Eva Chen has been a vocal supporter of the #StopAsianHate movement and on Tuesday, the director of fashion partnerships at Instagram hosted a Live chat with prominent Asian voices — filmmaker Cathy Yan, civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen and Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee to discuss their personal experiences. The event raised funds for the Asian Americans Advancing Justice non-profit.
During the Instagram Live Room event, the panelists discussed the increased violence against the Asian-American community. “I feel rage, anger, sadness [and] worry,” Chen said at the start of the chat.
These year-long attacks on elderly Asian Americans — which has been linked to former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” — recently sparked a national dialogue surrounding anti-Asian rhetoric.
This has since prompted leaders in fashion and entertainment, from Olivia Munn to Phillip Lim, to speak out against racism.
For Nguyen, it was her viral Instagram Reel calling out national media outlets for not covering these racist attacks that has help raise significant awareness. “This may be the first time you are hearing about this violence if you are not following Asian American news because the mainstream media does not spotlight our stories. We matter. Racism Kills,” is what she wrote in the Feb. 5 post.
During the talk, the group spoke on ways the next generation of activists can continue to be empowered — part of that is through social media.
“I didn’t feel confident having my own strong opinions, honestly until I was 30. It took me a long time,” said Chen.
Ngyuen added, “Keep on pushing that moral arch. For folks who feel small or hurt right now, the most powerful tool we all have is our voice. I have tremendous hope. The future is up to us to define. People responded in millions to a call-to-action for us to share our grief, our collective power and to the idea that we don’t have to be silent anymore. If there are structures that have systematically locked us out, we will turn to other platforms like social media in order to democratize our voices.”
Yan, who directed “Dead Pigs” and “Birds of Prey,” spoke on the lack of representation in film and assured what will push progress forward is telling stories of “this otherness that we spent most of our lives trying to erase.”
These all-encompassing stories are also needed in the fashion and beauty industries, according to Lee.
“We can be bucketed. People don’t understand us,” she said. “Our responsibility and opportunity is to tell those nuanced stories. Asian-ness exists on such a wide spectrum, but a lot of times, people see us through a narrow lens and that’s what’s really dangerous.”