NEW YORK (PIX11) — A groundbreaking new documentary pays tribute to the lives lost, examines the rise of anti-Asian racism, and documents the growing movement to fight back and stop the hate. “Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March” is set to air on PBS Monday.
In the last several years, there have been searing images of unprovoked, hate-spewing acts against Asian Americans. From an 81-year-old man violently shoved in Oakland, California, to a woman brutally attacked on the streets of Flushing, Queens, they are just two incidents that shook the nation. Then there were the shootings at three Atlanta spas. Of the eight killed, six victims were women of Asian descent. Robert Peterson’s mother, Yong Ae Yue, is one of the six.
“It’s very important for me to share my story about my mother and the other eight victims as well. This was based on racial bias and gender-based bias,” said Peterson. “My mother was murdered a year ago, and we continue to see the violence afflicted upon Asian Americans, particularly against Asian-American women.”
The March 2021 mass shooting became a galvanizing moment within AAPI communities. The countless rage-filled attacks and the ongoing escalation against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are the subjects of “Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March.”
Gina Kim is the documentary’s executive producer, which also chronicles how grief and anger turned into action.
“We do feel this is an inflection point for Asian Americans, and we want this to be a conversation starter,” said Kim. “This is not the first time Asian Americans had been violently attacked, but we do recognize it is a unique moment, and when we saw one attack after another, we knew we had to do something and document it.”
Attacks against Asian Americans went up 300% nationwide last year.
The filmmakers also examined hate crimes here in New York City.
“This can’t just be the Asian American fight. It has to be society and the country as a whole recognizing this is one of the most pressing problems that we need to address,” said Kim.
2020 brought a global pandemic and a pandemic of racism. Former President Trump’s use of racist rhetoric about the coronavirus is believed to have sowed the seeds of fervent anti-Asian American sentiment.
Titu Yu directed “Rising Against Asian Hate.” “This is a watershed moment for Asian Americans,” said Yu. “But I think things are changing now. I think younger Asian Americans are speaking out and fighting back.”
As violence continues to surge against them, it has reignited protest and political engagement amongst AAPI people, who are essentially fighting back.
“This problem is not going to go away. It’s going to escalate, and unless we come together and do something about it, this is going to be a problem that affects all of us,” said Yu.
“I want my mom to be remembered as a loving mother, a family woman, a proud American, and I want her to be remembered she’s not here today because of hate,” said Peterson.