Sandra Oh gives moving speech at Pittsburgh rally against anti-Asian violence

By Zach Harper

Canada's Sandra Oh made a surprise appearance at a March 21 rally in Pittsburgh that was held as one of several protests against recent anti-Asian attacks and anti-Asian violence.

The Ottawa-born star had a megaphone during her appearance, and was standing with everyone else in the crowd as a group of masked demonstrators gathered at a street corner in the Pennsylvania city. She was dressed casually in jeans and a sweater.

"Pittsburgh, I am so happy and proud to be here with you, and thank you to all the organizers for organizing this just to give us an opportunity to be together and stand together and to feel each other," the two-time Golden Globe-winning actress said as she spoke through a megaphone.

"For many of us in our community, this is the first time we are even able to voice our fear and our anger, and I really am so grateful to everyone willing to listen.

"I know many of us in our community are very scared, and I understand that. And one way to get through our fear is to reach out to our communities. I will challenge everyone here: If you see something, will you help me?"

Following her brief remarks, the 49-year-old Killing Eve star and Grey's Anatomy alum started two chants: "I am proud to be Asian" and "I belong here."

Since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, more than 3,800 anti-Asian attacks and acts of violence have been reported in the United States, according to the organization Stop AAPI Hate. (AAPI is an acronym that means Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.) More than 500 of those incidents have been logged since the beginning of 2021 alone.

Canada is also not immune to this type of violence, which has been increasing in Canada over the last year, too, according to The RepresentASIAN Project. The organization says British Columbia had the largest number of reports of anti-Asian attacks and violence per person in North America in 2020, and that per Asian capita, Canada reported more of these incidents than our neighbours to the south.

Stars have been speaking out against anti-Asian violence and attacks in light of this, and following the March 16 series of shootings in the Atlanta area which claimed the lives of eight people, among whom were six women of Asian descent. According to The New York Times, police said they did not believe bias was a motivation for the shootings, but it has not been ruled out.

Olivia Munn attended the #StopAsianHate rally in New York City on March 21. As she has been doing for a while, she also spent the last week speaking out against what has been happening, both on social media and in interviews.

The actress, whose mother came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam, appeared on Gayle King in the House on SiriusXm on March 18 to speak about the Atlanta shootings. She told Gayle it was "powerful" for her to see U.S. President Joe Biden order American flags to fly at half-mast after the March 16 shootings.

"It was an emotional moment for all of us," Olivia said of a talk she had with journalist Lisa Ling, in which they spoke about the order, "and we all took a moment and just cried together."

On March 18, former Hawaii Five-0 star Daniel Dae Kim spoke to the Congressional House Committee on the Judiciary about increasing anti-Asian hatred and anti-Asian racism. He also appeared on the Today show to talk about the issue on the same day.

Daniel said "cross-cultural collaboration" with those who are not Asian is "crucial" to solving this issue. He also added some of the "most vulnerable" people are being affected by these attacks – the elderly and women – while children are seeing increased bullying in schools.

"It's not an Asian American issue; it's a human issue," he said.

Daniel went on to say this moment is a "tipping point" because he has seen progress in terms of representation for people of Asian descent in the media.

"We have Parasite that won Best Picture [at the Oscars] last year, we have more Oscar nominees of Asian descent this year than any other year, and so, our visibility is increasing, and we have a younger generation that is much more fearless than those of my generation," the dad of two said.

"I can tell you, my kids are outspoken, and I'm so proud of them for it because they don't feel the same need to stay quiet and to be silent, and I think that is a really encouraging sign for the future."

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