An assistant professor at Hope College in Holland is using his talent and his platform to raise awareness to stop Asian hate.
Dr. Jordan VanHemert released his debut album last month titled, "I am not a Virus."
Now the accomplished saxophonist and composer is going one step further by hosting a Facebook live concert to raise money for an organization fighting racism and amplifying the voices of Asian women.
Just one look at the cover of his debut album and you know Dr. Jordan VanHemert wants to communicate a strong message with his music.
"It's called, 'I am not a virus.'" He's tackling Asian hate head on.
"I don't think there were a lot of things people were aware of in terms of what COVID racism actually meant. And the fact that racism against Asian Americans is not a new thing, starting with the Naturalization Act and the Chinese Exclusion Act, there is a history of racism in this country. The album hopefully will point to those things as well as our current situation," explained Dr. VanHemert.
Just four days after the release of his album, this happened: "On March 16, as part of an escalation of anti-Asian violence in this country, 8 people were tragically murdered in a targeted attack near Atlanta. Six of those people were Asian women and this concert is a reaction to that event," he said.
Thursday night at 7 p.m., the Hope College assistant professor will pick up his sax and play to make a difference.
"I mentor 8 young leaders, who are young Asian women, and in my role as the faculty advisor to the Asian Student Union, it was really big for me to be able to say, 'I see you, I value you, I hear you, and I want to support organizations who are going to lift up your voice.' So I've chosen to support the national Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and all the proceeds will be going to them.
"I believe music is narrative, it tells a story. It's incredibly important to me to amplify Asian American stories."
He also wants to dismantle stereotypes.
"Asian Americans, we often have this thing called the perpetual foreigner syndrome," Dr. VanHemert said. "No matter how long we've been here, no matter how many degrees or how many accolades we have in our name, we are often seen as foreigners. My message is, we belong here and we are here to stay."
The album "I am not a Virus" is available anywhere you can stream music. The concert, "We are not a Virus" is Thursday at 7 p.m. on Facebook live, click here for the link.
Dr. VanHemert was hoping to raise $3,000 for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. He has already blown that out of the water, raising more than $4,000 so far.
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