SAG-AFTRA group explores anti-hate efforts against Asian Americans – Deadline

A panel of Asian-American actors and broadcasters from SAG-AFTRA expressed hope today that the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans will continue to unify their communities and the nation against discrimination and secular bigotry. SAG-AFTRA National Vice President Clyde Kusatsu highlighted how attitudes have changed since he was young and how much more progress needs to be made for equity to be achieved.

You can watch the hour-long panel discussion, co-sponsored by the Asian American Journalists Association, above.

Kusatsu, speaking to the union’s #StopAsianHate panel on Wednesday, recalled that as a young theater student at Northwestern University in the late 1960s, a professor asked him why he wanted to be an actor, given that ‘there were so few roles for Asians. Americans. “There weren’t many on screen and on TV that looked like me back then other than stereotypes,” he said. “In my first year, I had a teacher who stopped me in the room and asked me why I wanted to be an actor, because there is only The August Moon Tea Room and The king and I and how could I think of earning a living? I was shocked and humiliated, but sometimes things happen for a purpose. It made me determined to be 10 times better than a white actor if that’s what it took to get me there.

SAG-AFTRA leaders urge members to lead fight against wave of hatred against Asian Americans

Undeterred, he became an active member of the drama department, playing character roles, and learned that “the audience, if you were good, would accept you, no matter where you came from or where you came from. After graduation he moved to Los Angeles and joined the East West Players, a company whose goal, he said, “was to show the industry that Asian actors could do more than launderer and the house boy ”. It would launch a film and television career spanning nearly 50 years and over 300 film and television roles.

“Growing up in Hawaii, I was very aware of the biases, and it wasn’t right and it wasn’t right,” he said. “But I learned one thing: if you want to protest and advocate for change, you better have examples of how to do it. And that is the powerful role of SAG-AFTRA: to build a vision of how to challenge and correct prejudices, and unite people under the union banner. And I see unity now, and that’s the silver lining of it all. Before, it was anti-Japanese, or anti-Chinese or anti-Vietnamese. But this time everyone has the face of hatred and prejudice against AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders), and we rally around AAPI. So I proudly identify with that and with the brotherhood of a common goal.

The panel, which was moderated by WAVE 3 News anchor and reporter Maira Ansari, is part of the union’s Stop the Hate week exploring issues affecting Blacks, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Middle East / North Africa, LGBTQ, trans, people with disabilities, and senior artists – and their portrayals on screen.

“I know that many of us still cannot shake the images of the horrific violence that the American-Asian community endured just a few weeks ago in Atlanta,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. , which hosted today’s panel. “Gun violence is an incredibly tragic fact of life in our country. But this particularly horrific act that claimed the lives of eight people, including six Asian women, was clearly based on the hatred and racism that permeates our country. Our Asian sisters and brothers have faced racism and hatred for decades, but this hatred and racism has been particularly inflamed in recent years and fed additional energy by political leaders who have targeted and targeted the Asian community on the back. of Covid-19. pandemic.”

She did not mention former President Trump by name, but many blame him for contributing to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans by calling the coronavirus “Kung flu” and consistently blaming the China for releasing the virus to the world. SAG-AFTRA was firing Trump from the union for inciting the Jan.6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol, but he resigned in February before he could be kicked out.

Carteris said that SAG-AFTRA members who are part of the Asian-American Pacific Island community experience this hatred “on many levels, as broadcasters covering the Atlanta murders and the intimidation and violence of United States of America at large. And often when they do their job, they too become targets. For actors in the Asian-American Pacific Islands, discrimination is not a new phenomenon. Together, presenters and artists, as well as our entire SAG-AFTRA community, are embarking on the urgent discussion and, hopefully, solutions, on how communities and media can help end hate.

SAG-AFTRA tackles hate crimes & amp; Discrimination against Asian Americans during the pandemic

Ren Hanami, National Chairperson of the SAG-AFTRA Asian Pacific American Media Committee, said she was “grateful that our union has chosen this important time to elevate the emergence of the need to act, not just talk, for fairness. , diversity and inclusion. … At this time, our community has been deeply affected by the events unfolding in society, with the recent gruesome murders in Atlanta and the wider documented rise in violence against Asian Americans, of which our community was well. conscious, and is a direct result of the continued attack on hatred by political figures, which has only underscored the necessity of our work.

ABC News co-presenter Juju Chang ‘ Nightline, spoke of the challenges she faced in covering the mass shootings, including the March 16 killings at three Asian spas in Atlanta. “I’ve spent a lot of time compartmentalizing when I’m covering stories,” she said. I thought of all the mass shootings I covered, the Vegas shoot, the Orlando shoot, the Newtown shoot; but when I was in Atlanta after the shootings at three Asian-themed spas, I couldn’t help but see myself reflected in the victims. And when I interviewed Randy Park, one of the victims’ sons, I saw my son in his eyes. So it brings up some accumulated heartache and trauma that I’m working on very slowly, because I think it’s important to unpack all the things we’re exposed to, process them, and reflect on. But I have also been encouraged by so many of my friends, allies and colleagues who have sent me messages of concern and concern, and when I see people like [fellow panelists] Olivia [Munn[ and Brian [Tee] and others stand up and speak on behalf of our community, I also feel elated.

Actress Olivia Munn (The press room, the predator) said that despite the rise in hatred, “there has been this really great sense of unification in our community… We have really come together to support each other and to amplify ourselves and try to make a change. It was a really great feeling. And although it is a very scary time right now and there is still so much violence going on against our community right now, I have a feeling that there is a lot of hope that we are going into the community. good direction.

“Sometimes it feels like it’s two steps forward, then 10 steps back,” said Dion Lim, presenter and reporter at KGO-TV San Francisco. “But it’s lucky now – people are paying attention. The world is watching and listening, which comforts me to continue. “

As NBC News correspondent Vicky Nguyen, who has visibly held back tears on the air following the Atlanta shootings, Lim said she too had “ crashed on television several times, but j ‘got to a point where everything is fine, because nobody ever said, “It’s not normal for you to feel like this.” And I think breaking that stigma is so helpful because I’ve been ashamed for a long time to show any emotion because we’ve been taught not to – to just report the news. But I think if you don’t, then something’s wrong – you’re almost not human. It is perfectly acceptable these days. Indeed, one of the most memorable moments in newscasting history came when the great Walter Cronkite choked on the air when he announced that President Kennedy had died from a gunshot. assassin in November 1963.

Actor Brian Tee (Chicago Med, the Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), said he too hoped that good would come from all the hatred and violence. “For me, I feel a sense of hope. I feel that sense of community really, really brought together like I never did in my entire career. Unfortunately, it took that much for everything to go smoothly. So there is this sense of hope that we can come together and create genuine and real progress for the next generations that come behind us. “

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