By Tiffany Chan

BOSTON, MA (CBS) – A crowd gathered on the Boston Common Sunday speaking out against recent anti-Asian hate crimes and calling for Asian studies in schools.

“The entire community is on edge. We’ve changed our routine,” said Dr. Hua Wang of the New England Chinese American Alliance. “We tell kids not to go out alone, to avoid dark areas, to avoid coming home at night. Our entire life is affected by this.”

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It’s a fear that’s trickled down to some of our youngest. At just 11-years-old, William Qin of Belmont is no stranger to racist remarks and dirty looks.

“For some reason, he just drove up next to me and called me an ‘idiot Asian kid,’” Qin told WBZ-TV. “I was hurt and I really didn’t understand why he would say that.”

Rally-goers plan to turn that hurt and confusion into action, and that starts in the classroom. They’re calling on schools to include Asian studies in the K-12 curriculum – hoping that education leads to understanding.

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“This is really – the Anti-Asian, discrimination, racism. It’s a part of American history. So it’s important to turn this moment into a momentum,” said Dr. Wang.

One mother from China felt empowered seeing people holding signs that read “Proud to be Asian” in a moment she shared with her young son.

“When we’re here, we’re really, really encouraged by how many people showed up,” said the Belmont mother.

Even in the wake of unimaginable violence, 11-year-old Qin is hopeful.

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“With this much people standing up, it can stop. Maybe it will stop I think,” he said.

Tiffany Chan