Allison Fine read the message while warming up at home after the Sunday rally.
A Federal Way small business owner of the Asian American community wrote to say they had wanted to attend the rally, but, fearing they and their family would be targeted, decided to stay home.
On March 21, about 70 people gathered at the intersection of S. 320th Street and Pacific Highway South in Federal Way to show support for Federal Way’s Asian American community.
The Stop Asian Hate rally, standing in solidarity and denouncing a recent uptick in hate crimes against Asian American community members, was organized by Fine with an encouraging nudge from resident Shanté Lane.
Lane, 31, met Fine last summer at a Black Lives Matter protest in Federal Way. As a Black woman, Lane said seeing people of all different ethnicities show up to support made her feel like the Black community wasn’t fighting alone.
“I want [the Asian American community] to know they don’t have to fight by themselves,” Lane said. “We have to support each other in our times of need … if all these marginalized groups can stand together, then we make up the majority.”
Battling Stage 4 kidney failure and in search of a kidney donor, Lane said she was nervous about the health risks of attending Sunday’s rally. But all attendees were spaced, safe and full of love, she said.
“The reality is, is that I wish we didn’t have to be out there today … I wish that we had equity and people didn’t have to be fearful about going out of their house,” Fine later said on her Facebook Live recap of the event.
Most of Fine’s life has been centered on advocacy and organizing. She is the chair of the 30th District Democrats and a social worker for the state of Washington.
But, this event was not attached to any organization. It was, however, a quick-moving show of community magic, she said.
Nolan Cho, store manager of the Starbucks at 1301 S. 320th Street, has worked with Fine for other activist rallies, but when recent events unfolded, he wasn’t sure what to do.
“I didn’t even know I needed it, but I’m glad that it happened,” said Cho, a Chinese immigrant. “That’s true allyship right there.”
The myth of Asian Americans being “model minorities” is changing, Cho said, because “if we don’t speak out against racism, we’re letting it win and that’s not OK.”
Word of the event reached corporate leaders at Starbucks, and several attended the Federal Way rally to support Cho and the Asian American community.
In addition to the support of several elected officials and dozens of community members taking to the streets with signs, nearby Infinity Nail Bar donated food purchased from the Honey Bear Vietnamese Sandwich restaurant for the volunteers.
Sunday’s rally was an opportunity for every culture to step up together and say “we will not tolerate this behavior,” she said. In today’s society, there are groups of people who are fearful of police or afraid to leave their homes, “just for living in their skin,” Allison said. “No one should feel like that.”
An increase in anti-Asian American hate has shifted from passive behaviors by communities, such as not supporting Asian-owned businesses in the area, into violent attacks. On March 16 near Atlanta, Georgia, a 21-year-old man went on a shooting spree, killing eight people at three different spas. Of the eight people killed, six of the victims appeared to be Asian women, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Taking action mattered, Fine said.
“Those three hours were a moment in time where I hope that the community, if you weren’t out there,” Fine said of the rally, “you will see that you are respected and you are loved and you are cared for and we are here for you.”