BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Members of the Asian American community and allies rallied at Binghamton University on Saturday.
Speakers put out a call for unity against hate and more support for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Both groups have seen an increase in physical and verbal assaults during the pandemic.
According to a report from the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate, there were 3,292 hate incidents reported in 2020, although the number does not account for incidents that were not reported. Close to 13 percent of reported incidents occurred in New York.
Hundreds of people marched through the university’s campus in solidarity, chanting “silence is violence.”
During the rally, Binghamton University junior Claire Choi read an original poem about the increase in violence and the role of white allies.
“What I need to hear from you is, ‘Yes, your deep-rooted pain is unspeakable, but I will actively listen until the words at the tip of your tongue no longer feel like carbon monoxide filling your lungs in the form of self-deprecation, but oxygen,’” she read.
The rally’s speakers also recalled an anti-Asian attack on four Binghamton University students in 2000 on campus. According to The New York Times’ coverage of the assault, it left one student, 19-year-old John Lee, with a fractured skull and internal hemorrhaging. Weeks of protests followed
Two of the three white attackers, all on the university wrestling team, were expelled from the university. One, Nicholas Richetti, served weekend jail time followed by probation.
Chenqing Song, a professor of Chinese linguistic studies at the university, told the crowd she was a little intimidated to speak, partially because English is not her first language and was afraid of making mistakes.
“One of the main causes of anti-Asian crime is the language barrier, be it the real one or the self-imposed inferiority that I was experiencing,” Song said. “A voice calling for justice does not need to be in perfect English.”
In a letter to the university’s administration, organizers of the rally said they wanted more detailed anti-discrimination policies and more mental health counseling for students experiencing prejudice.