Ankita Bharadwaj’s #StopAsianHate public comments to the Madison Common Council on March 30, 2021

by | Mar 31, 2021 | 0 comments

First I want to thank my fellow Asians- Alder Shiva Bidar and Alder Syed Mustajab Abbas for bringing this resolution on the floor. It’s high time we are heard. Thanks for reaching out to me and inviting me to speak tonight.

I want to start my testimony tonight with a poem written by Rabindra Nath Tagore over 100 years ago on the topic of freedom for undivided India.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way;
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee;
Into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom,
My Father, let my country awake.

I often wonder how good allyship to me, as an Asian woman, would look like. But, you see, it is difficult to describe something you have never seen. Our communities are marred with narratives that push us Asian women towards whiteness without giving us access to it. These narratives seek to falsely advertise our oppression as something that is conditional. That only occurs when we are in the wrong. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong manner. I ask all of you tonight- who creates these standards of “wrongness” for us? Who decides our position in the society – an oppressed class with no recognition of existence? What do you know about Asia and us Asians that is not merely a statistic? Statistic of death. Of rape. Of physical assault. Of denial of humanity. That is not merely a flavor of what we wear, speak, pray to or eat?

One cannot #StopAsianHate until one seeks to learn what Stop to us means. What Asian means and finally what Hate to us means. You cannot defeat an enemy you know nothing about. Therefore, we must LISTEN, LEARN, UNLEARN and UNDERSTAND. As a community. We must INCLUDE, ADVOCATE FOR and RECOGNIZE. We must REALIZE. Because until we do, no God can help us wake into the heaven of freedom we all desire so badly.

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