HomeAAPI ActorsCelebrities and Public Figures Address Anti-Asian Hate

Celebrities and Public Figures Address Anti-Asian Hate

Photo by Adam Chau

By Shruti Rajkumar, AsAmNews Intern

Celebrities ranging from Grammy winner H.E.R to actor Simu Liu and US Figure Skating champion Michelle Kwan joined a star-studded town hall Thursday on anti-Asian hate.

The 90 minute virtual event sponsored by CAA, a talent and sports agency, featured moderated discussions with messages interspersed with public figures and Hollywood personalities

Planning for the town hall began earlier in the year as a rise of anti-Asian attacks circulated in the media and came to the public’s attention. The event opened with an introduction from Kevin Lin, who spoke on the importance of intersectionality, his personal experiences with racism, and the purpose of the event in raising awareness.

Top Row L-R: actress DeWanda Wise, president of strategic advisory firm Anthem of Us Anurima Bhargava. Bottom Row L-R: Co-founder of streetwear brand The Hundreds Bobby Hundreds, The Young Vic artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah

“The next 90 minutes are not going to be perfect. And we’re certainly not going to immediately solve any of the issues that we bring up today. But if even just one person of the thousands watching right now is inspired to take action, that we know this will have been a success,” Lin said.

The first discussion, moderated by actor Simu Liu, delved into the history of anti-Asian racism in the United States. American culture and music writer Jeff Chang noted how this racism existed before the beginning of the pandemic, blaming the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 for the dehumanization of Asian Americans which he says continues today.

Throughout the event, speakers such as CEO of Time’s Up Foundation Tina Tchen spoke on the connection between racism, sexism, and misogyny to the hypersexualization of Asian women that surfaced in the Atlanta shooting. 

“Let’s be clear, it’s not just around Asian women, it is also around women of all races and ethnicities, it’s directly related to the attacks on abortion clinics, the murder of abortion doctors, directly to the kind of White supremacists and domestic terrorism we saw on January 6. There is a thread through all of those that starts with the misogynistic and racist views of certain people in this country that have been stoked by others,” Tchen said.

L-R: Founder and CEO of civil rights NGO Rise Amanda Nguyen,  RUN AAPI co-founder Brad Jenkins, actress Chloe Bennet

Celebrities such as Kelly Marie Tran, Chloe Bennet, Amanda Nguyen, and Jenny Chang spoke on the significance of Asian representation in the media and in Hollywood, and emphasized the harm of yellow fever and fetishization in storytelling.

“The way that Asian women have been written in Hollywood, the way that yellow fever or being fetishized or our bodies being objects, and storytelling that happens about our community, that has absolutely played a part in this massacre. And sexual violence has a very strong intersection with the racism that so many women of color face, no matter what community they’re from,” Nguyen said.

Top Right L-R: Lisa Ling, CEO of Time’s Up Foundation Tina Tchen,
Bottom row left to right: Co-founder of anti-bullying nonprofit Act to Change Maulik Pancholy, U.S. Representative Ted Lieu

A recurring theme among speakers was the importance of allyship and unity among communities of color. Co-founder of anti-bullying nonprofit Act to Change Maulik Pancholy said “I think we’re hitting a point where it’s very much about bringing communities together. I think we’re finally at a point where we’re bringing communities of color together to talk about the fact that we are all victims of White supremacy, and in fact, being pitted against each other.”

Artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah emphasized the need for solidarity among these communities. “We are all one we are all the same, but we have to cry for those who feel the things that we feel, who’ve experienced the pain that we have experienced,” Kwei-Armah said. “And then we have to put out our hands and say, brother, sister, in whatever binary or non binary way you want, I’m here.”

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