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Uniting Against Anti-Asian Hate and Violence
Pient Tran is a Vice President in Capital One’s Regulatory Relations function. Prior to joining Capital One, Pient served in a number of leadership and executive roles at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. As the son of Chinese-Cambodian refugees, Pient proudly serves on the Executive Steering Committee for Capital One’s Asian and Pacific Islander Business Resource Group, Origins. He was appointed to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board by Governor Ralph Northam in 2020, and has served on the board of directors of ReEstablish Richmond since 2016, becoming Chair in 2018.
There’s no denying that 2020 did not turn out as anyone pictured. We are seeing glimmers of hope for a return to a sense of normalcy as vaccines are administered—but what lasting marks will the unprecedented year, complete with a pandemic, a fight for racial equity and a multitude of misinformation campaigns leave on our nation? According to Pient, Vice President, Regulatory Relations, one scar left from this pandemic will be the anti-Asian sentiment that has only increased due to misinformation and hurtful labels associated with the COVID-19 virus. He reflects on the painful events occurring as covered by the news and offers a message of encouragement and healing to help us move forward, together.
How one conversation foreshadowed a difficult year ahead
January 25, 2020 was the last time my family was able to gather around my parents’ dinner table. We were celebrating Lunar New Year together, and my mother prepared a Hot Pot for the celebration, a bubbling cauldron of spices and comfort. My parents were excited to teach the kids about the animal from the Chinese Zodiac that would represent the year and spoil them with an “ang bao” (red envelope in my native Hokkien). As the evening wound down, my parents asked if I had heard about the Coronavirus, and how back East was in a state of lockdown. At the time, I too casually dismissed it as temporary and had confidence that public health measures would reign this in. Though I didn’t yet realize how different this pandemic would be in the US, it was not lost on me that in our communities thousands of miles away the gatherings, fireworks, food and Lion Dancing that the holiday is known for were eerily absent.
Fast forward to this year, where there were no family celebrations for Lunar New Year. We are instead sad and fearful of unprovoked violence. Yes, there is hope for a gradual return to “normalcy” as vaccines continue to roll out. But there are also worrisome headlines and stories circulating in the news and our communities—ones of anti-Asian racism and elderly Asian Americans being attacked, beaten, targeted or killed all because certain people think they are to blame for the virus or worse, just being who they are. The coverage in the media has been inconsistent and slow to create awareness of anti-Asian racist crimes. It's so sad that so much violence and death was the catalyst to spark a wider American conversation.
Days before the Lunar New Year, national newspaper articles detailed the unprompted assault, and later death, of an 81 year-old Asian man. Another video emerged three days later, where a 91 year old East Asian man was brutally shoved to the ground. Another man and woman of Asian descent were attacked in similar fashion that very day. Tragically, the violence continued. Just this week eight people were brutally murdered, and one person critically injured in a mass shooting in Atlanta. Six of the victims were Asian women. I’ve heard divisive and xenophobic vitriol from public figures, the media and my fellow Americans, where labels like “Kung Flu” or “China Virus” were hatefully and flippantly used to describe COVID-19. I was appalled when I heard that language on national media and, if I’m being honest, it is hard for me to write about it now. I am many things at this moment.
- I am angry (just like many others within my network)
- I am fearful for the safety of all Asians, but especially for our elderly and women
- I am sad that our own associates have had to experience this type of bigotry
- I am exhausted by the hate in all its forms that we've collectively experienced as a nation, as people of color, refugees, immigrants or first generations and as humans
- I am also hopeful that we can move forward together from these defining times and support each other
Encouraging belonging as a community of allies
I am proud to work for a company that takes a stand against these senseless acts and supports associates from all backgrounds and experiences. For all of the anger and fear that you and I may feel today, let us channel that energy into awareness, change, and inclusion. If you are looking for ways to also get involved and support the community, here are a few of my suggestions:
- Report any Asian or Asian Pacific Islander hate incidents you witness here
- Share your story and educate those around you if you have faced racism in this way—elevating your voice and driving awareness is critical
- Donate to a racial justice cause in your community
- Volunteer to connect virtually with a senior, especially if you are bilingual and speak their native language, via Mon Ami and help them navigate the COVID-19 vaccine registration process (as I have done with my parents)
- Visit Read-A-Loud Recording and record yourself reading a children's book about empathy and equity so that a child might learn about these topics
- Find virtual diversity and inclusion events to attend through your job or community organizations
- Buy books on racial justice, Asian culture, or that elevate Asian voices and donate them to your local library
Committed to racial justice
Capital One strongly opposes racism and discrimination in any form, and unequivocally condemns all acts of hate and violence that threaten the safety of our associates and communities. Our company is standing in unity with Asian and Pacific Islander communities, working to promote inclusion and raising awareness in support of diverse communities.
Our associates are encouraged to become allies and participate in open dialogue on matters related to racial equity and belonging. We’re encouraged to be an “upstander” rather than a “bystander” by confronting racism when we see it. We are called on to lead from wherever we are at the company, regardless of title or seniority, and help to call out instances where bias may be present. Educating ourselves on current events and their impacts on communities can help us be more effective allies— when we’re aware of situations and diverse experiences surrounding it, we can be empowered to start conversations or inspire change.
I’m thrilled that Capital One joined with more than 100 companies in signing a pledge from the COVID-19 Action Agenda and supports Ascend Leadership—a nonprofit Pan-Asian organization for business professionals in North America—to promote inclusion, raise awareness, denounce bias, support communities and give donations to diverse communities, including Pan-Asians. Taking collective action is the only way we can #StopAsianHate.
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