GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A “Stop Asian Hate” rally took place Saturday afternoon at Rosa Parks Circle.

Leaders from West Michigan’s Asian American community and politicians from West Michigan and beyond spoke at the rally. 

“A moment which gave me a lot of hope,” said Bing Goei, a board director at the West Michigan Asian American Association. “We’re living in a time in which hope has been somewhat diminished in our lives.”

The Asian American community has been under attack since the start of the pandemic. 

“Using terms like ‘China virus’ or ‘Kung Fu’ has been very harmful,” said Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, the first Asian American woman elected to Michigan’s Legislature. 

Other examples have had deadly outcomes, like last month’s shooting in Georgia, in which six Asian women died. 

“It hurts because what we’ve done for the quality of life for everyone has been diminished,” said Goei. 

Goei believes contributions made by Asian Americans to U.S. history should be highlighted during this period of pain for the Asian community. He thinks highlighting positive examples would help build bridges with the Asian community. 

“We know that the rights to be a U.S. citizen if you’re born here — even if your parents were not U.S. citizens — came because a Chinese gentlemen named Wong Kim Ark fought it all the way to the Supreme Court and won that case,” said Goei. 

Chang takes pride in her role as the first Asian American woman to be elected to the state’s legislature. 

“Always stand up when I see Asian-American people being attacked,” said Chang. “It’s also my job to help bring along a future generation of Asian-American public servants.”

Chang sponsored a bill last month which would condemn hateful acts and rhetoric against Asian-Americans. It passed the senate.