“Jane,” 12, has a Taiwanese American mother and a Caucasian father. A dog enthusiast, Jane dreams of owning two beagles someday. This young resident of Santa Clara’s Rivermark neighborhood was walking a neighbor’s dog on March 28 in the afternoon when a stranger verbally attacked her with a racial slur.
Since the pandemic began, there has been an increase in reported incidents of harassment and violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community from all over the country.
“I was walking a dog by Don Callejon School,” Jane recalled. “I saw three people who were also walking a dog. The mom pointed at me and said to her two kids, ‘Ew, she’s Asian,’ and then she called me the c-slur. The woman made a facial expression of disgust in my direction.”
With tears of shock, Jane told her parents what had happened when she got home.
“I was shocked that this woman would say something like that about a kid my age,” Jane said. “I would want to tell this woman that it doesn’t feel good to be hated for your race. I hope her kids know that everyone is the same, no matter how they look or how their eyes are shaped. Everyone is made by the same God.”
Last June, a stranger called Jane’s mother a racial slur while her parents were walking to the local grocery store.
“It’s important that other people who have encountered hate like this in this area hear stories about people, like me and my mom, so they know they are not alone,” Jane said.
Jane’s experience reached the ears of City Councilmember Kathy Watanabe. On March 31, Watanabe and Mayor Lisa Gillmor hosted a #StopAsianHate rally outside of Northside Library at 4 p.m. According to Watanabe, she had purchased a permit for the event.
An estimated 50 to 60 masked people came. A number of local community leaders and their representatives spoke. Some attendees brought homemade signs.
“It was time to do a rally, to let people know that verbally attacking especially an Asian American 12-year-old is not okay,” Watanabe said. “The only way we can combat hate is to educate. The only way we can combat hate is if you see something, you say something.”
“The City of Santa Clara condemns racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and we will not tolerate hate crimes, hateful rhetoric and hateful acts against our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,” Gillmor said.
“It’s at gatherings like this, with our community, that we will attack a lot of these big problems together,” said Assemblymember Alex Lee.
Lee also pointed out that the resurgence of racism against Asian Americans is not new but rather, it has been around since Asians came to this country to build America.
“We can’t sit by idle while people are losing their life over senseless violence,” said Darius Brown, Chair of the City of Santa Clara’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “Our Asian American Pacific Islander community is hurting right now.”