Westporters unite to Stop Asian Hate Lucy Dockter ’23

Hundreds of Westport residents gathered on Jesup Green on Saturday, March 27, to protest the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

In a report released by Stop AAPI Hate, from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021, 3,795 bias-based incidents have occurred, 503 of which occurred already in 2021.

Many Asian American Staples students spoke at the rally. Jacob Lee ’22 described the racism he has experienced growing up and attending school in Westport, citing many offensive questions, such as “No, where are you really from?” and endured racist "jokes," like “Is your face flat because your parents hit you with a frying pan for getting a bad grade?”

"Consequences for the bullying, violence, or aggression of minorities should be swift and just. Without consequences, we clearly tell students who is protected, and who isn’t." - Minnie Seo ’20

UCLA student and Westport resident Minnie Seo talked about how she thought "chink" and "gook" were cute nicknames when she was called them at Long Lots Elementary School and only later did she learn the truth.

“Racism against our community has been prevalent and normalized. In the wake of any tragedy we hear the same routine words but creating actionable change makes white people uncomfortable.” - Gary Lu ’21

Photo contributed by Carrie Everett ’21

"This country was made by immigrants, we were promised liberty and justice for all. Not some. All. So let's keep up that promise and deliver it to the Asian community." - Anya Nair ’24
“Although there is always talk of dawning racial equality, it is evident that there is not enough being done to protect Asians and other minorities. There is absolutely no justification for having a prejudice against fellow students just because of the color of their skin; it is atrocious and goes against the morals we stand for in our community.” - Jacob Lee ’22

The rally was organized by Westport parents Heather Lee (left), Sarin Cheung (middle), Rosie Jon (right), Katherine Whee, Sara Kang Wiener and Patra Kanchanagom (not shown). The organizers found the Georgia shooting on March 16 to be a tipping point in their growing concern about the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans.

“My kids were getting scared for their grandparents in case of an attack," Heather Lee said, "and I was receiving text messages from friends regarding incidents they observed. I had to stand up and do what I can to STOP this hate against Asian Americans.”

Rosie Jon speaking at the rally.

“Don’t let Saturday’s event be just another day in your life. Take action. Speak up and speak out against discriminatory acts. Don’t be a bystander. You can do more. [...] Also, give adults ideas on how to reach and teach your generation. We may be older but we are learning along with you.” - Sarin Cheung
“What we must have going forward: HONEST conversations about the experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQ communities in our town and the willingness to truly listen and act upon what is shared. We must work TOGETHER to bring about positive justice in our community.” - Patra Kanchanagom

Many state officials and local leaders also attended the rally to speak out and show their support.

(left to right) US Senator Richard Blumenthal, State Representative Johnathan Steinberg, Selectwoman Melissa Kane, Selectman Jim Marpe, Organizers Heather Lee, Sarin Cheung, Rosie Jon, Selectwoman Jen Tooker, State Senator Tony Hwang, TEAM Westport Chair Harold Bailey and Connecticut Attorney General William Tong line up for a picture.
Parents of six adopted Asian children attended the protest.

“I’d love to see the authority figures in our town, including schools and organizations not just claim vague statements that sound appealing (and only in response to a racist event...)—that they support us, embrace diversity, and condemn racism,” Carrie Everett ’21 said, “—but actively try to educate themselves and others on these issues, to dissolve their immediate defenses and instead look to challenge implicit biases.”

On a beautiful, sunny morning, attendees listen to speakers.
Young students show off hand-made signs.

Photos by Lucy Dockter ’23