Attendees of the #StopAsianHate rally filed into Atlanta’s Liberty Plaza on Saturday to demand an end to racism, misogyny, and white supremacy. Speakers from across the city and region gathered to rebuke the killings which took place on Tuesday in the Atlanta area.
Located across the street from the Georgia state Capitol, Liberty Plaza was initially locked to those gathered outside. Organizers cheered after hearing State Rep. Bee Nguyen called the governor’s office to have the plaza opened.
“White supremacy is a lie teller, and a life taker,” said speaker Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, calling for people of conscience to stand together. “Their deaths say that all of us must come together. Their deaths say that we can’t let racism or white supremacy have the last say.”
Barber used history to share the struggle of Frederick Douglass and other abolitionists through the 1860s. Douglass was a vocal opponent of restrictions on Asian immigration during the late 1800s and once relayed the account of a mass lynching of Chinese people in Los Angeles in 1871. Barber encouraged people to understand the common struggle against white supremacy and organize accordingly.
Following Barber on the microphone, Nguyen called out the media and law enforcement for centering the perpetrator in the massacre last week that took eight lives, six of which were Asian women. She said there was no denying the systemic racism, misogyny, and xenophobia were at the root of the killings.
The first Vietnamese-American to serve in the Georgia legislature, Nguyen succeeded Stacey Abrams in representing Georgia’s 89th legislative district. Nguyen is also a part of a group of state legislators always ready to throw down against injustice.
“We have seen this before,” Nguyen said. “And now in the wake of a brutal shooting White America is still trying to deny our humanity and existence.”
Toward the end of her remarks, Nguyen recognized the common struggle against white supremacy and gender based violence. “I want to thank our Black brothers and sisters, who know too well the pain we felt this week,” she said. “They have shown up for us without asking any questions and we need to do the same for them.”
Black and Asian solidarity is not new. Written during Black History Month, Asian Americans Advancing Justice highlighted five instances of cross-racial solidarity including the work of Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama.
Speaking with NewsOne, rally attendees Duoa Kue-Morris and Kao Kue said knowing history was important. “The API and Black community have been working alongside each other for years,” said Kue-Morris. Kue-Morris feels focusing on divisions between Black and Asian communities serves as a function of white supremacy. “Today I’m not just here for Asian people because I’m Asian. I’m here for people of all colors and I’m here to end white supremacy.”
As an educator, Kue believes that knowing our history is knowing the truth. Kue said the violence experienced by our communities is systemic. “And we want to make sure that everybody else knows.” Kue pointed to the important gains of the civil rights movement as an example. “All of our struggle connects when we have the civil rights movement and leaders of the Black community and other communities coming together. It benefited all of us.”
Justin Singletary, a Black faith based organizer said his faith required a universal look at loving his neighbor. “When those around me are grieving, we can’t think of community just within the color of skin,” Singletary said. “Community needs to be in the context of humanity.”