Asian American students and staff reflect on recent Lunar New Year shootings
SF State’s AAPI community members share their thoughts on the recent anti-Asian violence that affected a traditional time of celebration.
February 7, 2023
For many Asians and Asian Americans, Lunar New Year is a sacred time to gather with friends and family to celebrate the beginning of the lunar calendar. Individuals observe the holiday by wearing cultural clothing, practicing traditional dances and flower shopping.
This year, commemorations practiced for centuries were met with violence.
An annual Lunar New Year festival held in Monterey Park on Jan. 21 was soon overshadowed when it was later followed by a mass shooting that left 11 people dead. Two days later, seven more people were shot and killed in Half Moon Bay. Five of the victims were Chinese immigrant workers.
Violence and discrimination against Asian Americans have surged since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey by the Stop AAPI Hate initiative found one in five Asian Americans faced discrimination or hate in 2020 and 2021.
SF State Asian American Studies professor and Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Russell Jeung finds that although SF State has been a refuge for Asian American students, they still experience racial trauma.
“Our students have been traumatized,” Jeung said. “During covid, they’re not only worried about their own health but they’re worried about their family’s health. Then they’re worried about their family’s potential victimhood to racial attacks.”
Jeung also found racism has impacted Asian economies because people have been avoiding Asian businesses.
“I knew in my classes, every student had a family member who was laid off,” he said.
According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, 24.8% of SF State’s student population is Asian. In 2016, SF State’s Asian American Studies department partnered with Student Affairs and Enrollment Management to create the Asian American and Pacific Islander Retention and Education Program to serve the AAPI community and their needs in higher education.
AA&PI Student Services member Carolyn Chau believes the hate has hurt the AAPI community but also strengthened it.
“It impacted the community negatively at first, having a lot of individuals being scared of going out, of talking to people and of being in public,” Chao said. “Just over the fear of getting attacked or killed. I also think that the AAPI hate has impacted the community in a positive way that it has brought together the community and empowered the community to fight against it.”
AA&PI Student Services provides not only ASPIRE resources, but a safe space for students to drop in and hang out on campus.
The center held a community circle in response to the Lunar New Year shootings to allow students to voice their feelings about the recent violence.
AA&PI Community Outreach Specialist and SF State Alumni Maharaj Desai sees these events as a way to provide SF State’s AAPI student population with refuge and a space for healing.
“Holding space can look lots of different ways,” Maharaj said. “We don’t want to traumatize someone by making them talk about certain things. Be there to listen. Being in community is a great way to heal from fear and grief.” AA&PI Student Services will be hosting an open house for students tomorrow and is located in Village C.