Asian Culture Club responds to hate crimes

The+Asian+Culture+Club+gathered+in+a+Google+Meet+to+take+its+yearbook+photo.+The+club+aims+to+provide+a+wider+cultural+understanding+and+awareness+of+different+cultures+within+the+PV+community.+

Natalia Chinchilla

The Asian Culture Club gathered in a Google Meet to take its yearbook photo. The club aims to provide a wider cultural understanding and awareness of different cultures within the PV community.

Sarah Shapiro, Staff Writer

When PV senior and Asian Culture Club President Natalia Chinchilla first heard about the shooting that occurred in Atlanta, Georgia, her heart dropped.

I knew for a fact that Asian hate crimes aren’t something that [are] new,” Chinchilla said. “[They are] not something that [have] only happened recently, [they have] been happening for centuries.”

PV sophomore and Asian Culture Club treasurer Kareena Shah said that being a minority in a predominantly white town makes her “question [her] safety.”

The New York Times reported that in the past year, 3,800 Asian American hate incidents have been reported. The latest of which being when a man entered three spas in Atlanta and shot and killed eight victims. Six of the eight victims were Asian American women and seven of the eight victims were women.  

The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, a white man, was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. Long planned to go to another business in Florida but was stopped by local authorities after his parents sent in a tip to the police. 

Long denied that he intended for his actions to be a hate crime; and, while authorities have not concluded whether or not the shooting should be considered a hate crime, some authorities have defended Long and “appeared to [be playing] down the racial dimensions of [this] rampage.”

The Washington Post reported, “A sheriff’s office spokesman had said that the suspect was having ‘a bad day’ and indicated that ‘sex addiction,’ not race, was probably the driving factor.”

Chinchilla said that although she doesn’t have faith in the justice system, she has faith in people who have created petitions and lent a helping hand to families who have lost their loved ones. 

“I have faith that as community members and as people we can create this change and make sure this trial is not something that can be dismissed as anything but a hate crime, and anything but an attack on the Asian community and on American people,” Chinchilla said. 

The Asian Culture Club decided to inform the Pascack Valley community of the shooting by sending an email to the school describing what happened and sharing a fundraiser they created. 

They held an online snack sale, selling foods such as High Chew and Pocky. 

“In general, there’s a lack of having these issues addressed by the schools and I think because of that, people take things very lightly, and [that] encourages [others] to say and do things that aren’t correct or right,” Shah said. 

The fundraiser was able to raise over $100 so far to donate to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization that responds to acts of hate and violence inflicted upon Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

“With the fundraiser, it is amazing [to see] how we were able to come together as a community and put forth change,” Chinchilla said. 

Hate against Asian Americans has seen a rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are numerous organizations to support in order to help the Asian community.

Mason Chen, a PV senior and secretary of the Asian Culture Club, found that due to his position as secretary, he was able to witness the faculty and administrations’ positive reactions to the email. 

“I [saw] a lot of teachers and administrative faculty respond very positively,” Chen said. “We saw a lot of them make generous donations to our fundraiser and even saw other people reaching out for discussion.”

As a Latin American and president of the Asian Culture Club, Chinchilla finds it important to fight for change, even if you aren’t part of the Asian American community. 

“It’s all about sympathy, empathy, [and committing] to change, whether it’s from your community or not,” Chinchilla said. “At the end of the day, I want PV to understand that we are all interconnected in some way. We need to start making change and implementing change to help the school as well as its students, and we have to fight against societal norms.”