SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- A series of attacks against Asian Americans nationwide has spawned a movement to "Stop Asian Hate" in communities all across the country. About 100 people attended a rally on Saturday, April 17, that was organized by Rutgers Preparatory School’s Global Outreach Club. The event began with a moment of silence in honor of victims of racist violence and featured speakers mostly from Rutgers Prep, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, and Westfield High School.
Karyne Brown of Rutgers Prep gave the opening speech and schoolmate Alex Xu discussed collective healing. Chloe Alce from SPFHS spoke about the "model minority myth," and solidarity of people of color, Jason He of Rutgers Prep shared some personal experiences, and Deborah Ode presented a spoken word poem on solidarity between people of color.
Two students from nearby Westfield High School also took the mic. Sam Altman utilized some self-depreciating humor in discussing means of combating anti-Asian hate, while Anna Qiang shared the tragic, often overlooked story of Vincent Chin and the Asian-American experience. They were followed by SPFHS student Gabby Pugliese, who spoke about unity, and Liz Romage, the final presenter, who listed individual actions people can take to battle racism.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to be here today to join you in honoring those individuals who have been victims of Asian Hate, as well as spread awareness of this important issue that has further divided our country," said Scotch Plains Mayor Josh Losardo, the only dignitary to speak at the rally, which was largely organized by young people. "The residents of this town are open-minded. We are respectful of our fellow citizens. In fact, we look for ways to embrace diversity and the heritage of our very diverse community."
Attendees included Council members Ellen Zimmerman and Roc White, Matt Adams, the Democratic appointee for the Council's open seat, Board of Education member Amy Winkler, Social Justice Matters president Joan Peters, Scotch Plains police chief Ted Conley, and former Scotch Plains Mayor Al Smith.