fundraiser in honor of nonprofits that fight anti-Asian prejudice.

“I wanted to illustrate (…) that if we as a country do not listen to the concerns of Asian Americans, we also risk losing the contributions of Asian Americans,” Ma said, who also shared resources for people facing Asian -Discrimination on Twitter.

Ma said he raised $ 150,000 for hateful anti-Asian nonprofits and was “really grateful.” He added that he hopes his success with fundraising will set a precedent for future initiatives, which he believes will make a difference.

He said, “I just hope my experience can show others that as long as you take the initiative and stand up for what you believe in, I believe you can make real change no matter if you think it can. be big or small. “

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