Stop Asian Hate, a coalition that tracks hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), recently reported 6,603 incidents between March 2020 and March 2021—almost double the number of the previous year. Violence against AAPI—fueled by xenophobic rhetoric from as high as the White House—spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, on March 16, a man killed eight people including six women of Asian descent at spas in Georgia.
“I was feeling it, and watching it, and not sure what to do,” says Mari Horita, ’94, vice president for community engagement and social impact for the Seattle Kraken. A week later Horita and four other communications and business leaders came together to, in their words, “uplift the community” in response to the rising violence. Horita, Katherine Cheng, ’95, Mimi Gan, Betti Fujikado, ’77, and Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, ’07, crafted a plan for public outreach.
In May, they launched Our Stories Are Your Stories, a video campaign where AAPI community members share their unique cultural identities and life experiences. Photographer Jordan Nicholson, ’12, talks about being Black and Chinese and having TAR Syndrome. Lawyer Praju Tuladhar describes his Napali American background and shares what made him decide to come out as gay to his family. Suzanna Olmos explains how being a Korean and Mexican American influences her delicious fusion food at Lazy Susan Seattle.
“Part of that is to dispel these notions that Asians are all alike,” Horita says. “There’s over 50 countries when you talk about Asian and Pacific Islands with different languages, customs, and cultures in America.
“All of us need to see each other as individuals with a unique story and also see the commonality between us, even people who we think we have nothing in common with, because we do.”
To see the inspiring oral histories of our diverse AAPI communities, visit ourstoriesareyourstories.com.