Black Lives Matter: Taipei Solidarity Rally

Isabel Wang carrying a self-made sign at the Black Lives Matter Solidarity Rally in Taipei, Taiwan on June 13th. Photo courtesy of Isabel Wang.

My name is Isabel Wang and I grew up in Taiwan. I came to Seattle last September to pursue my Master’s of Communication in Communities and Networks in UW’s Communication Leadership program. As I was new to UW, FIUTS became a great portal through which to explore campus resources, meet friends from around the world, learn about American culture, and participate in a wealth of events held on and off campus.

After a month at UW, I started an eight-month advocacy journalism fellowship program with the International Examiner, a local Seattle-based newspaper. The program’s goal was to find the missing voices in the Asian Pacific Islander group. One of the focus communities was the Taiwanese community. Taiwan’s population is for all intents and purposes solely ethnically Chinese, and thus an extremely homogenous society. There are seldom discussions around racism or ethnocentrism. However, in Seattle, I am now in the minority. One of the main goals of the fellowship program is to promote and support advocacy for the voiceless, people who are silenced in minority groups. This advocacy has become an integral exercise for me to fully understand the culturally diverse U.S. society.

In response to COVID-19, UW has moved classes online. I came back to Taiwan in the middle of my studies in March. A few months later, George Floyd’s murder sprouted nationwide protests. The voices that rang with rage and despair soon spread to the rest of the world. I followed this news closely from Taiwan. organized a Black Lives Matter Solidarity Rally at 228 Peace Memorial Park in Taipei on June 13th. I could not miss this event. The experience of standing at the frontline with others made me realize that advocacy can be a powerful tool.

A photo of the Black Lives Matter Solidarity Rally in Taipei. Photo courtesy of Isabel Wang.

James, from Taiwan, was one of the many participants at the rally. He told me how “pleasantly surprised” he was that many people showed up, and there was “a good mix of black people, Caucasians and Asians.” He added that the speeches and presentations at the rally were “on point and drove home the message that black lives matter,” and that, “the various musical performances added flair and helped keep the energy high.”

You might be wondering if racism exists in Taiwan. The answer is yes. In recent years, the island nation is gradually transforming into a multicultural society for many reasons, including an increase in Southeast Asian migrants. Many seek work in the manufacturing industry and as domestic caregivers. They have long been discriminated against and exploited in Taiwan. Another group that has been historically marginalized is Taiwan’s indigenous people.

Many protestors brought handmade signs to the solidarity rally. Photo courtesy of Isabel Wang.

Just talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion is not enough, concrete actions are needed. Therefore, I was delighted to see that the organizers invited the indigenous people of Taiwan to go on stage and share their stories. James agrees and said, “having other underrepresented groups, such as the local indigenous people, speak about the hardships they suffered as a minority group was a nice inclusion.” Hopefully, this will help Taiwanese people better associate with how the black population in the US is being unfairly treated; racism and prejudice are not restricted to particular groups and the Black Lives Matter movement intersects with many other injustices in our world.

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Isabel Wang

I love everything about content creation and brand storytelling.