GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Freshman U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer was home in Grand Rapids Friday to talk with leaders from the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community about their experiences with racism.
The meeting took place at the Goei Center, a popular venue on Butterworth Street SE. A number of business owners and community leaders were part of the conversation.
They say they spoke to Meijer about the increased discrimination they have faced during the pandemic.
“This is not just statistics, these are actually human lives and human stories that have impacted individuals in his district,” said Bing Goei, who owns the Goei Center and is also the CEO of Eastern Floral on Broadmoor Avenue in Grand Rapids.
He said many Asian Americans are living in fear that they will be next to be attacked. At the meeting with Meijer, he recounted the story of one local woman who closed her business completely following the Atlanta-area spa shootings that left six Asian women dead.
“The commitment that we have made as the West Michigan Asian community is that we will not be silent anymore, not because we want to always be confrontational but because it is in the best interest of all of us, no matter who we are, to share with each other our strengths and our weaknesses,” Goei said.
Goei said the AAPI community needs support and access to mental health resources.
Business owners say they’re hoping to meet with Meijer again soon. They also challenged him to become one of the first Republicans to sign on to a resolution sponsored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., that denounces Asian hate.
Goei says the AAPI community will host a #StopAsianHate/#SolidarityAgainsrRacism rally on April 17 at 3 p.m. at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. There they will have speakers from several marginalized groups including the Black, Latino, disabled and LGTBQ communities. They say they hope to have Meijer join them.