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Virginia Tech’s Asian American Student Union speaks out against hate crimes

Published: Mar. 20, 2021 at 7:35 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Asian American Student Union (AASU) members at Virginia Tech are speaking out against the violence that took place in Atlanta last week.

The Blacksburg Coalition for Justice put on a Solidarity Vigil to End Violence Against Asians on Henderson Lawn Saturday. Earlier Saturday, WDBJ7 spoke with Asian American Student Union members to hear their reactions and response to the deadly shootings that killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas. Six women who died were of Asian descent.

The deadly Atlanta-area spa shootings are troubling for many, including the Asian community in Blacksburg on the Virginia Tech campus.

“When I first heard about it, I felt shocked and scared, I felt afraid to go outside, and I felt even more afraid for my friends and family, especially my mother,” Kim Schmaus, an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech and member of AASU, said.

“I was and still am terrified and angry over what happened, it’s so hard to put in more words,” Elaine Consolacion, also an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech and a member of AASU, said.

Joong Won Kim, a member and graduate student, added, “I am angry at the ignorance, I’m upset and I’m quite disappointed, but frankly I’m not surprised by this incident.”

Kim said he’s not surprised because hate crimes against Asian Americans are nothing new.

“Now it’s garnering media attention, and it’s always been happening,” he said.

“There has always been a history of violence among our community, so this notion that, oh this just started now, is actually incorrect,” said Dr. Nina Ha, director of the Asian Cultural Engagement Center at Virginia Tech.

But the student union said this attention on Asian American hate crimes can be a learning opportunity.

“Prior to what’s happened in Georgia, we’ve already been preparing statements addressing this huge wave of anti-Asian violence regarding the pandemic. To summarize these statements and their purpose, we condemn these actions, inform the community of what resources we have,” Consolacion said.

AASU is working with other organizations to hold a panel at the end of March addressing the violence. Dr. Ha said systemic oppression is what is causing this violence against Asian Americans.

If you’d like to become more educated on the history and experience of Asians Americans, the students recommend you check out the events listed on the Asian Cultural Engagement Center website.

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