In an NBC News virtual town hall on Wednesday, Asian American advocates, journalists and celebrities came together to speak on the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in the wake of global pandemic.
“The Racism Virus” town hall on NBC News Now featured basketball star Jeremy Lin, actress Olivia Munn, and many others.
Olivia told host Vicky Nguyen about deciding to use her voice to help stop the attacks.
“I don’t think that you ever think that you’re going to be part of something like this,” the 40-year-old said. “But I’m extremely grateful that the people have really responded.”
“It has been really disappointing to see how quiet everyone has been. There’s a lot of beauty brands, big companies, celebrities, everybody that was denouncing hate crimes against Black people in our country, and they were saying that they were anti-racist,” she said. “If you are anti-racist, you have to be against what’s happening to Asian Americans right now.”
Jeremy Lin told Vicky it’s vital for minority groups to connect with other minority groups, adding, “We need the minority and the majority to start to converse more, to hear more, to talk more.”
Lin also recalled how, in one crucial college game, he played terrible and “lost control” after being called a slur repeatedly.
“That’s when I realized my assistant coach at the time, Kenny Blakeney, he explained to me his experiences as an African American trying to play at Duke and what that was like,” he said. “For me, it just really challenged my perspective to see that when people come in and they say those things, they’re trying to get you out of your element.”
There was also a recent incident where he came out and stated how a player called him “coronavirus” during a game.
“I wrestled with whether to talk about it, whether to bring it up and things like that,” Lin said. “That’s verbal and that’s something that happened to me on the court, but I think what I’m trying to do is bring awareness to what is happening off the court, to people, to the elderly, to important people that we love and in our community.”
“It has been really disappointing to see how quiet everyone has been,” she said in the town hall. “If you are anti-racist, you have to be against what’s happening to Asian Americans right now.”