We, the members of the local Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and our allies stood in solidarity Saturday afternoon at the corner of State and Anapamu, in a vigil against acts of hate and the murders of eight people in Atlanta, drawing attention to the six female victims of Asian descent. Saturday’s event was intended to raise the visibility of the multinational AAPI presence in our community. The AAPI community is not a monolithic block, but rather a rich patchwork of many traditions, languages, and cultures. We felt it was important to be seen by the greater community, as well as be seen by each other. Participants at Saturday’s vigil were encouraged to wear white, the traditional color of mourning in many Asian cultures, while solemn music was played on an Asian flute.
“I think many AAPI members have been feeling that no one cared about the escalating violence against our community. In our smaller cities that isolation can feel greater. But I think events like Saturday’s reinforce that we can be stronger together as AAPI’s, using the same tools that are empowering other communities, but with our own spirit.” —Karena Jew
“We are grateful that some 300 people turned out to recognize the issue of racially driven violence, to honor those who were recently murdered, to acknowledge the more than 3,800 hate incidents/crimes since the beginning of the pandemic, and to gather in peaceful reflection.” —Sharon Hoshida
As organizers, we hoped to create a needed space for communal healing for the Santa Barbara AAPI community, and to potentially create a network of AAPI organizations and individuals who can respond together as a unified force in the face of violence. “It was so wonderful to look around and see so many of our AAPI community coming together last Saturday, from small children to our elders. So much gratitude, love, and connectedness filled the air. Salamat po. [The Filipino word for ‘thank you’]” —Judy Guillermo-Newton.
Our goal as organizers is to be seen in the Santa Barbara community as a unified, vocal, and committed group of your AAPI neighbors, friends, coworkers, and family members who can no longer remain silent or be silenced as expressions of anti-AAPI hate permeate our beloved community. Microaggressions, implicit bias, overt and explicit racism do occur in our everyday lives, along with ageism, sexism, and xenophobia that also intersect as part of the oppression and hate that too many AAPI members experience.
“I am outraged that the most vulnerable (elders and women) in our AAPI community have become the targets of hate. With this silent vigil, we wanted to create a strong visual image by calling the AAPI community to stand in solidarity against the propagation of the false narrative that we are a problem.” —Juliet Velarde Betita
As vigil organizers, we want to make it clear that we value and welcome the support of allies as they join us to fight hate in all its forms and expressions directed against any targeted group. Saturday’s vigil was for the hurting AAPI community. Organizers want it known that tomorrow we are the allies standing with you and your affinity group in the fight against hate and intolerance.