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“It Takes One Person”: Sarah Gilpin on progressing past hate

Sarah Gilpin keeps her promises. A recent keynote speaker at the #stopasianhate rally in Tulsa, Sarah’s committed to shaping the city into a progressive Midwest hotspot where all people feel included. 

It’s a sentiment she didn’t always feel personally, growing up an Asian-American young woman in rural Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Encouraged to pursue an education by her single mother, Sarah was bullied in school during her younger years. And it often went ignored by teachers. 

Now she wants to support and advocate for others who face oppression in Tulsa. In an interview with the Black Wall St. Times, Sarah became emotional while describing a campaign stop during her husband Tim Gilpin’s 2018 run for Congress. “I spoke to a man from north Tulsa, and when I was leaving, he asked, ‘will you come back?’ It was clear to me that many people had let him down in the past.”

The moment reminded Sarah that all the citizens in Tulsa need advocates and support.

Determined to create meaningful change

Sarah raised others’ emotions at the #stopasianhate rally in Tulsa on March 26, where she spoke eloquently about her experiences. “Asian-American women are not exotic, we are not geishas, we are not China dolls,” she told the crowd of hundreds at the Center of the Universe in Tulsa. She also broke down stereotypes and prejudice. “We are women,” she continued. “We are the past, we are the present, and we are the future of America.” 

Following the slaying of 8 Asian-American women, law enforcement’s response that the killer was “having a bad day” shocked Sarah. She noted that crimes against Asian-Americans have risen 150% since Covid first appeared in the United States. Twice-impeached former President Trump took opportunities to refer to Covid as the “Chinese virus,” and “Kung Flu” during press conferences. It empowered those who were looking for a target to blame for the pandemic. 

Yet she believes with the Biden administration, “We are turning a corner.” She also believes that Tulsa is moving toward positive changes for citizens from marginalized communities. “The Black Lives Matter movement has brought out allies and people in Tulsa who recognize oppression and prejudice,” she said during the interview. “It takes just one person to change the direction of the stream.” 

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