Staff Perspective

by Gail Quan, OneJustice Director

As someone who could be viewed as an example of the ”model minority”—child of Asian immigrants and raised in a working-class community in East Los Angeles who attended a top-rated college and became a lawyer—the recent attention to violence against Asian Americans reminds me that the creation of an equitable society remains a distant dream. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the economic and racial inequities of our society and resulted in the continued othering of Asian Americans.

Violence against Asian Americans is not new to me. The recent incidents remind me of the too numerous acts of violence committed against my family—my sister ran for her life when a man pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t get into his car; my father was knifed when he was mugged; and my grandfather died from injuries he sustained when he was assaulted and pushed down a flight of stairs.

The fascination with the “exoticism” of Asian women is also not new to me. Men introducing themselves and expressing an interest in visiting Tokyo became such a common occurrence that I learned it was easier to walk away and not mention that I was Chinese.

And the fear of being harmed during this pandemic because I am Asian is not new to me either. As stories of attacks and harassment against Asian Americans increased during shelter in place, I had a disturbing encounter that was frightening enough to make me develop a new routine that I still follow. I no longer leave my home alone without my partner knowing where I am going and without texting him that I arrived safely. I also always text him to let him know when he should expect me home or ask that he pick me up. Prior to the pandemic, I never took such steps. I used to feel safe in my neighborhood.

Despite the violence and its reminder of the long history of harm against people of color, I remain hopeful that this moment in time will bring us closer to a united society where all people regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ableness and religion are treated equitably, and that I and everyone else impacted by the violence in our country will again feel safe outside our homes. The support the Asian community has received from other organizations such as Black Lives Matter and the NAACP demonstrate that Asian Americans are not alone in standing against the violence they face. And this gives me hope.

As Inaugural Poet Amanda Gordon wrote:
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew,
That even as we hurt, we hoped,
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together.
Not because we will never again know
But because we will never again sow

OneJustice has compiled a list of resources dedicated to supporting the communities most affected, reporting on continued racialized violence, and teaching bystander intervention strategies:

Advancing Justice-Atlanta has a donations page for the Georgia shooting victims and their families:

Advancing Justice- Atlanta’s community response statement:

Stop AAPI Hate is collecting data on hate incidents; the website has a reporting form available in 11 languages and also has reports and other resources available:

Stop AAPI Hate’s fiscal sponsor is the Bay Area nonprofit civil rights organization, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA):

Advancing Justice-LA are providing assistance to people directly impacted by discrimination in housing, employment, consumer contracts, as well as other matters:

The California Asian Pacific American Bar Association has been holding a series of webinars on APAs and hate. Recordings for the first 2 events and links to register for future events are available:

Hollaback! has bystander intervention trainings (they have specific ones addressing anti-Asian harassment but also many other types, including addressing gender harassment and police sponsored violence and anti-Black harassment), and also guides and other helpful resources:

Oakland Chinatown Coalition brings together cultural organizations to advocate for neighborhood improvement projects and community engagement. (NBC News):

Donate to The AAPI Community Fund, which benefits a growing list of organizations, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta; CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities; Center for Pan Asian Community Services and Oakland Chinatown Ambassadors Program:

Support the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA), which promotes the mental health and well being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities: