“Say it proud, say it loud/ Stop the Asian Hate right now!” Hundreds of voices were echoing together at Museumplein in Amsterdam, on March 27th. All of those voices united, fighting for the same cause: stopping the hate on Asian people.
Some battles are not meant to be fought alone, but sometimes we find ourselves in a vortex where it’s hard to speak up. I’ve heard many stories that afternoon, while everyone was reunited in the park to show their support for the cause.
“I got spit in the face twice”
“I randomly get called hing hung chao while I am walking down the street”
“People raise their middle finger at me for no reason”
When we see people acting like that around us, whether it is towards us or someone else on the street, we usually do nothing. We see what happens, and still, we do nothing. I think this is what hurts the most, feeling powerless, like you have no way to even think of defending yourself. If I am a young Asian woman walking down the street and some random person spits in my face I will just turn away, head down, walking fast.
‘I wish I was braver’ a young girl told me on Saturday ‘I wish I had the strength to defend myself, to speak up’.
Her words are very important, we all want to be bold enough to fight injustice, but sometimes you simply have to be smarter and realize that there is a time and a place for every fight, and certainly, when you are by yourself, on the street, it is not the right time. It’s important to speak up but it’s also important to be patient and do it at the right time. Because I can already see the headlines: ‘Asian girl killed on the street last night’. When your life is at stake you have to be careful, you have to plan and make a smart move.
Getting Your Power Back
Walking away doesn’t necessarily mean being weak and scared. It means owning your power and realizing that while you are alone, in the middle of the street, is not the right time to use it. We all have a certain amount of power and strength, but it’s not infinite. This is why we should choose our time to use it carefully.
Because one person will hardly change the world, but if one person has a friend, that has a friend, that has a friend the world should start to tremble. A group of people has way more power than we can imagine.
Saturday was the right time. And it was again, on April 10th, when people gathered together for the second time to fight against Asian hate. That is the right time to speak up, to share your story in order to inspire others. Because one person will hardly change the world, but if one person has a friend, that has a friend, that has a friend the world should start to tremble. A group of people has way more power than we can imagine.
The Power of A Thousand Voices
“Asian or not we are glad you are here” said the organizers of the protest when we were all gathered on the grass. Sometimes we might think that some battles are just not ours to fight, I am not Asian so why should I participate in the protest? Won’t I be out of place? Absolutely not. If you were lucky enough to be born of a race that is not discriminated against, you shouldn’t do nothing, but make sure that everybody else is treated equally, with love and respect. You have to stand up with those that happen to be less lucky.
Without you, it wouldn’t have been the same. Always, always think that your presence will change everything. It doesn’t take much, you just have to show up.
Sometimes I might think that my presence in one protest won’t change anything, I mean, who am I? Just one person will not make a big change after all. However, what if you are that one person that changes everything? What if you are the person that makes the protest reach one thousand participants? Without you, it wouldn’t have been the same. Always, always think that your presence will change everything. It doesn’t take much, you just have to show up.
Many people talked at the protest, as they felt the need to be brave and share their stories so that we could better understand what they have to go through every day.
Eileen, a young woman, explained how her mother moved to Europe from Asia with the only goal of taking care of her children. We would expect she felt welcome in the new country, however, she was discriminated against from the very beginning. She felt like an outsider, new to a place where she didn’t know the language and the culture, treated like she did not belong here. She worked in a restaurant and she was constantly made fun of.
“It hurts to think how people make fun of her eyes, food, accent. It hurts me too because she is a smart and sweet woman” said Eileen, referring to her mother.
It is terrible to realize that we live in a world where certain people think they have the power to humiliate others and take away their right to respect. Instead of pushing away people that are “different” from us, we should do the opposite. We should walk a step closer, talk to them, understand where they come from and what their story is. I am pretty sure that we might just realize we are not that different after all.
The Weight on Our Powerless Shoulders
The protest on the 27th of March was the first in support of Asian people in the Netherlands. Even though the discrimination has been going on for decades, it is only now that people have found the courage to speak up. Out of the eight, six Asian women were killed as a result of the shooting on the 16th of March in Atlanta, USA. Six women. These six women were so much more than just Asian: they were mothers, wives, friends, people. They had a life, they had a daily routine, they had a family. They were taken away from everything and everyone.
Young people often say how beautiful it is that now we have the possibility to go and study the world, to explore and be in contact with different cultures. We proudly say how much we enjoy getting to know new, different people. And yet, those eight women were shot by a 21 year old guy. He is my age and probably close to your age too. He owned a gun, claimed to have a sex addiction, and that those places where he killed were a temptation for him. For him. All he was thinking about, apparently, was himself.
Faith is Powerful
We claim we are better, we believe we can make the world a better place, and yet a guy that could have been my friend, or your friend, a guy from our generation, killed eight people. Yes, of course, we are not him. But I can still feel the weight of his gesture on my shoulders. I expect better from my generation. I expect inclusivity. I expect open minds. I expect acceptance and understanding. The world is filled with bad people, people that simply don’t want to understand the importance of respect and appreciation of diversity. We still live in a world dominated by white supremacy, but I have faith we can change that.
The protests and manifestations that are happening right now show that we are fighting for a cause that matters to many and we shouldn’t stop. Keep showing up. Keep being nice. Keep helping others. Together we have the power to do great things.
Cover: Asiah Capponi
Edited by: Andrada Pop and Pritha Ray