Published: Thursday, August 17th, 2017
August 17, 2017
Sung Yeon Choimorrow is the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.

I can’t get the images of this past weekend — of white supremacists angrily marching on Charlottesville with torches blazing, armed racists menacingly ringing a park and a car speeding into a crowd of peaceful protesters — out of my mind. I find that I am as angry as I am sad.

We know that the racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, misogyny and hatred that killed Heather Heyer and injured many others in Charlottesville is the same white supremacist agenda that seeks to demonize immigrants and oppress women, people of color, LGBTQ people, religious minorities and indigenous people. To see such hatred unleashed so openly is a sure sign that the bigots and white supremacists have been emboldened and empowered — likely by the president, who has built his political base upon hatred and has tapped their ranks to be among his closest advisors.

For the white supremacists, “Make America Great Again” was code for the promise to return to the good old days when white-male privilege was sacrosanct, women and people of color were second-class citizens, LGBTQ people were criminalized and immigrants were used as cheap labor or tossed into internment camps.

As an Asian American woman, racism, xenophobia and sexism are not abstract threats, they are my daily reality. Our community knows all too well that the dog whistle rhetoric coming from the leader of the free world is dangerous and will lead to the destruction of our democracy.

In times of grief and darkness, I draw strength from Asian American and Pacific Islander women activists like Yuri Kochiyama and Mitsuye Endo who have set an example of courageous resistance.

On our side, we have those who are committed to justice, equality and nonviolence. Our side cannot lose if all of us — immigrants, women, people of color, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, indigenous people and people with disabilities — stand together. United, we are unbeatable.

In the words of Grace Lee Boggs, “You don’t choose the times you live in, but you do choose who you want to me. And you do choose how you think.”

AAPI women have a long history of standing tall and strong for our communities and with all communities of color. We’ve chosen our side. Together we will overcome the racism, bigotry, misogyny and hate that threatens our communities.

I encourage you to join activists in your community at a local vigil, action, rally or other solidarity event. We cannot afford to stand quietly on the sidelines and shake our heads. We must not allow the purveyors of hate and violence to push us into the shadows.


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing, and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls.