Words have the power to enflame and the hateful rhetoric of the last president threw gasoline on an already tense situation. Calling the virus the Kung Flu, the Wuhan Virus and the China virus over and over again, only helped to direct the hate and animosity of Trump supporters toward the Asian American community. Asian Americans have often needed to “prove” racism until social media videos came along. AAPI groups have video footage of hundreds of instances of violence committed against our community.
The Asian community in Jackson County is the smallest minority group at 1.1% of the population according the 2019 US Census Bureau. That’s 315 people. We’re smaller than the African American population that makes up 2.4% and Latinos that make up 6.2%. While we don’t hear of violence against Asians in Jackson County, all minority groups face racism. On Sunday I attended a candlelight vigil at the fountain in Sylva against AAPI Hate and during the hour that we were assembled, several cars drove by yelling at us.
It doesn’t take much to enflame your supporters, but words can also heal and President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s words in Atlanta, did just that. I felt gratitude to know that President Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in honor of the people who were killed in Atlanta. I felt gratitude when community members attended the vigil to show their support of the AAPI community.
Words can unite and heal, so lets all speak out against hateful speech and speak up against racism. Let’s use our speech to bring us together not tear us apart.