Jingjing Xu ’22 was already working on an editorial for The Quill about the experience of Asian women when she heard the news that six Asian women were killed outside of Atlanta in a series of mass shootings. Four days later she traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in a Stop Asian Hate protest in McPherson Square and delivered a speech that would be seen around the world thanks to a report by the global news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP)
A family friend who owns a Chinese restaurant organized a group of people to go together from Baltimore, and asked Jingjing to prepare a speech ahead of time just in case they were able to access a microphone. Jingjing had been working on her editorial for The Quill, but says she had hit a mental block, “I had been sitting with this for a while, I had so many thoughts… I was working on an editorial about how Asian women are at the intersection of racism and misogyny, but I was a little bit blocked,” she shared, “but my mom told me about the protest and I sat down to prepare a speech and I wrote it in under an hour.”
The demonstration in D.C. was Jingjing’s first protest, and with a large number of people in attendance, she was hesitant to speak. “At first I was apprehensive,” she said, “I didn’t know if it was my place to go up and speak and the organizers said they were running out of time.” But then Jingjing was approached by a reporter from Agence France Presse, an international news organization. As Jingjing was interviewed, she started saying some of the things she had written. “And I thought, maybe I am ready for this. So I pushed my way to one of the organizers and he gave me the microphone,” she recalled.
While her speech was the first time Jingjing’s activism has taken a national stage, she has been involved in CAFE and ASU at Bryn Mawr for years. One of CAFE’s initiatives this year is a series of Pop Up P4X sessions or Period 4 Experiences. These P4X are a chance for students to engage in challenging conversations that for some members of the community are largely viewed as optional. Jingjing wants allies to know that “for minority groups, these uncomfortable conversations are what keeps us heard and are a time for us to share our experiences. And that discomfort is the only way you can be productive and make change.”
One thing she stressed when talking about activism and allies, was an ally’s ability to use their privilege to help. “The show of allyship is so important. The idea of privilege, everyone has a different amount, in different ways. And that’s not something you can change, but what you can change is what you do with your privilege. And that’s what really matters,” Jingjing said.
Although she says it is hard to put her emotions into words, Jingjing knows that she feels both sad and powerful after attending the protest. She is planning on staying active both in the Bryn Mawr community and beyond.