Actress Jamie Chung brought the "Stop Asian Hate" message to the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night. Chung wasted no time, presenting the new slogan boldly on a designer handbag she carried on the red carpet. The accessory had the words "STOP ASIAN HATE" emblazoned across the front.
Chung was nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble at the 2021 SAG Awards for her work on Lovecraft Country, alongside co-stars Aunjanue Ellis, Jada Harris, Abbey Lee, Jonathan Majors, Wunmi Mosaku, Jordan Patrick Smith, Jurnee Smollett and Michael Kenneth Williams. The show was lauded for pushing boundaries and confronting hard truths, and Chung carried that spirit forward with her red carpet attire. She wore a bright red gown with floral accents and strappy sandal heels, all matching her crimson handbag. In an Instagram post earlier in the day, she explained the subtleties in the outfit.
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"In Asian culture, the color red symbolizes luck, joy and happiness," Chung wrote. "Thank you Sarah Kim and Fernando Garcia for letting me wear this gorgeous dress [by Oscar de Larenta] for the [SAG Awards]."
"Stop Asian Hate" is a new anti-racist cry cropping up in response to the sudden surge in hate crimes against Asian American people and Asian immigrants in the U.S. The disturbing trend has been traced for a while now, but it really grabbed national attention last month when a white man carried out deadly shootings at several Asian-owned spas in Atlanta, Georgia.
According to a report by Reuters, hate crimes against Asian Americans have been skyrocketing since the coronavirus pandemic first hit, with many attackers buying into conspiracy theories about the virus' origins. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernadino told the outlet that crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were up by 145-percent in 2020. At the same time, hate crimes overall were trending downward.
All this has prominent public figures like Chung looking for what they can do to help, and Chung believes that honest media representation is an important first step. Last month, she told PopSugar: "I think it comes with confidence. A lot of Asian Americans experience imposter syndrome, always feeling like, 'You don't really belong here. This isn't your country. You're lucky to be here, you should work really hard and bite the bullet.' It's really unfortunate, but that's the way I was raised, to just keep my head down, do the work, and carry on. That carried into my film and television career when I was just starting out. I was just so grateful to be here and was not going to stir the pot. I was really appreciative, but not really standing my ground on what I think."
She went on: "So now we are the storytellers in the writers' room. There's a huge difference in being able to write our own stories and be involved in the process of storytelling, before it even reaches a studio or a script or before we shoot anything. Before it was just — I hate to say it but it's true — a nonminority male perspective of what it's like to be Asian American in America. I was so scared to say anything, but now, once you're given a microphone or when anyone is interested to hear your perspective, it's such a powerful moment because it's like, 'Oh wow, you really care what it's like,' or 'You do want this story to be more authentic.'"