UD Asian American Association: “Solidarity isn’t transactional”

Members of UD’s Asian American Association enjoy a meal together, photo courtesy of @aaa_udayton.

Lauren Durham
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Tuesday March 16, a series of mass shootings took place in a spa district of Atlanta.

Six of the eight victims were Asian women, drawing attention to ongoing anti-Asian hate and racism in the United States. 

For many executive members of UD Asian American Association (AAA) — a student organization working to empower and unify Asian culture on campus — the Atlanta mass shooting was not the unexpected event it should have been.

If anything, some executive members of AAA were angry and numb, but not surprised.

“Emotions kind of gathered to that point and I really took a moment to grieve, and not just the victims from Atlanta, but all of the other incidents that have happened up to now,” said Marie Dock, president of AAA.

“I realized I’ve never actually got to take a moment to think about how to grieve those lives that have been lost already.”

Nicholas Riordan, a member of the social committee, shared how the events affected him. 

“It really got to me because it could happen to people that are all very close to me, like all these people in AAA, my girlfriend, my mom, my sister, like all these people that I know,” Riordan said.

“All the women I know can be the results of just targets like that.”

Dock has noticed a rise in anti-Asian hate since the beginning of the pandemic. Labels such as “China virus” isolated many Asian Americans and created a false target on their backs, according to Dock. 

“That puts a target on our backs. It’s like relabeling us as foreign, as different, as unbelonging,” Dock said. 

She noted that it’s been important for her to remember acts of hate against the Asian American community takes place everywhere, not just in major U.S. cities. 

“Even just looking at the media, I would be like, ‘oh, it happens in California and it happens in New York City,’ but even that’s not correct because we still have events that happen in Dayton,” Dock said. 

Although the student organization planned on having a campus-wide event this semester, the recents events have prompted further urgency and purpose. AAA is preparing for their upcoming event, Hate is a Virus, which will be held on April 5 at 7:30 p.m.

The event will be an open dialogue with a handful of speakers, giving students the opportunity to share and reflect. In order to maximize the impact, the campus community can join via Zoom or in-person in Kennedy Union Ballroom.

“We want to make it as comfortable as possible for people who share experiences and know that they’re not alone,” said Ashiwn Sanker, vice president of AAA.

“I know a lot of us have dealt with racism and we just casually brush it off, but some people have dealt with a lot of serious stuff and for them it’s hard to talk about. We want them to know we’re here for them.”

AAA members hope that students, faculty, staff and community members will come to the event with a willingness to learn.  

“Sympathy is not always helpful, especially when you’re trying to find action, also I think education is definitely the first step, like realizing where your biases are and educating yourself on microaggressions,” Dock said. 

Shara Shrestha, student representative for AAA, hopes that the event does not feel like an obligation, but an invitation to stand together as a community. 

“I don’t want it to seem like solidarity and advocacy should be transactional,” said Shrestha. “We have a lot of similarities or problems that are really interconnected, and for those reasons, we stand together.”

Dock agreed with Shrestha. 

“I really hope we can be able to see the community come together to support us because I feel like there hasn’t been an opportunity for that specifically and a lot of Asian students don’t always associate with AAA,” Dock said. 

“I still want to make sure their UD community can stand in solidarity with us and for all students to see that we’re just some part of the community like everybody else.”

For more information about the upcoming Hate is a Virus event, ways to advocate for the Asian American community, educational resources or to learn more about AAA, follow @aaa_udayton on Instagram or visit AAA’s homepage on 1850.

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