Asian American voices won't be silent after Delaware House Ethics Committee dismissal of Brady complaint - Technical.ly Delaware

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Asian American voices won’t be silent after Delaware House Ethics Committee dismissal of Brady complaint

"Our goal is to set an example for lawmakers, to show public figures it is not OK to normalize Asian hate, it is not OK to sexualize Asian women, because it doesn't just hurt our feelings, it costs lives," Delaware Asian American Voice founder Yushu Fu said.

Asian Americans are often treated like visitors in their own country.

(Image via Twitter.com/AsianDelaware)

Whatever you do, don’t tell Yushu Fu you’re sorry that the Delaware House Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against a state lawmaker for this:

“What are they sorry about?” she asks, exasperated. “It isn’t over.”

Fu is the founder of Delaware Asian American Voice, created on social media in July after State Rep. Gerald Brady’s racist email — private, but sent using a delaware.gov email address — was anonymously leaked to The News Journal. Over the next two months there were apologies, accusations of outsiders trying to “cancel” Brady, and a lot of silence from elected officials. All of this came just months after the Delaware State Senate passed an SR-9, a Senate Resolution “condemning anti-Asian and Pacific Islander violence and xenophobic rhetoric.”

The General Assembly appears eager to move on after the House Ethics Committee’s dismissal of the complaint filed by Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, alleging that his actions broke the chamber’s rules of legislative conduct (specifically, “A member shall not engage in conduct which the House determines brings the House into disrepute or reflects adversely on the member’s fitness to hold legislative office.”)

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Fu is not. It’s not just about the email, she says.

“This is systemic racism at this point,” she said. “It’s the state saying we just really don’t matter.”

After following Delaware Asian American Voice on Twitter through the Ethics Committee ordeal, Technical.ly reached out to Fu to get more insight on the campaign, and to find out what’s next for Delaware’s growing Asian American advocacy network.

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Technical.ly: How did Delaware Asian American Voice come together?

Fu: We were not really politically active before, we were just living our life. The majority of the Asian communities are just very quiet in general, but Asians had a tough year last year. Everybody had a tough year, but it was difficult for us, especially after the [Atlanta spa] shooting in March. I think a lot of people started thinking, “You know what? We have to do something to protect ourselves.”

After the news came out about Gerald Brady and what he said in his email, we were just shocked. I remember I had to read the news twice. Did he really say that?

I was really upset because — maybe I was a little naive — but I feel like the whole Stop Asian Hate movement got a lot of coverage by the media. Everybody was talking about it. You somehow assumed that people are aware this is an issue and our struggles are valid. But in Delaware, our own state elected official had so little respect for people who look like me.

We started just writing emails to the lawmakers to express our concerns, and then we realized that they had very little interest in actually supporting us. Very soon they started saying, “Well, his apology was sincere, so we’re going to send him to sensitivity training,” and we realized, OK, we’ve got more work to do. If that’s what you want to do, just the sensitivity training, we’re going to raise money to put a billboard up.

People were very generous. They started saying, “Do you have a GoFundMe?” So we set up a GoFundMe. That’s how everything worked for us, just step by step. It wasn’t really a plan. After we set a GoFundMe, we raised enough money to start looking for billboards. There were a lot of hiccups because they have a lot of rules. Since it’s a political ad, they ask you to pay from a business account, so we registered as a nonprofit. All we wanted to say was “Gerald Brady Resign” and “Stop Asian Hate.” And we were were asked to remove “Stop Asian Hate” because [the billboard company] said that is an attack. This whole process, there’s a lot of frustration.

What was the initial response to your emails?

None of those leadership members ever contacted us or even just responded to our emails. We wrote to members of the House, members of the Senate. The Senate — there’s a lot of hypocrisy there. In March, after the shooting happened, the whole country was “Stop Asian Hate.” It was a popular saying. Everybody was stopping Asian hate. Well, we appreciate that, we finally got some coverage, that was good.

The Delaware Senate passed a resolution saying “We condemn all forms of Asian hate, we stand firmly with our Asian community,” blah blah blah. Seventeen senators authored this resolution. And guess what? When this happened, only two of them [Sarah McBride and Laura Sturgeon] said something. The majority of them are awfully quiet. They just play dead. My own senator, right after this happened, I contacted him. I said you need to condemn him publicly, it’s not OK, I live in your district. He had the nerve to tell me, “It’s time to heal.”

The ethics committee has five members. They make their own rules. And when you ask a question, they say “We’re just following the rules.” It’s a dead end. You cannot win in this game.

The very sad truth is that what Gerald Brady said was really not the worst part. What happened after just kept getting worse and worse.

We’re treated like forever visitors. This summer the Chinese and Korean communities had their festivals, and the politicians showed up. Later they would say, “Well, we really enjoyed the dragon dance.” No, say something about Gerald Brady! You’re right inside this room, and — “Enjoyed the dragon dance”? That’s our experience.

I see people spend a lot of time making fun of those conservative states like Alabama, and I’m like, people, wake up. Delaware has given a green light to be racist.

So what now?

[In its report, the House Ethics Committee] capitalized the word “final,” so I think they’re fed up about it, but this isn’t over. We’re doing some regrouping and reaching out to the national AAPI organizations and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance for support. Delaware basically closed the door on us, so if anything’s going to be a change, it’s going to come from higher levels.

We don’t think they followed proper procedure, so maybe [it will be revisited] down the road if we have the energy and courage. In our community, several organizations asked for his resignation, and all of us were cut off from the process completely. We had no idea what was going on, all the information we got was from the people who followed us.

What is your goal, ultimately?

Our goal is to set an example for lawmakers, to show public figures it is not OK to normalize Asian hate, it is not OK to sexualize Asian women, because it doesn’t just hurt our feelings, it costs lives. With the Atlanta spa shootings, that guy took out his “frustrations” on Asian women. They lost their lives, for what? For this long-lasted stereotype, and that really needs to stop.

When the shooting happened, and Asian people were being attacked in the street, I cried because I was so scared. How are we living in such a parallel world — people like me crying at the TV and people like our lawmaker just “making a joke”? How can you expect the people who look like me to trust the people like him to make policy? There’s just no way. How can we trust him? Consciously or unconsciously, he dehumanized us.

We want safety and dignity. We’re not asking a lot, but it’s a shame that you have to fight this hard to get pretty basic stuff.

What can people in the community — whether they are members of the Asian community or not — do to help?

Elected officials and community leaders, if you want to stand with us, stand with us now.

Asians are a small number in Delaware. We appreciate the non-Asian people who support us. I would say government accountability matters to everyone — not just to Asians, not just to minorities. The Ethics Committee is not working properly, and they have very little interest to hold their members accountable. That should be important to everyone.

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