Photo Credits: Mario Rodriguez / Aggie
The move follows a rise in anti-Asian racism hate crimes during the pandemic
Hate crimes towards Asians and Asian Americans have been on the rise since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent attacks against Asian and Asian American seniors have caused outrage in the community that has called for an official resolution that would condemn anti-Asian violence.
During the Woodland city council meeting on Feb. 16, the city of Woodland adopted a resolution that condemns anti-Asian violence.
Council Member Rich Lansburgh explained the importance of adopting this resolution during the Woodland city council meeting.
“We need to stay as one because we’re all Americans,” Lansburgh said. “We live in this country, we live in this county, we live in this city. Let’s act as one people, and we’ll all get through this.”
Wayne Jopanda, the associate director of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, noted that there are multiple factors that have contributed to the recent rise in anti-Asian discrimination.
“One major factor that’s really prevalent is the heightened sense of xenophobia or anti-Asian sentiments that have been attached to and wrongfully connected to COVID-19 and the pandemic,” Jopanda said. “It’s increased in a sense because of a lot of anti-Asian sentiments—xenophobic sentiments—but to be clear, those sentiments have been there before COVID.”
He further described how the virus has been dubbed the “Kung Flu” and “Chinese virus.” As a result, Asians and Asian Americans of various ethnicities have faced discrimination.
Jopanda emphasized the uniqueness of every individual’s racialized experience, even among the Asian community.
“Even though we all are underneath the umbrella of ‘Asian identity,’ we all have different ways of how we’re racialized under this experience of U.S. imperialism, white supremacy and heteropatriarchy,” Jopanda said. “And the same goes on with our black and brown brothers and sisters and other community members who have been historically marginalized.”
Council Member Victoria Fernandez explained in the city council meeting the necessity of having conversations about racism.
“It is a conversation that we need to have,” Fernandez said. “Within our community, there is racism, there is fear about the unknown or the others, and unfortunately we are addressing this because it is a real issue for many residents, not only in Woodland but throughout our nation.”
Woodland Mayor Pro Tempore Mayra Vega explained in the Woodland city council meeting that individuals should feel safe within their own community.
“We just want to challenge our community to speak about these things, to educate our children, to have conversations in our community,” Vega said. “No community member should feel any danger by going to the grocery store. We shouldn’t have fear of being attacked because of the color of our skin or our national origin.”
Woodland Mayor Tom Stallard explained in the city council meeting his reaction upon hearing about recent anti-Asian discrimination.
“I don’t know what kind of weakness of character causes people to feel that they’re somehow better or that they can attack another human being,” Stallard said. “It just simply escapes me.”
Woodland Police Chief Derrek Kaff explained in the Woodland city council meeting how he encouraged community members to reach out to the police department for help.
“The Woodland Police Department absolutely stands with all members of our community,” Kaff said. “We are committed to remaining impartial, but to upholding the tenets not only of our nation but of our good community. This behavior can’t be tolerated here.”
Jopanda encouraged folks to speak up for others during their time of need.
“If you see something, say something,” Jopanda said. “Centering victims first and foremost is always important, and then also unpacking and recognizing the systems in play. Collective action is needed and collective liberation has to be centered.”
Vega explained that adopting the resolution would be the first step, but more work needs to be done within the community.
“This is just the first step,” Vega said. “Let’s think about how else we can address these racist issues to make Woodland a community that’s welcoming of all members of our community.”
Written By: Jelena Lapuz — firstname.lastname@example.org