March 3, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Two City Council candidates who are vying for the 26th Council District seat in western Queens are joining together this weekend to host a rally against Asian hate.
Julie Won and Steven Raga are hosting the “Stand Up Against Asian Hate” rally on Saturday, March 6 at Bliss Plaza, located at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. The rally will begin at 1 p.m.
Won, a first-generation Korean immigrant, and Raga, a Filipino American, have organized the rally in response to a recent uptick in attacks against Asian New Yorkers.
Last month there were at least two such attacks in Queens alone, including one incident in which a 52-year-old Asian woman was shoved to the ground by a man in Flushing.
The recent jump in anti-Asian attacks comes after a year of increased Asian bias–primarily tied to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were 28 hate crimes against Asian Americans in New York last year, compared to just three in 2019, according to the NYPD.
Won said racism against Asian Americans has been a longstanding issue that has been missing from the traditional “Black and White” race narrative in the U.S. It has also been compounded by the “model minority” myth that has pitted the Asian community against other communities of color, she said.
“In our multi-racial city, we must stand in solidarity against racism of all forms to dismantle the system that nurtures inequities,” Won said. “As a city, acknowledging anti-Asian racism is a crucial step in our anti-racist work. It’s not Black against white, it’s everyone against racism.”
The rise in bias attacks against Asian Americans was what prompted Raga, a board member of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), to run for City Council.
“We need to address these issues,” Raga told the Queens Post last month. “The city has played down this issue for far too long.”
The Queens rally will be held exactly a week after a Manhattan “Rise Up Against Asian Hate” rally organized by the Asian American Federation.
Raga and Won are two of roughly 20 candidates running to represent Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and parts of Astoria in the City Council.
The seat is currently held by term-limited Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who is running for Queens Borough President.