April 2, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
Two city council candidates in the 26th district are teaming up to host a community event in Sunnyside this weekend that will celebrate Asian Americans.
The event, called the Asian Solidarity: Community Celebration, will be hosted by candidates Steven Raga and Badrun Khan, along with with the New York Institute of Technology chapter of Delta Epsilon PSI, a national South Asian interest fraternity.
The celebration will take place on Saturday, April 3 at 1 p.m. at Bliss Plaza in Sunnyside, right below the 46th Street train stop on Queens Boulevard.
The event will feature cultural dances and performances.
“With the unacceptable increase of hate crimes these past few months, let’s actively stand together in solidarity and celebrate our heritage with pride,” Raga and Khan said in a joint statement.
“We advocate for inclusion that actively fights racism,” the pair said.
Raga, a Filipino-American, joked that his culture’s attire is best suited for tropical weather, but promised to wear a Barong Tagalog (a formal dress shirt made out of pineapple fibers) despite the projected high for Saturday being just 55 degrees.
“We will discuss the rise of Asian American hate and the need for unity in our community across Queens,” Raga told the Queens Post. “But we really wanted to make it a celebration, just to remind folks that there’s a lot we bring to the table.”
Raga and Khan, a Bengali-American, are among the many Asian American-Pacific Islanders running for the council seat, which is being vacated by the term-limited Jimmy Van Bramer, who is now a candidate for Queens borough president.
The others include Hailie Kim and Julie Won, who are both of Korean descent; Amit Bagga, who is an Indian-American; and Sultan Maruf, an immigrant from Bangladesh.
Won will also be holding an Asian solidarity event Saturday.
She and Lisa Helmi Johanson, who is with Interfaith Justice Queens, are co-organizing a collective healing space in front of the Long Island City Courthouse at 25-10 Court Square starting at 2 p.m. The event is in response to the violence and hate crimes targeting Asian-American New Yorkers.