The Afro-Colombian journalist speaks to People en Español about the recent wave of violent attacks against the AAPI community in the United States.

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Ilia Calderón is raising her voice against the recent wave of violence and discrimination impacting the Asian community in the United States. The Afro-Colombian journalist is married to physiotherapist Eugene Jang, of Korean descent, and spoke to People en Español exclusively about how these events have affected her family. According to StopAAPIHate.Org, there have been 3,795 incidents of discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between February 2020 and March 2021.

This has deeply impacted her own family. "The truth is that racism in all its forms affects us and it's something we totally reject as a multiracial and diverse family, and as members of a society that still doesn't recognize that racism has been part of our daily lives," she says. "Eugene was mocked because of the shape of his eyes, but that's something he will talk about when he's ready to share this experience," she adds about her husband.

They talk openly to their daughter Anna about racism and current news. "She is already eight and not four years old, like she was when she was called 'black face.' Anna has always felt proud of her Afro-Asian origin and her Hispanic and Korean ethnicities, and she knows she is privileged to be able to grow up in a family like ours," Ilia says. "She understands perfectly that the person who discriminates is the one who is wrong and that's a behavior that is not acceptable. Of course we are scared for her grandparents in the midst of this wave of attacks against older Asian people."

Calderón also shared the following video on Instagram, condemning the wave of hate crimes against the AAPI community in the U.S.

It saddens and disappoints her to read some comments on social media. "It's painful to read the comments of certain members of our Hispanic community who raise their voices when the Hispanic community is a victim of attacks and racial crimes, but fail to recognize the racism that other groups face, arguing theories like, 'That has always been like that,' 'Racism has always existed,' 'That's life and they have to teach their kids to be strong,' 'Racism is in their minds,' and 'They discriminate themselves,'" she says. "These comments are a living example of the need for empathy."

Ilia Calderon (DO NOT REUSE)
Credit: @beligoyproductions para People en Español

There is still a lot to learn. "One of the biggest virtues, but also one of the most difficult things, is for us to be able to put ourselves in others' shoes," she shares. "These people are judging from the privileged position of someone who has never faced racism."

"We must educate ourselves, recognize racism and reject it," she says. "We must listen to other people's experiences and respect them and know that their stories matter, too."