By Betty Yu

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — An Asian-American Facebook executive spoke out Sunday, saying the recent surge of violence against Asians is a painful reminder of the hate crime his own grandfather experienced decades ago.

The wave of assaults has forced Eric Toda to revisit a painful memory. The matter is deeply personal for the 36-year-old Facebook marketing executive.

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“My grandfather was the victim of a hate crime in the Outer Richmond of San Francisco in the late 90s. Nothing was stolen, no words were exchanged, again, he was just beaten,” said Toda.

More than 20 years later, Toda is using his platform to speak out against anti-Asian racism. He penned an article on Feb. 11 in Adweek titled ‘My People Are Dying in Silence– and I’m Here With A Megaphone.’

It reads in part:

“Unlike my grandfather’s beating, today’s incidents are not isolated, nor are they one-offs. Sadly, this isn’t new. Asian Americans have been targeted, physically attacked or murdered from the beginning of our country’s history.

But today I am terrified—terrified that we are witnessing one of the largest stretches of hate crime against Asian Americans in my lifetime. The surge is staggering: there’s been a 1,900% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City in the past year.

And no one is paying attention. No big news outlets. No brands. No influencers. No hashtags. Silence.”

Toda says the model minority myth placed on Asian Americans is largely to blame.

“The Asian American experience in America is one that’s often times characterized as the model minority, where we are very silent, we work hard, we’re not going to call the cops, we’re just going to float on by, and hopefully have some level of socioeconomic success because of that,” Toda said.

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In recent weeks, major brands including Nike, Estee Lauder and HBO have called out Asian hate on social media in the wake of recent attacks from the Bay Area to New York City.

The Stop AAPI Hate reporting center has collected more than 3,000 self-reported instances of racism or violence against Asian Americans, since the pandemic began.

Toda wants to see more support from white decisionmakers at top brands, particularly tech companies, which employ large numbers of Asian American professionals, and more diversity within companies.

“A lot of companies treat diversity as black and white – it’s not,” he said. “Asian Americans are typically left off anti-racism training in diversity and inclusion programs. Asian Americans are typically left off diversity slates in hiring, because people believe if a company employs 50% Asian Americans – they’re good.”

Toda says the problem is far fewer make it to leadership roles, particularly in Silicon Valley.

In the short-term, he encourages people to volunteer as chaperones helping at-risk Asian citizens safety walk the streets in places like Oakland and San Francisco Chinatown.

He also urges people to donate their time and money to Asian advocacy groups to further their work in the long run.

“It’s not just one community versus another. This will happen again to another community, and we need to be standing with the anti-racist education and learnings that we had in 2020, and take them throughout time,” Toda said.

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He added that Facebook has been very supportive of his efforts to bring change.