These last 12 months have been extremely difficult. COVID 19 has terrorized the entire world, leaving millions of fatalities in its tracks. But what’s as equally devastating is the disease of racism that plagues this country. Attacks against Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have been on the rise since March 2020. In fact, this study reports that hate crimes against Asian Americans are up 149%. One Hundred and Forty Nine Percent! On Tuesday, March 16th, there was a mass shooting in Atlanta resulting in 8 dead, 6 of whom were Asian American. The target of these recent acts of violence has been mainly the elderly and women, the most vulnerable in the community. It’s tragic and sad, and it needs to end. So here are some ways that we can help support the AAPI community and maybe start the process of healing in this nation. We all have a part to play.
This is something that is said over and over about ending racism, and remains true about helping the AAPI community. Educate yourself on the contributions that Asian Americas have made to this country. This Forbes article highlights the many Chinese workers who helped build one of the biggest American assets, and how quickly thereafter they were turned against and had to suffer severe racism and brutality. I know that it is uncomfortable to learn about the terrible things that were done to any community for something as trivial as where they were born or how they look, but please do not turn a blind eye. It’s not enough to not be racist, one has to become anti racist and actively work to tear down the systems that are set in place to marginalize and suppress others.
It also wouldn’t hurt to understand the diaspora of the people that make up the AAPI community. Asia is a continent made of many different countries, languages, and cultures. To assume that everyone who has certain physical features is Chinese or “just Asian” is extremely insensitive. There are 48 countries in Asia, and many countries have multiple languages and cultures. I’m not saying that you have to know all of them, but be aware.
Understanding that there are many different cultures and languages is only the beginning, what is also important is understanding, accepting, and embracing the fact that Asian Americans are Americans. There are countless stories of fellow Americans asking their AAPI comrades “What is your nationality”, or “where are you from?” and when they respond by telling them that they are American, those asking the question are not satisfied with the answer, probing farther into their ancestry. The fact is whether they immigrated or were born in America, America, the land of the free and home of the brave, is where they call home, where they pledge their allegiance, and pay their taxes. One of the things that makes America so beautiful is the many cultures that make up this country. I smile every time I watch the Olympics and see different people of all backgrounds proudly parading the American flag.
If you see something, say something
There are a number of sites where you can report a hate crime. A group of about 50,000 Asian American Pacific Island judges, lawyers, law professors, and law students make up The Nationals Asian Pacific Bar Association (NAPABA). NAPABA has carefully created a list of resources which includes an explanation of the differences between a hate crime and hate biases and details ways to report hate crimes to law enforcement. They also organized a Hate Crimes Task Force that offers free legal resources to victims.
You can also report hate crimes to local organizations like Stop the Hate that seeks to collect and report data on hate crimes so that there can be policies put in place to protect AAPI communities. Did you know that there are some states in America that do not have hate crime laws? And, as this CNN article reports, a lot of the states’ hate crime laws vary. Many states do not collect data which is crucial in showing state officials which communities are most at risk and how to allocate funds to help those communities.
The good news is that there are already organizations that are doing the work in helping AAPI communities, and all you have to do is donate to help them continue their mission.
Stop the AAPI Hate
“In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center on March 19, 2020. The center tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
Our approach recognizes that in order to effectively address anti-Asian racism we must work to end all forms of structural racism leveled at Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.”
The Asian Relief Defense and Education Fund
As their website states, “AALDEF focuses on critical issues affecting Asian Americans, including immigrant rights, voting rights and democracy, economic justice for workers, educational equity, housing and environmental justice, and the elimination of anti-Asian violence, police misconduct, and human trafficking.”
Asian American Advancing Justice
AAJC’s mission is to “ advance the civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Advancing Justice | AAJC is a national 501 (c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1991 in Washington, D.C.”
Hate is a Virus
Hate is a Virus started as a GoFundme Campaign in March 2020, but has since grown into a nonprofit organization whose goal is “ to amplify, educate and activate AAPI to stand for justice and equality in solidarity with other communities. We do this by mobilizing our community to participate in local and national awareness campaigns, creating space for dialogue and education, and providing actionable steps and funding in partnership with trusted community leaders.”
Use your platform
Social media can be a powerful tool to promote messages of hope, love, and support. Use your platform to spread awareness and support the Asian American Pacific Island communities.
“It’s not an Asian issue, it’s a human issue.”
-Daniel Dae Kim
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