A couple dozen residents turned out for a student-led Stop Asian Hate rally in San Ramon last weekend, where participants gathered to publicly condemn a recent rise in crimes being committed against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Standing under trees outside of San Ramon City Hall on rainy Sunday afternoon, students and a collection of local leaders spoke out in support of the AAPI community and in condemnation of the violence and discrimination the group has faced.
"I should not have to feel scared of someone shooting my brother for his heritage. I should not have to feel ashamed of my accent or my culture. I should not be discriminated against for something I have no choice over to begin with," Dougherty Valley High School sophomore Emily Han said at the rally.
"Hate doesn't just happen in Atlanta, Georgia; hate is not just gun violence. Verbal abuse, systematic stereotypes and even the smallest mockery you make against someone's accent is discrimination. That's disdain, that's contempt, that's hate," Han added.
Stop Asian Hate rallies have been held throughout the country in recent weeks, spurred in part by the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16 that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
Organized by students from the Rishi Kumar for Congress Fellowship Program, Sunday's rally in San Ramon a collection of local leaders including Dublin City Councilwoman Sherry Hu and San Ramon City Councilman Sridhar Verose, among others spoke at the rally, calling for attendees to speak out when they see instances of hate in their lives.
"We are too quiet in the past, and we need to get our voices heard. We need to stand up for our own rights," Hu said. "When I hear you all say to stop Asian hate, I know that we are here together … This is our country, we are family together, our Tri-Valley is a big family."
Other local students in addition to Han that spoke during the rally include Katherine Huang, Ali Siddiqui, Sean Hwang and Prithika Thilakarajan.
Local activists Tiana Day and Sameera Rajwade were also in attendance, speaking of their own experiences of growing up in San Ramon and rallying attendees to come together and support one another.
"It may be a small group, but what I've learned from organizing is that smaller groups are the most passionate people. You guys are out here in the rain; it's cold but you're here fighting for change," Day said. "We live in a place where stereotypes consume the minds of our students. There is so much competition and judgement, but what if we just chose to love each other instead and chose to unite … In this community, it is more important than ever to unite together."
"There are so many different groups and resources in the Tri-Valley that you can get involved in," she added. "I myself founded a nonprofit last summer, Youth Advocates For Change for passionate youth just like you. Share the stories of celebration and encourage others to dive deeper into their culture, because we all come from somewhere and that's something to be proud of."