The coronavirus pandemic has had one sad and bizarre consequence: Some in the U.S. have lashed out at Asian-Americans, simply because the pandemic started in China before quickly spreading across the globe. That’s led a group of people to come together in Oakland, California, to escort their Asian-American neighbors safely.
According to CNN, the organization known as Compassion in Oakland started with Jacob Azevedo. His reaction to seeing two unprovoked attacks on Asian-Americans, within an hour of each other on social media, led him to believe something needed to be done.
He put out a call on social media, offering to walk with anyone in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood to help them feel safe.
“I wasn’t intending to be some kind of vigilante,” Azevedo, 26, said in the CNN story. “I just wanted to offer people some kind of comfort.”
Within days, nearly 300 volunteers made a pledge to Azevedo to join him to protect the community, and Compassion in Oakland was born.
According to its website, its mission is simple and direct: “We strive to provide the Oakland Chinatown Community with a resource for promoting safety and community. We aim to embrace the often forgotten, underserved, and vulnerable. We promote compassion not indifference, unity as opposed to divisiveness. Fostering a more caring and safer Oakland for all.”
Azevedo, who is Latino, acted in part out of the belief that all people of color need to stand in solidarity with the Asian-American community. According to CNN, all people from all racial backgrounds and ages reached out to him, sharing the same desire to help support the community.
“This is important because this community just needs healing,” Azevedo said. “There’s a lot of racial tensions going on because of the previous president’s rhetoric,” which included referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus.”
“In general, our communities need healing. This is an issue that’s been ongoing for a while.”
That sentiment was echoed by Stop APPI Hate Co-Founder Cynthia Choi in the article, who noted, “This is a problem and issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention, especially in low-income communities. And of course the pandemic, I think has exacerbated the conditions and exposed racial disparities.”
She noted how encouraging the presence of Compassion in Oakland is, noting, “It’s showing our elders who are afraid, afraid to leave their house that we’re here, we want to support you we’re holding you right now.”
Lead image: Compassion in Oakland/Instagram.