In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are highlighting everyday people who are doing what they can to support the AAPI community. We, at Slide 32, saw so much good being done within our own communities, so we asked some of our friends about the work they are doing to combat anti-Asian hate crimes as proud Asian Americans. It only takes one person to take action and make a difference, so join us in applauding the good work that's being done.
In this blog, meet Dan Whan, founder of Self Defense Against Hate, a self defense resources for the elder AAPI community.
What’s your full name?
What’s your day job?
Legaltech startup, toddler wrangler.
What inspired you to start developing Self Defense Against Hate?
It was a confluence of factors: my jiu jitsu training, community/personal connections, and if I'm being entirely honest, crushing guilt. I was born in Georgia and the Atlanta shootings at Asian-owned spas were a big wakeup call, but I was angry and frustrated at myself for not acting sooner. From there I feverishly threw myself into researching how I could help. I was pleasantly surprised numerous efforts were underway - neighborhood patrols, chaperoned walks, errand assistance, etc. - but violent assaults kept happening and especially to the most vulnerable in our communities (women/seniors). A famous Chinese proverb and common childhood admonition from my mom kept playing in my head: 不怕一万，就怕万一. Paraphrasing, it's a warning to always be prepared. Recognizing these attacks were inevitable, I decided to focus on equipping seniors for the worst case scenario.
What do you hope to achieve or see by creating these resources?
To equip seniors for the worst case scenario and in situations where an attack is unavoidable, preserve life.
Who/what organization are you supporting through this initiative? What do they do? Because we're SF-based, we decided to initially focus on local community building organizations plugged into the AAPI community, especially those serving the elderly. The list is growing but at the moment we're supporting:
Onlok - medical/nursing service provider to the elderly
Chinatown Community Development Center - housing advocacy organization for low-income residents in Chinatown
Self Help for the Elderly - hospice, health, and home care for seniors
Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce - trade organization promoting/supporting Chinatown businesses in Oakland
Korean Community Center of the East Bay - immigrant and refugee support organization
Oakland Asian Cultural Center - organization building community through Asian culture & arts
We've also lined up warm intros to Institute on Aging and NICOS Chinese Health Coalition but as we develop and refine our resources, we hope to be of help to communities in other geographies as well.
What’s the biggest unexpected positive thing you've seen since starting this project (I know it's still early days)?
The eagerness of these organizations to be involved and help. I was expecting skepticism and a tough sell but most have welcomed our efforts with open arms. Granted this is all against the backdrop of civic activism and social justice movements reaching an inflection point in 2020, but it's still refreshing to see the Asian community mobilize.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to for helping you get up and running?
Romulo Melo, Jake Richards, Joel Navarette, G.E. Szeto, Blake/Grace of Slide32. Thanks to all for your generosity and heart. By the way I want to highlight, half the people on this list aren't Asian and I appreciate the allyship. Which perfectly leads into the next question...
If you had something to tell the non-Asian community about the AAPI community, what would you say?
Love your neighbor as yourself. Seemingly straight forward but when people can truly internalize, embody, and fulfill that statement, I believe it leads to profound and transformative outcomes.
Now for some fun questions:
Who is your favorite AAPI celebrity and why?
Ronny Chieng, he trains jiu-jitsu and he's hilarious.
What's your favorite Asian (inspired) food or snack?
Not quite "Asian" but fried chicken is my favorite (all types I don't discriminate). I grew up in Georgia and fried chicken was a treat reserved for special occasions. Also little known fact, KFC is the largest fast food chain in China because Chinese people lose their minds over fried chicken.
Follow @selfdefenseagainsthate on Instagram for more info.