Students Gather to Honor Atlanta Victims, Combat Anti-Asian Violence

vigil

Students organized a vigil on March 30 to reflect on a recent attack against Asians and Asian Americans. (Photo by Nathaniel Pugh ’21)

On March 30, more than 150 students gathered outside Usdan University Center for a community vigil to mourn the victims of the March 16 Atlanta spa shootings and to create a safe space for Asian and Asian-American students to discuss the rise of anti-Asian violence and be heard by the community.

The vigil was organized by Emily Chen ’23, Kevin Le ’22, and graduate student Emily Moon, in conjunction with members of the Asian American Student Collective.

Students read poems, played music, and shared their reflections during the event. Towards the end, the organizers gave anyone moved to speak the opportunity to do so.

“These eight lives had to be taken for us to finally speak up and have conversations about the struggles of an Asian person living in the U.S.,” Gloria Kang ’22 said at the vigil. “We’re always moving on despite the losses, the silencing, the killing; and we are forgotten. When we just move on, we ignore the long history of white supremacy, misogyny, sexual violence. And we erase colonialism and military expansion in Asia.”

Moon shared with the community that she felt terrified about being harassed because of her Asian identity, especially at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I somehow feel both visible and highly invisible at the same time,” Moon said. “Invisible because I fear people who don’t know me see me only for my race, erasing my story, my experiences, and my Americanness. Highly visible because I know what other people see: a Chinese girl in a time when powerful political figures are constantly telling us that China is bad.”

Chen spoke about feeling angry in the wake of the Atlanta shootings and all the anti-Asian violence and rhetoric of the past year and beyond. Many of the other speakers shared her sentiments.

“We shouldn’t have to beg for our humanity,” Chen said. “And we shouldn’t have to beg to be treated as humans.”

At his Roth on Wesleyan blog, Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 echoed the students’ sentiments in a March 31 post titled “Say It Again: Stop Violence Against AAPI People.”

“Hate and violence have no place here. We will stand against racist and xenophobic violence, and we will do our best to protect and support all members of the extended Wesleyan family. We embrace the AAPI community in solidarity against this latest wave of attacks,” he wrote.

Read more on the vigil in this Wesleyan Argus story.