Fresh Energy stands in solidarity with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Minnesota and the United States and condemns the wave of Anti-Asian racism, hate, and violence being perpetrated in our society.
As a committed, anti-racist organization Fresh Energy recognizes our responsibility to use our voice and speak out when our neighbors, peers, and teammates are being discriminated against, alienated, and attacked. Racism against people of Asian descent isn’t new, and we recognize it as a system that must be confronted and addressed.
Fresh Energy Executive Lead, Organizational Health Mat Larson Krisetya has experienced racism in multiple forms, and it has shaped how he works to co-create more equitable and humane systems at Fresh Energy and in the world. Here are two incidents that influenced him.
“I decided to ride my bicycle downtown to get a breath fresh of air. My room was suffocating, and I needed to clear my mind. I took out my bike and went for a ride. It was a sunny day and the wind on my face felt great as I approached downtown. Riding a bicycle is a constant exercise in honing one’s peripheral vision. Pedaling through the line of shops, I felt a pickup truck behind me, so I slowly made way for the truck so it could pass me. My heart began to drop as the truck kept coming closer and closer towards my bicycle. At that point, I knew the truck driver’s intention towards me was hostile. As I peered from the corner of my eye, the driver drove the truck’s front bumper really close to my back tire and I had to immediately veer straight on the sidewalk before getting hit. I rode on the sidewalk all the way back. As I recollect that incident, I rationalized that with the economic downturn many of the factories were bought or taken over by Japanese conglomerates. The driver probably did not have a good perception of the new owners, and perhaps he was laid off. I look like a Japanese person, but I am not Japanese. The year was 1990, in a college town, in northern Indiana.
It was another day in my college town where I walked to our local bank with my friend. He is Black. We walked together to pick up our checks from work. We arrived at the bank in anticipation of that much-needed cash. What seemed like a routine daily activity turned to be a bewildering and emotionally charged event. The teller refused to serve my friend, but the teller served me. He stood there not knowing what to do, and I did not know what to do either. We walked out the door together back to our dorms. It was racism in broad daylight, and I didn’t have the courage to confront the teller, much to my own dismay. The wave of anti-Asian violence is not about Asians, it’s about all of us and how we can continue to build stronger solidarity among BIPOC groups, and together co-create systems that are more humane.”
Fresh Energy envisions a just, prosperous, and resilient future—a future where all can thrive. This future is not possible if our communities are living in fear and if racism and white supremacy, sexism, and xenophobia are accepted or ignored. Last year, following the killing of George Floyd, Fresh Energy made an unequivocal commitment to address racism with intentionality and action, to never be neutral, and to never be silent.
We appreciate Mat’s willingness to share his stories, and we encourage you to show up and speak out in support of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and against racism in all its forms. For more information on what actions you can take to combat anti-Asian racism, we encourage you to read this page from the Coalition for Asian American Leaders.