Image by (Leticia Luna/The Citizen)

May 4th, 2021

By Tayler Shaw, Staff Writer

On April 27, Merritt College held an event titled, “A Call To Action Against AAPI Hate.” The aim for this event was to bring awareness to the issues of hate crimes that have been plaguing the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community since the beginning of 2020. Important expert panelists attended this event to speak on AAPI and answer any questions. Briana Wing and Freddie Ika were the moderators for this forum event. 

The first expert panelist was Dr. Russell Jeung, who is now a Co-Founder of ‘Stop AAPI hate’. Jeung does work for affirmative action, and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council. Jeung is a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University, as well as the author of articles and books involving race and religion.

The second expert panelist was Larry Lariosa. Lariosa is a mental health therapist with a license in Marriage and Family Therapy who has been in private practice as a psychotherapist in Oakland since 2001. He has provided mental health services in a variety of diverse settings, including University of California, San Francisco Unified School District, Merritt College and Berkeley Community College.

The final expert panelist, Michael Omi, author of “Racial Formation in the United States”, Omi is a professor of Ethnic Studies and the chair of Asian American Research Center at University of California.

Many topics were touched upon, each panelist answered a question and gave so much information and background. 

Larry Lariosa did a wonderful job talking about the psychological effects and the physical health. Something that he said really stuck out and I’ll quote it below. 

“The psychological effects of discrimination, obviously, have great implications for not just our self, but also our physical health,” Lariosa said. 

The racial insults and the blaming, the threats towards this community have always been so unnecessary, Personal attacks create negative baggage that can really affect you mentally and physically. Especially  racially motivated. That can really throw you for a loop. Lariosa went on with how being Asian American and working with Asian American clients can present its own challenges. There are often cultural patterns that we learn to internalize in order to cope. But if the coping mechanism disappears, there are only more feelings of shame and isolation.

Lariosa further impressed his willingness to help and to be an emotional outlet for his community. With the rise in hate, I’m sure the offer to help is refreshing for some.

“I mean this is what America needs right now, this sense of shared identity, common good, um, and, um, shared humanity,” Dr. Russell Jeung said.

“Essentially this kind of bimodal pattern of race has meant that how Asians are positioned or situated in a prevailing racial order has often gone unacknowledged or undiscussed,” Omi said.

What Omi had said really stuck out: the larger pattern of racial prejudice isn’t being discussed or acknowledged. Racial hate that is building should be brought into the open and should have more light shed upon it, the Asian American community has gone through so much targeted hate, a change is long overdue.

And as Jeung said, this is what America needs to be discussing: our shared humanity, common good and shared identity. 

We are stronger than this, and there’s a lot of power behind collective action and standing together. There’s most definitely work that needs to be done around this racial hate and we need to have more discussions surrounding AAPI hate. To sum up, in our communities as a whole we have to do better. In regards to the Asian American community, you are not alone. This shouldn’t have to be talked about, some folks have been taught to spread racial hate and push others down. Some people have been taught they can be strong by targeting others, but we need to push back against that way of thinking. It’s gone on for far too long. 

If you wish to watch this forum event yourself or you want more of this discussion, you can access the full event at this link and also check out the AAPI website at this link. For more information in general, you can reach out to [email protected].