‘See Us Unite’ Asian American TV special to highlight ‘diverse fabric of who we are’

The Asian American community is banding together Friday for a star-studded TV special to show unity amid ongoing violent, racist incidents throughout the U.S.

Platinum-selling performers of part-Asian descent, including R&B singer Jhené Aiko and rapper Saweetie, are set to perform during the TV special “See Us Unite for Change – The Asian American Foundation in service of the AAPI Community.” The Asian American Foundation, the newly formed organization launched to improve AAPI advocacy, produced the event which will air at 8 p.m. (both ET and PT) on channels including MTV, BET, VH1, Comedy Central as well as Facebook Watch.

Actor Ken Jeong will host the special, which will include appearances by Daniel Dae Kim and Lisa Ling and “will feature testimonials from leading Asian American public figures, as well as individuals working to enact change on the ground,” organizers said.

“We’re excited about the show because we’re going to highlight the beautiful stories of the diverse fabric of who we are … It also includes packages of educating and including the history of how we contributed to this country, as well as the hurt and the pain and the tragedy that we’ve felt for awhile of being discriminated (against),” Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder of Care.com and a board member of TAAF, says.

Actor Ken Jeong will host the TV special "See Us Unite for Change – The Asian American Foundation in service of the AAPI Community." (Photo: Rich Fury, Getty Images)

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The TV special coincides with TAAF’s multi-platform See Us Unite campaign, which launched earlier this month and is designed to expand support for the AAPI community.

“We felt that it was really important that the Asian American Foundation launch a broad awareness campaign that was really focused around solidarity, and a message around unity for our community and our allies, as well as education,” Lirio Marcelo, an executive producer of the special, says.

One such point: debunking the model minority myth about Asian Americans. “The problem around the model minority myth is the assumption that all of us don’t need help, when the reality is a majority do because we are a minority group with a high degree of inequality that’s happening.”

One of the goals of the show and the overall campaign is to invite others to own the phrase “see us” and apply it to their own life. Tennis player Naomi Osaka, for example, has claimed “see us defy expectation,” while basketball player Jeremy Lin claimed “see us make history” and actor Daniel Dae Kim claimed “see us create change.”

More than 6,600 hate incidents have been reported in the year after the pandemic began in the United States, Stop AAPI Hate announced several weeks ago. More than a third of those incidents were reported this March alone, according to the organization founded last year in response to increased targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the pandemic.

“It’s critical to send a message that we can come together with strength and with solidarity,” Lirio Marcelo says.

Contributing: N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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