• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Celebrities Continue Fight For Change Amid Rise In Attacks Against Asian Americans

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In the past year, nearly 4,000 Asian hate crime incidents were reported nationwide. CBS2's Cindy Hsu reports.

Video Transcript

- This past year, we've seen an alarming rise in attacks against Asian-American.

- And as more people offer support for this very diverse community, we are hearing from two high profile celebrities who have been fighting, for decades, for change, and also, more understanding. CBS 2's Cindy Shu has their stories.

CINDY SHU: In the last year, nearly 4,000 Asian hate incidents have been reported nationwide, but there's a long history of anti-Asian violence in the US. I spoke to Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang, who was stabbed in the neck in Brooklyn five years ago, walking home from the grocery store.

DAVID HENRY HWANG: It turned out that the attacker had severed my vertebral artery, I'd lost about 1/3 of my blood, but I was out of the hospital in three or four days. So I was a lot more fortunate than many attack victims.

CINDY SHU: The attacker was never caught.

Do you believe this was a hate crime?

DAVID HENRY HWANG: I do, and I think I've come to feel more comfortable with saying that over the years. At the time that it happened, the NYPD didn't classify it as a hate crime.

CINDY SHU: The attack was the genesis of Hwang's latest musical, Soft Power, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize as were two other works, Yellow Face and M. Butterfly. He has spent 40 years writing plays, largely, about Asian-American stories. He believes political rhetoric unleashed the violence we're seeing now.

DAVID HENRY HWANG: A lot of this was exacerbated by the former president, who use terms, like China virus and kung flu.

CINDY SHU: Actor George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, felt the target on his back at five years old right after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. He was born and raised in California, but was rounded up with more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry, then thrown into internment camps.

GEORGE TAKEI: Soldiers came up, stomped up the front porch with their fists, banged on the door, and literally, at gunpoint with bayonets on them, they ordered us out of our home.

CINDY SHU: Takei says, the experience turned him into an activist. He starred in the Broadway musical Allegiance inspired by Takei's personal stories, while in the internment camp. He recently published the graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, which received an American Book Award last year. But he points to the iconic series Star Trek, which started in 1966, as a show we could learn from now, especially looking back at the themes of inclusion and acceptance it celebrated more than 50 years ago.

GEORGE TAKEI: The acronym was IDIC, I-D-I-C, infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

CINDY SHU: Something we need more of today. Cindy Shu, CBS 2 News.