‘Stop Asian Hate’ rallies held in Carmel Valley

Protesters in Pacific Highlands Ranch on March 21.
(Karen Billing)

Last weekend local residents took a stand against racially motivated attacks and harassment against the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community.

Protesters lined the sidewalks in both Pacific Highlands Ranch and Carmel Valley near Del Mar Highlands Town Center on March 21, chanting and holding signs while drivers honked their horns in support. Signs shared messages like: “Racism is the virus, stop the hate”.

Demonstrations were held throughout the state and the county over the weekend including a vigil and march in downtown San Diego and a walk and rally in Carlsbad.

“For over a year, API serving organizations in the San Diego region have been advocating and pushing for the safety and well-being of the API community as the nation witnessed the rise in anti-API hate, violence, and xenophobia locally, nationally, and globally,” the San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Coalition said in a statement last week. “The San Diego API Coalition calls on our local and national leaders to condemn anti-API violence and to actively find solutions to shield our community from further hate and violence. We call on San Diegans to stand united against all forms of hate and violence towards marginalized communities.”

Protesters in Carmel Valley.

Since March 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate website received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents across the country — more than 40 were reported in San Diego. In February, there were reports of harassment directed at Asian residents in one Del Mar Heights neighborhood.

On March 18, the non-profit RISE San Diego invited advocates from the Asian American community to a forum called “The Virus of Hate”, addressing the troubling rise in hate and violence against Asian communities. The conversation was scheduled before the events of March 16, when a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian American women.

The panelists spoke openly about the pain they felt.

“Our communities are afraid and living in a time of fear, we are a scapegoat for why this virus exists,” said Rachelle Martinez, assistant director of SOLES at University of San Diego. She spoke about API women feeling unsafe and worrying about elders who are vulnerable. “It’s a reasonable thing to feel right now. It’s ok to be scared, it’s ok to be sad.”

A group of protesters in Pacific Highlands Ranch.
(Karen Billing)

Carmela Prudencio, communications coordinator for the San Diego API Coalition, said one ray of hope over the past year is that she has seen more Asian Americans get active, join organizations and use their platforms to advocate for their communities, “It’s been a long time coming. For so long I feel like a lot of our communities have been in silos.”

The panel also spoke about the ways that people can contribute to social change: to be open-hearted and unlearning unconscious biases, to uplift and support small businesses and to move past “performative allyship”: to actually show up and check in with friends and neighbors.

A protester at the Stop Asian Hate rally in Pacific Highlands Ranch.
(Karen Billing)

“We’re in San Diego which relative to the rest of the country is pretty racially diverse. There are explicit acts of violence that have happened but on the day to day basis it’s going to be microaggressive things, so how are we prepared to address those things in the moment, how we are going to intervene as bystanders?” Martinez said.

She asked people to think about the jokes that they laugh at and the language that they use.

“Once the hashtags stop trending this is still going to be an issue so what are you going to change about your behavior that’s going to make folks like us feel safe?” Martinez said. “We have to believe that all of our acts matter, no matter how seemingly small.”

For bystander intervention training, including an upcoming session on April 6, visit ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/ To find more resources for Asian Pacific Islander communities, visit: pacarts.org/sdapicoalition/api-resources/

A young protester in Pacific Highlands Ranch.
(Karen Billing)