By John Ramos

SAN MATEO (KPIX) — A rally on the Peninsula Saturday afternoon called attention to the surge in attacks on Asian people across the country and provided an opportunity for the community to stand with their Asian American neighbors. As it happens, it took the conscience of a child to get the whole thing started.

The rash of violent attacks on Asian people, many of them elderly, has shocked the nation so 13-year old Ashlyn So decided to take action.

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“It’s so sad and this shouldn’t be happening,” said the 7th grader from Burlingame. “Right away I knew I had to do something about it and I just wanted to start a rally so I told my mom I want to start a rally. And here we are!”

With help from her mother and activists from the Millbrae Anti-Racist Coalition, several hundred citizens showed up for the “Stand for Asians” march and rally at San Mateo Central Park on Saturday.

“I think it does help,” said Millbrae ARC founding member Katie Nolan-Stevaux. “I think it also sends a signal to the community, to the people who are affected and deal with this every day that they are not alone.”

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Many feel the attacks on the Asian community are due to racial scapegoating by the Trump administration for the coronavirus, coupled with a sense that Asian people are “easy marks” who will not speak up if victimized.

“Racism towards Asians, in general, has been going on for so long and it hasn’t really been talked about at all, hasn’t been covered by the main media,” said 16-yr-old Allison Zhu. “So, while it is surprising, it’s not something new.”

That’s what former Golden State Warrior Jeremy Lin was talking about when he posted a message on Instagram saying “We are tired of being told that we don’t experience racism, we are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble.”

Jeremy Lin is famous. Ashlyn So is not. Together, though, they are opening eyes and ears of people who may not understand how hard it is to be considered “different.”

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“It’s part of our culture to not speak out — ‘everything’s going to be fine,’ you know?” Ashlyn said. “Just keep your mouth shut and it’s OK. Just power through it, you know? And I just think that we’re all here to speak out — all here to give a voice to those who are voiceless.”