Bergen County Unity Rally calls for end to hate against Asian Americans

Mary Chao

"Go back home. How many of you have heard that before?" Richard Lee, director of advancement at the Asian American Christian Collaborative, asked rhetorically at the Bergen County Unity Rally on Sunday afternoon.

Under overcast skies at Overpeck County Park in Leonia, over 200 people gathered for the first-ever rally to bring together Asian Americans with people of all backgrounds, unified against hate and violence. The event, hosted by the recently formed Bergen County Diversity Coalition, paid homage to May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, recognizing the contributions of the communities to the history of our country, while grieving over the spate of violent acts against Asian Americans over the past year as they were scapegoated for the pandemic.

Lee was among over a dozen speakers from different backgrounds to address the issue of racism against Asian Americans. Others included Rep. Andy Kim, D-3; Reyn Cabinte, senior pastor of Uptown Community Church in Washington Heights, New York; Justin Adour, pastor at Redeemer East Harlem Church; Kasai Sanchez, organizer of the Teaneck Black Lives Matter Mural Committee; Sahib Singh, a member of the Sikh Youth Coalition; and Han Ik Son, president of the Korean-American Association of New Jersey. 

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Lee told the crowd that Asians have long been targets of racism when it comes to being denied opportunities in the country, from personal to professional, but they have been reticent to speak up. 

"For far too long, far too many of us have believed that the path to belonging was by following the cultural command to keep your head down and don't make trouble," Lee said. "I think you and I have grown too comfortable in that assimilation."