City of Cleveland Long-Term Community Relations Board Member, Gia Hoa Ryan, Shares Remarks on ‘Stop the Asian Hate’ Rally

On March 28, hundreds of Cleveland residents attended a ‘Stop the Asian Hate’ rally in downtown Cleveland in support of the Asian and Asian-American community. The City of Cleveland has a thriving Asian-American community comprised of men and women who strive to make Cleveland a great place to live, work, play and do businesses. We stand in solidarity with our Asian-American community and continue our efforts to make Cleveland a welcoming and inclusive city for all its residents.

Below are remarks from City of Cleveland’s long-term Community Relations Board member and Executive Director and Founder of Friendship Foundation of American-Vietnamese, Gia Hoa Ryan:

My name is Gia Hoa Ryan.    I am from Viet Nam.  For many years I am a member of the Cleveland Mayor’s Community Relations Board.

I came from Viet Nam in 1971, almost fifty years ago; and then finally  my family and I settled in the Cleveland area.

I like many others of Asian background have suffered discrimination, prejudice, and insults  from others, including Asian and non-Asian.

I remember  one woman who was at the grocery store where I first shopped when I came here.  She would shout at me “Gook” or “Chink” as I entered the store.

She did this several times on the occasions when  I passed her by.  Finally, I stopped and went  over to her.  I said,  “I do not know what is your problem.  Every time I come by here walking with my daughter, you shout at  us.  You might have lost some one over in Vietnam.  I am so sorry.  I myself lost  many there.  So I understand  a little of your  pain.  I know many Americans die for us.  I want to thank all of you.  If it was not for all of you, I would not be here.   So thank you.”

The woman began crying.  “I am sorry,” she said. I was glad that I opened up to her and tried to be kind.

So this  is my first recommendation for people.  Kindness and friendship is our rule.  With these  we can win all over, including those who hate and do evil.

Second, I have encountered many Asian groups  in my years in Cleveland.  In Cleveland alone based on my work  on the Mayor’s Community Relations Board we have over 20 and we have another 130 ethnic groups.  Sometimes we quarrel among ourselves.  But we always must remember, we are all people who must work together.  That means all of us Asians must work together.  That also means all groups in America must assist one another.  We are a better and a stronger people when we help each other.

When I was here in the 1980’s I got women together in An Asian Women’s Organization.  We shared stories.  We discussed  what we might have suffered from discrimination.  We also helped each other.  I would tell them, “Get out.  Do not stay all the time in your house.  Become part of this country.”

Third, look at our Vice President  Kamela   Harris.  Her mother is from India.  VP Harris is always proud of her Asian heritage.  So we should always be proud.  We bring so much to America when we share our history and customs with everyone.  We also gain from others and come to appreciate  their cultures and heritages.

Fourth,  I always remember what I learned from my Father.  He said  we may have different skin colors.  But when we accidentally cut our hand, our blood  is always red.  It is all the same color for all of us. So deep down we always should  remember that lesson from my father.

Fifth, I want to congratulate Lisa Wong, Johnny Wu, and all the others who  planned and conducted such an inspiring Peace Rally yesterday on Sunday.  I would like to list you all and thank you individually.   You brought all of us together in Peace and Friendship.  This was a great day for our City, our Asian community, and all our people.

 Again thank you to everyone for coming yesterday.  Please let us always work together in the future.  The Atlanta killings are terrible.  We must remember all those eight people and pray that “an Atlanta”  never happens again. We must pray that Boulder never happens again. Pray for all those people as well.

“Com on nhieu lam.”  “Thank you all very much.”

The above statement is presented as it was originally issued.