Newly-elected Youth Mayor, Jihyeok Chang of the LA Y Teens & Government Program, speaks up against anti-Asian hate at the unity rally hosted in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Chang spoke alongside city municipal officials, local leaders, and journalist/host Lisa Ling of This Is Life with Lisa Ling on CNN.
"It didn’t matter that I lived here all my life. It didn’t matter how well I spoke English or how much I tried to act like my white peers. To some, I would always be an outsider," Chang shared.
But it was the following statement that led Saturday's crowd of both young and old to cheers, "I believe this movement is a sign that the Asian American community is done walking away."
Youth and teen programs such as the LA Y Teens & Government are providing our youth with opportunities and giving them the leadership skills and confidence they need to be heard beyond the classroom or virtual meeting room. The youth of today are our leaders of tomorrow.
The Anderson Munger Family YMCA is in the heart of Koreatown serving the community for seven years. During this time, it has seen its share of anti-Asian racism not only against the facility itself but also affecting its community members and program participants, particularly the elderly. In recent weeks there has been an escalation in incidents leading the LA Y to organize a rally to show support for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and #stopasianhate.
The YMCA has always championed inclusion and diversity. It believes in order to strengthen community, action must be taken to ensure there is equity for all. Through abundant conversation and dialogue, particularly led by our youth and teens, it is the belief that much needed change can happen by bringing awareness to these and many other issues faced by marginalized groups in the community.