Recently, a Filipino woman distributing masks to fellow passengers on the subway was suddenly attacked by two individuals screaming racial slurs at her. Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, a Filipino stage actor was assaulted while on the way to his apartment.
The Filipino American community in New York, headed by lawyer Lara Gregory, as a result launched Filipino Americans for Racial Action (FARA), an organization empowering the minority to come together, be seen, be heard and rise above the challenges of hate crimes.
Anti-Asian violence made headlines during the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020, stemming from ignorance about Asians in general and Covid-19 origins.
According to a Pew Research survey in April 2021, 32 percent of adult Asians experience fear, anxiety and loss of a sense of security as xenophobic and racist incidents increase.
The prevalence of these events pushed Gregory to use her voice and call for racial changes. Through FARA, she hopes to offer a safe space where the racial assault victims and other stakeholders may freely share their stories without prejudice.
The organization also champions legislative changes and racial unity, as well as eradicates cultural ignorance through education and pertinent facts about the community.
Atty. Gregory is an immigration lawyer and community activist who is at the forefront of fighting Anti-Asian hate by using her extensive international legal experience in defending vulnerable individuals of minor communities. She believes everyone should speak up because the local government has resources to help those who are affected by the brutal attacks.
“If you remain silent, nothing will change,” said Gregory. “There are a lot of resources and protection, so there’s no reason to be silent. We need to come together because regardless of our differences in faith, color, race or ethnicity, we are united in wanting the health of our community and the flourishing of the city. Because when the city flourishes, the people also flourish.”
In a recent virtual event, letting one’s voice be heard was further emphasized by two racial progress activists: founding member of the Filipino Americans for Racial Action and behavioral psychiatrist, Dr. Romulo Aromin, and licensed psychologist Dr. Lirio Sobrevinas-Covey.
Dr. Aromin pointed out how hate crimes are deeply rooted in the lack of cultural sensitivity. “The problem lies in not knowing the culture of others,” he said. While Dr. Lirio mentioned how Asians are not regarded as the first level of social class in the US, she said, “What’s common to hate crimes is that the victim is seen as inferior.”
FARA is determined to proactively terminate cultural ignorance by becoming more than an institution but a community that offers people of different minority groups a space where they can exchange culture, history and heritage without fear and prejudices.