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Residents Rally In Huber Heights: 'Racism Against The AAPI Community Is Nothing New'

On Saturday, around 60 people gathered in Huber Heights for a Stop Asian Hate rally. Residents waved signs that said “Protect Asian Lives” and “Asians are not a virus, racism is” at busy traffic along Old Troy Pike. Organizers wanted to have the event in front of NorthPark Center to have as much visibility as possible.

Attacks on Asian-Americans have increased in the U.S. since the pandemic began. On March 16, a white gunman killed eight people in Atlanta-area spas, six of them women of Asian descent. Earlier this year a local restaurant in Riverside, Xuan Vietnamese Cuisine, was targeted by anti-Asian vandalism. The owners plan to close the restaurant in May.

Speakers at the rally emphasized the long history of anti-Asian racism in the U.S., including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese Americans and the Watsonville anti-Filipino riots.

“Racism against the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community is nothing new,” said Marvin Mamitag, president of the Philipine-American Society of Greater Dayton. “There are different cultures from Asia and we speak different languages, but somehow we are being treated as one and the same. We are being characterized as perpetual foreigners. Thus we are insignificant and invisible for a very, very long time.”

Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore delivered a mayoral proclamation of a renewed commitment to racial equity, diversity and inclusion. Members of the Dayton chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Philippine-American Society of Greater Dayton, Dayton's Asian American Council, and the Ohio AAPI organization OPAWL also spoke.

“We've all had that question asked of us: Where are you from? Whenever I answer, I always say Texas,” said Chantel Raghu, a member of city council in Oxford, Ohio. “But that's usually not what the questioner is looking for. They look at me and they do not see an American. Although America is the only home I have ever known, I will always be seen as an outsider in their eyes.”

The event was organized by the Huber Heights Culture and Diversity Citizen Action Commission. Yolanda Stephens, chair of the commission, along with other founding members worked to form the group last year in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.