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Omaha artist combats Asian hate one T-shirt at a time

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans has been an issue forever, but as the coronavirus took over our lives, those crimes increased dramatically.

Lindsey Yoneda, a local artist and member of the Asian American community, is using her talents to share her heritage and raise money for organizations that combat Asian hate.

Yoneda’s personal experiences with racism and ignorant comments combined with the increase in hate crimes is what prompted her to start the project. She describes racism toward the Asian American Community as “more subtle.”

“Racism towards Asians has been very under the radar, for most of my life anyway, from what I’ve experienced. It’s always been there but it’s never been talked about, it’s never been on the front of peoples minds,” she says.

According to a study done by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, hate crimes against Asians in America’s largest cities increased 149% from March 2020 to March 2021.

Yoneda created a T-shirt design, and with the help of the print shop she works at, is selling them and donating a portion of the proceeds to Stop AAPI Hate, which seeks to combat, track and help respond to hate crimes against Asians.

On the front of her shirt is a phrase from a Japanese proverb that is close to her heart. It translates to “fall seven times, get up eight.” The phrase is even tattooed on her father’s arm.

On the back is beautifully vibrant flowers surrounding Daruma dolls, which is a traditional Japanese doll which has become a symbol of perseverance and luck. Yoneda says they’re associated with the ‘fall seven times, get up eight’ phrase.

They are also wish dolls, Yoneda says. In Japanese tradition, the doll has no eyes until a wish is made. Once a wish is made, the doll has one eye. After the wish is granted, the doll has both eyes.

“I thought it would be a really good chance for me to share my culture I guess, and share a really important cause to me.”

For every shirt she sells, 40% of the profits will go to Stop AAPI Hate, which is based in San Francisco, California and spearheaded by the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University.

“When I first made this design, I texted a couple friends and was like ‘hey do you think I could sell at least 50? Cause I need to sell at least 50 to make these and they’re like yeah you should be fine!’ and now I’ve sold almost 400, which is crazy!”

400 shirts means more than $3,500 dollars will go to the anti-racism group. Support from the community, friends and family has been overwhelming in the best way, Yoneda says and knowing that her design and culture are reaching a larger audience, and for a good cause, is ‘crazy’ she says.

And while there are conversations and potential legislation in the works to combat hate against Asians, Yoneda says there’s plenty more to do.

“I think it’s important to remember that while the conversation about hate crimes against Asians is happening right now, there’s still a lot of work to do not just in this community but in so many other communities.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate was set to vote on a bill that would combat hate crimes against Asians. If it passes, the bill would appoint someone to review the crimes and work with local law enforcement agencies to provide them resources to better report and respond to these crimes.

More information about the T-shirts can be found on Yoneda’s Instagram.

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