SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Unity Against Hate rally is happening on Saturday, May 15. At least 16 cities, including Sacramento, are holding a march or rally at the same time to confront the senseless rise of anti-Asian hate incidents amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest data from Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition addressing anti-Asian racism across the U.S., 6,603 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were reported to the organization from March 19, 2020, to March 31, 2021. The data also shows about 40% of the hate incidents reported in the past year occurred in California, with the top reported hate incidents including verbal harassment, shunning, and physical assault. Civil rights violations and online harassments are some of the other hate incidents reported against people of Asian descent.
In early April, a group of community leaders and organizations in the Greater Sacramento region came together to help organize a local rally to put an immediate stop to hate of all kinds against Asians and all other diverse communities and groups. Even though the Unity Against Hate rally started as an event in Sacramento, the local rally turned into a national and international movement with unwavering support from additional organizations, groups and volunteers.
“A few of us volunteers came together to say, ‘when is a better time, if not now, to really speak up about hate and not be afraid,” Amy Tong, National Senior Advisor of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs, said. “The rally started with Sacramento. Then, it grew to the state of California to a national event. Now, it is an international rally. Canada and Australia will also be holding the Unity Against Hate rally at the same time.”
More than 30 organizations are sponsoring and participating in the rally in Sacramento, including Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA), Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Florin Chapter, and OCA Sacramento. The APAPA is a non-profit organization that aims to empower Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans through education, leadership and active participation in civic and public affairs. The JACL is all about promoting civil rights, social justice, and cultural heritage for all Americans through community education, alliances and leadership. The OCA represents Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Islander Americans in the U.S.
“The attacks on Asian Americans has been going on a lot longer than the last few years,” Josh Kaizuka, Co-President of the JACL, Florin Chapter, said. “Matter of fact, from the day Asians immigrated to this country over 150 years ago, they have been targeted. It is so important over the years to speak up and stand up and fight for those communities that have been disenfranchised and targeted. Today, what we're seeing is an assault on our community.”
The Unity Against Hate rally is being held in May to recognize the 139th anniversary of ending the Chinese Exclusion Act. The rally is also being held to recognize Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. It’s a special time to pay tribute to the generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans who contribute and influence the history, culture, and achievements of the U.S. In a proclamation on Asian American and Native Hawaiian / Pacific Islander Heritage Month, President Joe Biden encouraged the public to learn more about the history of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
“Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders make our Nation more vibrant through diversity of cultures, languages, and religions,” President Joe Biden said. “There is no single story of the AANHPI experience, but rather a diversity of contributions that enrich America’s culture and society and strengthen the United States’ role as a global leader. The American story as we know it would be impossible without the strength, contributions, and legacies of AANHPIs who have helped build and unite this country in each successive generation. From laying railroad tracks, tilling fields, and starting businesses, to caring for our loved ones and honorably serving our Nation in uniform, AANHPI communities are deeply rooted in the history of the United States.”
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the Unity Against Hate rally in downtown Sacramento. The event will include live entertainment and speeches from elected officials and volunteers, including California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Senator Richard Pan, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, among other guest speakers and attendees.
“We're going to have speakers, from elected officials to educators, law enforcement, and most importantly community leaders, to talk about what each one of us would do to make a difference,” Tong said. “Education is the theme of the rally and celebrating diversity.”
People are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask and practice social distancing during the rally to stop the spread of COVID-19 in all communities. Security will also be enforced to ensure the safety of all participants of all age groups and backgrounds.
“Participating in a rally is not going to end hate,” Janice O’Malley, Vice President of Strategic Policy and Public Affairs, OCA Sacramento, said. “But, what it does is mobilizes folks. It empowers folks to become active and, hopefully, inspire them to become advocates. It’s about policy change and holding our elected leaders and law enforcement accountable. This is just one part of the piece that's going to be an ongoing effort. It's going to be you that unites with other people, to affect change.”
The Unity Against Hate rally will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 15, on the north steps of the State Capitol in downtown Sacramento. To learn more about the rally or the fight against anti-Asian hate incidents, visit the international Unity Against Hate rally website.