Stopping Anti-Asian Hate With a Comic Strip — and a Cat

Artist MariNaomi’s mural inspires in Southern California

Jennifer Chen
Published in
7 min readJun 18, 2021

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Photo courtesy of TaskForce

When I first heard about MariNaomi’s comic mural last month, I knew I had to take my five-year-old twin daughters to see it.

An award-winning author and illustrator, MariNaomi installed a Stop AAPI Hate mural in Garvey Park in Rosemead, a city in Southern California. The 60-by10-foot mural, unveiled on May 28, covers the side of a recreational park building and will remain there for the next few months.

My daughters love art and comic books. But more importantly, MariNaomi captured in six panels what I have struggled to tell my daughters about the racist attacks against Asian Americans. It’s not easy to discuss, but I’ve never wanted to shield my kids from current events. As a Taiwanese American freelance journalist, I spent most of 2020 covering the anti-Asian racist attacks. During the day, I’d talk to experts about the current statistics and read about the brutal assaults. At night, I’d talk to my daughters about people “being rough to grandmas and grandpas because they are Asian.” They asked me why. My answer: Some people blame us for “the sickness” (what my kids call Covid-19).

Photo: Jolene Siana

On a recent weekend, my husband and I stood in front of this massive piece with our daughters. We read each panel aloud. My daughters asked thoughtful questions.

MariNaomi, whose comics and paintings have been displayed at the Smithsonian, the Cartoon Art Museum, and the Asian Art Museum, deftly takes the viewer through her point of view. In the first panel, MariNaomi is in her home, scrolling on her phone, saying to her cat, “Ugh. How could they stand there and watch while that lady got attacked?” Panel by panel, MariNaomi’s comic doppelgänger comments on the rising numbers of racist incidents (6,603 as of March 31, 2021), the history of scapegoating Asians in America, the heroes she admires, and what we all can do next. MariNaomi’s art gave us a chance to discuss the racism against Asian Americans, our cultural history, and how we can help ourselves and others with our children. The comic…

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Jennifer Chen
#StopAsianHate

Freelance journalist. YA author. Professional cute animal admirer.