Following the arrival of his new film Boogie, which features Pop Smoke’s debut and final acting role, Eddie Huang sat down with Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning to discuss the rise in anti-Asian hate crime in America amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He started off by talking about the Atlanta-area spa shootings that left eight dead, with four of the victims being Asian women. Expressing his horror at the violence, he reflected on how he’d never seen this much racism directed at Asians in America during his lifetime.
“I didn’t sleep last night because there was the shooting outside of Atlanta,” he said at around the two-minute point of the interview. “It really bugged me out, because while I’ve faced a lot of racism in my life, whether verbal or physical, [but] I don’t think I’ve witnessed anything like this in America. Our parents tell us, as immigrants coming to this country, just bow your head down, respect your elders, don’t rock the boat. … If we quiet and we keep our heads down, no one’s gonna bother us.”
While he gave props to immigrant parents who have helped their children thrive under the radar, he added, “as the second generation grows up in this country you start to realize it’s impossible to live here and not participate in the American experiment.” He urged Asian-Americans to “come out of our Chinatowns, come out of our Korea towns raise our hands stand up and say, ‘Yo we American, too.’ We deserve to be protected, and we need your help.”
He admitted that he’s faced racism as long as he’s lived, but it’s rarely been “this coordinated.” He highlighted just how many reported attacks against Asian-Americans have taken place in the last year, and he thinks that Donald Trump is at least partially responsible for this rise. Ultimately he believes it’s frustrated Americans looking for a “scapegoat,” and he thinks fake news has greatly contributed to it, also.
After the news of the horrific Atlanta-area spa shootings that left eight dead, Huang also shared a message on Instagram about the situation. He placed blame on Trump through his offensive coronavirus nicknames “China virus” and “kung-flu,” and once again urged Americans to stand up for Asian-Americans during this particularly hateful time in the country’s history.
Elsewhere in the chat, he once again heaped praise on the late Pop Smoke’s acting debut in his new film, Boogie. “Pop is hands down the most talented person I ever met, and I still think about him everyday,” he explained at 17:00. He said that Pop got involved with the film because one of his producers is close with Pop’s manager, Steven Victor. “From the jump, I just saw the energy and the star power in him,” he added.
“Any challenge I gave him, he never got scared, he never hesitated,” Huang continued. “He was like, ‘Aight big dog I’ma try that.’ … He would rather just jump in, make the mistake, come back talk to me and try it again. There was never fear if he messed up to get back up.” The morning he woke up to the news that Pop Smoke was fatally shot in Los Angeles, he said the last time he felt like that was the morning he learned Anthony Bourdain died. “Without even reading the texts, I just knew something bad happened,” he said. “I just went to the boxing gym and started hitting stuff.”
Watch the full interview above, and learn how to help curb the surge of anti-Asian violence here.