Volunteers gathered in Chinatown’s Columbus Park last Sunday to help the local Asian-American community heal from the recent spike in hate crimes.
Soar Over Hate, an NYC 501(c)3 non-profit founded by NYC medical student Michelle Tran, cites its mission as “supporting the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the face of escalating anti-Asian violence.” Tran founded the organization as a response to the disturbing increase in hate crimes during the pandemic.
Soar Over Hate members at the Columbus Park “AAPI Care Fair” taught self-defense classes and distributed free self-defense devices, with the goal of equipping the AAPI community to fight back against targeted racial violence. It was their second such event this year. According to the organizers, 1500 people of all ages attended the event.
After the first AAPI Care Fair this past winter, Tran stated that she had been receiving “an outpouring of requests for personal safety devices from concerned Asian folks and therapy from victims of anti-Asian hate crimes.” The event this past Sunday was designed to continue meeting those needs. In addition to the self-defense classes, the fair also featured a group therapy session as well as cultural performances such as a hula class and Chinese Yo-Yo.
“After a tough two years of increased racially motivated violence against Asians in New York City, we wanted to put together a free event for the community that emphasized not only safety, but healing,” says Tran.
According to their website, Soar Over Hate has distributed 29,000+ personal alarms, whistles and pepper spray across New York and California since its founding in March 2021. They also have a Bright Futures Scholarship, which provides need-based scholarships to AAPI 12th graders in New York City.
Those interested in donating to Soar Over Hate may visit its website at https://www.soaroverhate.org/.
This article has been updated with additional reporting and photos.