MANHATTAN, N.Y. – Community members are using a whistle to give Asian-Americans, particularly older members of the community, a way to fight back against crime and hate.
It’s a simple yet effective tool and so far, over 250,000 have been distributed nationwide by the Yellow Whistle Campaign, with over100 handed out on Thursday at the Chinese-American Planning Council’s Open Door Senior Center in Chinatown.
It’s giving Asian seniors an opportunity to blow the whistle – literally and figuratively – against racism and hate.
Oscar Tang, one of the co-founders, said the symbolism behind the whistle is that it’s yellow.
“It’s the color of hope and of daffodils, the coming of spring,” Tang said. “But for Asians, this has been used against us.”
It’s been weaponized against them, so the campaign is reclaiming the color for their cause.
If an Asian person is ever in a dangerous situation, they’re encouraged to blow the whistle for help; and if you hear a whistle, they want you to call 911.
Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, another co-founder, said it’s an easy and simple gadget.
“It does not have a language barrier,” she said. “It does not require battery operation.”
With the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, the co-founders realized they had to do something after seeing video of an Asian woman being attacked in front of a midtown building earlier this year while doormen stood by, watched, and shut the door.
The ongoing attacks are leaving the elderly Asian community frightened like Stephen Chan who lives in Chinatown.
“It’s scary,” Chan said. “Sometimes I walk by myself. Sometimes I’m scared.”
The whistle has the words, ‘We belong,’ on it and it’s providing a sense of security.
“I feel more safe, but I hope not to use it,” Chan added. “I’ll keep it in my pocket all the time.”
The co-founders say those of Asian descent aren’t the only ones that can use the whistle. People of all backgrounds are also welcome to carry it in case they ever find themselves in danger.