Protesters marched for George Floyd, who died this past week in custody of Minneapolis police. An officer has been charged with third-degree murder. Burlington Free Press
As national unrest over police brutality continues, Vermonters like Weiwei Wang are thinking about their own roles in fighting racism.
Wang works with local organizations like the Asian Equity Group, which ceased meetings in light of COVID-19, the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019. As COVID-19 spread, so did anti-Asian sentiment. Wang said her father’s hairstylist in Vermont essentially didn’t want to touch him until he explained that he wasn’t sick. Yet her younger Asian-American friends felt happier in Vermont than in their hometowns, where people experienced racism.
“I think that we’re lucky in that we live in a state where we didn’t experience that as much,” she said, but noted this could be because people of color in Vermont instead experience a “quiet racism.”
Now, she’s thinking about what can be done as the country responds to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was black, died after a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck. Now, people are reiterating the push for Black Lives Matter, a movement calling out violence against the black community.
“With the Asian Equity Group, we’re trying to figure out how do we as Asians contribute positively to the BLM movement,” she said. “To, you know, kind of work away this anti-black message that we may have been receiving as children when we were growing up.”
She felt it a little early to determine the exact trajectory for the Asian Equity Group at this point, but could envision it beginning as a conversation. Subsequent action could range from reading a book to attending a protest to making a statement to City Council.
Speaking from a personal stance, she’d like to resume monthly meetings for the Asian Equity Group.
“We are so very few and spread out, even in the Burlington area,” she said. “That we need to have that connection. … Especially now, so that we can check in on each other and see what’s happening and start making moves.”
More personal stories: How Vermonters are facing life in the coronavirus era
Contact Maleeha Syed at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89.
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