Michelle Tran, a Chinese and Vietnamese American medical student living in the city, was shocked to see this spike of violence and wanted to do something to help her community.
“As an Asian American woman, I’ve seen that we can be the target for what we look like,” Tran said. “My friends started spitting and shouting and calling me ‘Chinese virus’.”
“I’m starting to realize that a lot of people don’t know where to get resources or don’t have the money to buy personal alarms,” he said.
As of March 2021, Tran said the company had handed over more than 25,000 personal protective devices. They prioritize the most vulnerable, such as essential workers, the elderly, women, and low-income Asian Americans.
Often at nonprofit distribution events, hundreds of members of the AAPI community line up to receive a personal protection device. At a recent Yu and Me Books event in Chinatown, NYC, about 1,000 women waited in the cold for more than an hour to get a handheld device for protection.
“It was heartbreaking at the same time, but it inspired a lot of people to come out,” Tran said. “I think it highlights the need and the fear that a lot of people like me are feeling right now.”
“After this intense media coverage of Asian American women being attacked and humiliated and beaten, we really wanted to restore our sense of strength and power,” Tran said.
Self-defense classes teach women situational awareness and how to avoid or avoid attacks.
To help individuals deal with the trauma they are experiencing, the nonprofit organization provides need-based scholarships for AAPI youth, in addition to culturally skilled therapies for victims of anti-Asian hatred and their family members.
Tran says he has a hope for his work to move forward: to help save lives.
“I hope people who take our personal protective devices or attend our self-defense classes feel more empowered to fight,” he said. “And if such a situation ever arises, they will know how to defend themselves and keep it intact.”