On Friday, members of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders community will host a flashlight vigil in City Park at 6 p.m. in remembrance of the victims of the Atlanta, Georgia, shooting as well as victims of other anti-Asian violence.
The victims from the Atlanta shooting are as follows:
- Soon Chung Park
- Hyun Jung Grant
- Suncha Kim
- Yong Ae Yue
- Xiaojie Tan
- Daoyou Feng
- Delaina Ashley Yaun
- Paul Andre Michels
Fanny Fang, former county commissioner candidate, said she helped organize this event because the Asian American community has “suffered in silence for too long.”
“It’s even harder to speak up when you live in a predominantly white community where over 80 percent of your neighbors are white,” Fang said. “I wanted to make sure that Asian Americans who are grieving in this community know that this is a safe space for them, that there are allies in this community.”
Fang said it’s difficult for many Asian Americans in the community to find each other and make connections because there is very little opportunity for them to do so.
“A lot of us are business owners,” Fang said. “A lot of us are students. We are incredibly busy and … there isn’t necessarily an infrastructure in place for us to find each other. I also think that it’s important for white allies to come and listen to our stories and for our AAPI community to see who our allies are.”
Fang said anti-Asian violence takes many forms, but she mostly sees it as microaggressions in Kansas.
“‘Kansas nice’ is the racism towards Asians and towards other BIPOC communities that comes across more as microaggressions rather than something as tragic as what happened in Atlanta,” Fang said.
For example, Fang said, Manhattan tends to use the term “Manhappiness” as a marketing strategy. However, she said, “Manhappiness” doesn’t always apply to people of color in the community.
“I hope that the vigil will bring to light some of those problems and start that conversation amongst all different communities to talk about what do we need to change so that Manhappiness can truly be Manhappiness for everyone,” Fang said.
So far, Fang is still trying to find speakers for the event.
“It was important to me to make sure that the speakers are community members,” Fang said. “It has been difficult to find speakers because Asian American speakers because … we’re still in the grieving process. Privacy is also a very important value for many of us. So to share stories on a very public front can be very intimidating and can almost feel like you’re betraying our own culture and our own values in some way.”
To help with that, Fang created a Google survey for people in the AAPI community to fill out. People can submit anonymously.
Fang encourages everyone to wear a mask to the event. She plans to host the event rain or shine, however if there is severe weather, the event will be rescheduled.