Leading AAPI Voices Shine Light on Discrimination and Violence
There has been an unnerving wave of violence against Asian Americans, and particularly seniors, in the wake of rampant
misinformation about COVID-19. While some attacks on seniors have attracted news attention, daily incidents of harassment and
intimidation continue in some of America’s biggest cities. With many seniors venturing out of their homes to shop for Lunar New Year,
this is an increased time of vulnerability for many in our communities.
NBC News ran a special report on the disturbing rise in violence and how authorities are responding. Investigative and Consumer
Correspondent Vicky Nguyen led the story and noted the massive increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans across the
country. In San Francisco, there have been several attacks in recent months, including one that killed 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee.
In New York City, the NYPD reported that they typically only receive 2-3 hate crime reports per year — but that it jumped to 27 last year
after COVID-19. On Tuesday, authorities announced the arrest of a suspect in three violent attacks in Oakland last month.
As Nguyen noted in her report, President Biden committed to taking strong action to stop harassment and violence against Asian
Americans during APIAVote’s 2020 Presidential Town Hall. This platform helped elevate the AAPI community’s concerns about the
already-rising levels of harassment last year. The AAPI Community is deeply grateful to Vicky for her timely and life-saving reporting.
Asian American leaders from across the country are also using their profiles to raise their voices to protect our communities and lead
the search for more information. Actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and civil rights activist
Amanda Nguyen appeared on MSNBC’s “American Voices” with Alicia Menendez on Sunday afternoon to raise public awareness of
these hate crimes.
Regionally groups around the country are mobilizing to share resources and best practices to stop the wave of anti-Asian
violence. Locally led by Chinese Affirmative Action, more than 40 Asian American and immigrant groups signed a letter demanding that
local San Francisco and Oakland authorities immediately increase culturally-relevant and trauma-informed investments that:
1.Ensure victims and survivors of all backgrounds and language abilities receive full supportive services so they can recover and heal.
2.Expand intervention- and prevention-based programs and invest in basic needs and community-based infrastructure that we know
will end the cycle of violence and keep all of us safer.
3.Resource cross-community education and healing in Asian American and Black communities that humanizes all of us rather than
demonizes or scapegoats any community of color.
The root causes of this violence are complex. Though racism is undoubtedly a contributing factor in some of the violence, many AAPIs
see a more comprehensive, multicultural approach as essential to stopping these incidents.
John C. Yang, president and CEO of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC, talked to NBC News about how we begin to address
this growing threat:
“We worry about over-criminalization of communities. ... We could develop community-based solutions — assistance for the victims,
assistance for the businesses that are damaged.” He encourages people who have been appalled by these attacks to reframe and
focus on the root causes rather than demonizing people or advocating for more policing. Cross-racial discussions are essential “to
address that fear in order to move forward together.”
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans sent out a press release featuring quotes from APIAVote and other members calling
on the Biden Administration, governors and local officials to continue working with on-the-ground AAPI community groups to protect
Asian Americans from this new wave of violence.
For those interested in supporting community efforts to protect elders and others against discrimination and violence, see below:
Donate to the Chinatown Ambassador Program
Get involved with the Oakland Chinatown Coalition or sign up for updates here
Follow the Coalition on Facebook and Instagram
Follow Stop AAPI Hate on Instagram
Stand Against Hatred, incident reporting center by Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Mental health and counseling resource for coping with anti-Asian racism and Covid-19, by Harvard University