By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
Monthanus Ratanapakdee never volunteered to be at the center of the movement to stop anti-Asian hate.
Her father gained national prominence under horrific circumstances. A young man shoved the 84 year old into the hard concrete sidewalk in San Francisco, killing him. For many, Vicha Ratanapakdee, has become the human face of a national tragedy.
His daughter is carrying on her father’s legacy. Montanus appeared at a screening organized by The Asian American Foundation in San Francisco of Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March. The film premiers on PBS on Monday, October 17 at 9 pm/8 pm Central. It will also stream on the PBS website for the next two weeks.
“I miss him every day,” she said. “He taught me love, kindness and respect. If he were still alive, he’d want people to live with love, without hate. Right now he’s the grandpa for everyone.”
The film focuses on a day that is etched into the minds of many Asian Americans- March 16, 2021. What were you doing when you heard that a gunman killed eight people-six of them Asian women at three spas in the Atlanta area?
“Violence against Asian Americans is nothing new,” said Gina Kim, executive producer of Rising Against Asian Hate. “We knew this time was unique,” referring to the Atlanta shootings. “It’s our story. It’s important for us (Asian American journalists) to tell the story.”
The film is narrated by actress Sandra Oh. It begins with a touching remembrance of the eight victims. It includes an interview with Robert Peterson, son of the late Yong Ae Yue, one of those killed. Peterson speaks about how he heard about his mother’s death and how that horrendous day brought him closer to the Korean American community. Peterson’s father is African American.
Mostly the film documents how the shooting in Atlanta galvanized the Asian American community into action after a year of anti-Asian violence.
“Just seeing these videos coming through one after another-no escape from it. People wanted to tell their stories,” said Titi Yu, the film’s director.
Other interviews are with Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY 6th District), Georgia State Sen. Michelle Au, Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen, Georgia State Rep. Samuel Park and Byung J. “BJay” Pak (former Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney and legislator); as well as Monthanus Ratanapakdee.
“I think there’s a certain awakening,” said Don Young of the Center for Asian American Media which produced the film along with Repartee Films, LLC. “There’s always been a questioning of what is Asian American. When you saw this violence, it went beyond an ethnic identity. It’s about defending those we care about.”
Charles Jung, executive director of the California Asian Pacific American (APA) Bar Association and organizer with the Asian Justice Movement, put it bluntly.
“It’s about time for people to give a f*ck about our community,”
AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Please take advantage of a $30,000 matching grant challenge. An anonymous donor has offered to match dollar for dollar every tax-deductible donation made to Asian American Media Inc from November 1, 2023 until the end of the year. The money will be used to fund the addition of a new reporter and to produce content for limited English-speaking Asian immigrants. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.