On March 27, around 100 activists from across the Tallahassee community gathered in front of the State Capitol building to commemorate the eight victims from the recent Atlanta shooting, and to speak out against Asian American oppression.
The Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC), along with various local organizations such as Asian Coalition of Tallahassee, FSU’s Filipino Student Association, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Dream Defenders and other community members took a stand for the victims of the shooting in grief and healing.
The event started off with Daisy Sim, a Korean American member of TCAC, stating that she hopes the big takeaway for today is how U.S. imperialism functions with the use of the military, ICE and the police. Sim stated, “I hope to call out the true enemy of our community, which is white supremacy and encourage people to further educate, organize and mobilize.”
Regina Joseph, president of TCAC and one of the Tally19, spoke in solidarity with the Asian community, stating, “There is this idea that if you work hard and keep your head down, then you would be protected and that is not the case.” Joseph continued, “You cannot divide the multinational working class.”
Joseph also explained that it was important for African Americans and Asians to strive for solidarity with each other.
Sharry Solis, president of FSU’s Filipino Student Association, continued this theme, noting, “My home country in Philippines is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in Asia - aid that led to widespread human rights violations.” She also states that “bombings against environmental activists and indigenous people has contributed to them being displaced all over the country.”
Dr. Portia Campos of the Asian Coalition of Tallahassee wanted to share her earliest experience of racism when she was six years old. She ended her speech by chanting “Raise your voice and scream. Raise your voice and shout. Say no to Asian hate.”
Delilah Pierre, vice president of TCAC and member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, pointed out “We have to talk about the extreme devastation the U.S. has brought onto Asian people all around the world. What they did to Korea during the Korean War. One-third of Korean housing was destroyed. They came to destroy your country. And in Vietnam they are still digging up bombs. Still fighting Agent Orange. They came to destroy your country. What’s right about that?! And what they are doing to the Philippines! And what they are doing everywhere to Asian countries! It’s fucked up.”
Activist Roman Le, the communication lead with Dream Defenders, touched on the emotional weight of the loss of the eight victims, stating, “The amount of energy I have spent, silently crying or laughing to create any sense of synthetic happiness so that my body to feel anything, has left my body torn. I often wondered how people cannot be stuck in their bed for days, trying to make sense of the lingering grief. That never seems to leave but instead becomes more layered. I hope no one points out how my dull my eyes were because I don’t have the heart to explain how I spent the previous night trying not to think about how many more white people will murder communities of color while having a ‘bad day’?”
Isabel Ruano, a valued member for the Tallahassee Community Action Committee, sang a song dedicated to the Asian community out of a place of solidarity as a Latina. She mentioned that her husband, who is Asian Indian, faced hardship that mirrored the current state.
Aurora Hansen, founder of Asian Coalition of Tallahassee, told the crowd, “I am so happy that the younger generation is speaking up because when I was growing up we couldn’t say anything.” She continued to share her life experiences coming and living in Lakeland, Florida, and experiencing microaggressions.
Speaking next, Dawn Orocio, TCAC Communication Director and FRSO member, wondered about the costs of assimilation for the American Dream. She stated “The American Dream is bullshit. You sell this dream to immigrants searching for better but the reality is that, ‘Is it really that much better?’ I sit here and I don’t think that it is.”
The event closed with Trish Brown, co-founder of TCAC, singing "If I don’t lift them up, I’ll fall down!" and shouting “We have nothing to lose but our chains!”