Grieving together for lives lost to anti-Asian hate

By Gilda P. Balan, Correspondent

California and New York are the two US states which host the largest number of Asians and Asian-Americans. As such, they are also the two states where the largest number of hate crimes against the community have occurred in recent years.

Last week, the Asian American Foundation held a vigil in Lower Manhattan to remember and pay homage to the victims of anti-Asian hate, specifically those who lost their lives.

Held at the historic Union Square park, the event had local leaders and elected officials address the demand of the crowd in attendance for a safe space where they could grieve over the latest tragedies involving the community.

Still fresh in their minds was the Monterey Park shooting, where 11 were killed while celebrating the Lunar New Year.

The speakers talked about coping with trauma caused by the series of anti-Asian attacks, and the Asian experience in the US, especially in the past few years of the pandemic when attacks on Americans of Asian descent went into overdrive.

Asian American Foundation executive director Jo-Ann Yoo said, “What’s happening throughout our country is not OK. This is not normal. Nobody should get shot at a dance party, nobody should get shot at work, nobody should get shoved off a train platform, no one should die in their own apartment, and no one should die in the street calling for their mother.”

She was referencing the most recent hate crimes such as the murder of Christina Yuna Lee who was stabbed to death in her apartment in Chinatown, and Michelle Alyssa Go who was pushed into the path of an oncoming train in Times Square last year.

Councilmember Christopher Marte said many New Yorkers from the Asian community have told him that they are afraid of going out alone in the city that has been their home for the longest time, some since birth.

Said Marte: “Almost a dozen people come to my office a week and tell us that they are scared.  We get seniors who say they can’t go out and do tai chi because they don’t want to be alone.”

The one day event in New York City offered healing through musical performances. It also aimed to celebrate the lives of the victims at the same time hoping to raise awareness and prevent move racist attacks from taking place in one of the most diverse cities in the US.

For those who have been left behind after the deaths of their loved ones, the shared grief is one way of easing the pain of a loss that need not have happened.