Saturday Night Live’s first Chinese-American cast member, Bowen Yang, deftly underlined how supportive social media posts just don’t cut it in combating a wave of anti-Asian attacks.
Many well-meaning people have shared posts seeking dialogue, conversation and understanding to stem the tide of anti-Asian attacks - but Yang said: “If someone’s personality is ‘punch an Asian grandma,’ it’s not a dialogue. I have an Asian grandma. You want to punch her. There ain’t no common ground, mama.”
He urged people to ‘do more’, using the example of someone boasting of tipping their manicurist well as an example of falling short: “Let me know when you get on your knees and scrub her feet while she looks at your phone. Do more.”
During the segment, Yang introduced the Mandarin cheer “jiayou,” which translate to “fuel up,” a mantra Yang says has been helpful to him during the past few weeks.
“I don’t know what’s helpful to say to everyone, but that’s what I say to myself,” Yang said. “Fuel up. Do more. It’s the Year of the Metal Ox, which basically means a car. So everyone get in, buckle up, it’s no pee breaks. We ride at dawn, grandmas!”
Crimes targeting Asian Americans have risen sharply since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans, says there has been close to 4,000 incidents in the past year.
“Look, I’m just a comedian, I don’t have the answers. But I’m not just looking for them online, I’m looking around me,” Yang said. “The GoFundMe for Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought back against her attacker, raised $900,000, which she immediately gave back to the community,” he added.
“That’s where we are as Asians. Come meet us there.”
Yang has written for SNL since 2018, before being promoted to the on-air cast in 2019 for season 45.