Written by CAPA-JRC Reporters Joy Jiang and Lucy Wu
After a surge in anti-Asian violence within the past few months, many Asian Americans have been seeking a feeling of safety in their communities. One campaign seeks to give them a means of self-protection. Aptly named, the Yellow Whistle Project aims to arm Asian Americans with yellow whistles, which they can use to call for help in the case of an emergency. These yellow whistles serve as a symbol of belonging and solidarity, reminding Asian Americans that they are not alone in their fight against racism.
CAPA-MC and CCACC heard about the Yellow Whistle Project as they were raising awareness about anti-Asian hate, and reached out to bring the yellow whistles to Montgomery County. Since then, they have been coordinating with local senior centers to distribute the whistles, visiting three centers within the last week.
On Tuesday, July 13, CAPA-MC volunteers visited the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center to distribute the Yellow Whistle. Attended by people such as Lily Qi, a Maryland House Delegate, and Yi Shen, the Asian Liaison at the Office of Community Partnerships, volunteers were able to distribute around 100 whistles to the all seniors and staff at the center. They explained how to wear and use the Yellow Whistle, as well as its importance.
“This is exactly what we need for personal protection and awareness,” Qi said, “It is a very accessible, affordable, and convenient way to provide people with personal protection.” As the Yellow Whistle can overcome the language barriers, Qi encouraged not only the Asian American community but also other immigrant communities to participate in this project. “It doesn't matter your age or race; it can be helpful to anyone,” Qi concluded.
Furthermore, Shen also delivered his message to the community at the event. He emphasized the importance of reporting the incidents to police officers. If people continuously ignore the perpetrators, “it could get to a point where they start yelling at people, and then escalate to hitting somebody, and if Asians don’t report this, then it’s going to keep happening,” Yi explained. As stated by the Montgomery police, every single claim that gets reported to them will be investigated. In addition, Yi also suggests traveling in groups at night, carrying little to no cash as to not make yourself a target, and be aware of your surroundings. “The main thing is to call 911, don’t be a hero, don’t do anything yourself,” said Shen.
Please call 911 for emergencies, and 301-279-8000 for non-emergencies.
CAPA-MC volunteers also visited the WorldShine Adult Medical Day Care Center to distribute the Yellow Whistle on Thursday, July 15. A short speech was delivered to explain the origin and importance of the Yellow Whistle Project. Over 60 seniors participated in the distribution and they are all very grateful for this distribution and think it is very helpful.
One of the managers of the center indicated that the event has significantly increased the awareness of the seniors about the recent anti-Asian hate incidents. “It allows them to understand that we are not a lonely and vulnerable group, that there are people helping us, and that we can also help ourselves, as well as bring them a sense of security,” the manager continued.
Julie Yang, the Yellow Whistle Project lead and CAPA-MC representative, concluded at the end: “We advocate for ourselves, we advocate for all the people, and also always think about what are the ways we can contribute to make others’ lives better.”
On the next day, July 16, another Yellow Whistle distribution was hosted at the Jasmine Medical Day Care. All volunteers, including CAPA-MC President Dingmei Zhou and students from the Asian American Progressive Student Union, were warmly welcomed by the seniors with their special customized jasmine flower song. Through the event, the volunteers and seniors shared their experiences with racism and expressed their feelings about this difficult time.
“Today was really eye-opening for me,” expressed by Kelly Ji, the President of the Asian American Progressive Student Union, “It was really great to be able to interact with people who are directly affected by what’s happening and being able to see that I am able to help them. It is really hopeful!” As a message to the community, Kelly continued, “It is really important to protect not just the seniors, but every single person around you, especially if they are a minority that is at risk of being marginalized, and taking an active step such as volunteering, or just helping them out in any ways possible actually makes a really really huge difference.” She understands that some people may not be willing to get involved, but she suggests that even something as small as giving a donation can have a large impact on one’s life.
CAPA-MC President Dingmei Zhou also believes that the significance of this project is profound. As the Yellow Whistle Project has become a national movement, it is the first time Zhou has seen such a large, organized, planned, and purposeful event in the United States for over 20 years. “I hope that when we look back in 10 or the next 20 years, we will feel that this was a solid and meaningful step,” said Zhou. Moreover, Zhou also advocates that community is about seeking common ground while preserving differences. “We need to unite, love each other, and avoid internal conflict during this special time,” she stated.
Zhou is not the only one optimistic about the future impact of the project. “We are hoping that we can move beyond the most vulnerable population to the general public later on in the year so that we can all have a conversation about safety, community building, and fighting against racism and violence,” added Yang.
Moving forward, two upcoming Yellow Whistle distributions will be hosted on July 23rd at the JiaYuan Senior Center and on July 27th at another WorldShine Adult Medical Day Care. Let’s stand up, speak up, and stop anti-Asian hate together!
To learn more about the Yellow Whistle Project, please visit www.theyellowwhistle.org.
This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.