As Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month draws to a close, the Stop AAPI Hate coalition is working to ensure a message of unity and support that extends beyond the month of May.
The organization formed as animosity toward the Asian community was rising during the pandemic, especially when elected officials like former President Donald Trump labeled COVID-19 as the "Chinese virus."
According to data from Stop AAPI Hate, from the start of the pandemic through December 2021, there were 10,905 attacks against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders nationally. Cities like New York were also dealing with an uptick in these crimes, recording more than 130 attacks in a single year.
Trish Villanueva (C) of Seattle holds a sign with the hashtag "stop AAPI hate" during the We Are Not Silent rally organized by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Coalition Against Hate and Bias in Bellevue, Washington on March 18, 2021. - The shooting rampage in Atlanta by a 21-year-old white man that left six women of Asian origin dead has laid bare the fears of an Asian-American community on edge over a spike in hate crimes because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)
In response, the city's police department created a task force dedicated to handling hate crimes against the Asian community. However, the organizers at Stop AAPI Hate do not believe broad change will come through more policing.
"We are not immune to reports of blatant racism in police department ranks and officers' connection to white nationalism," the Stop AAPI Hate coalition told Cheddar in reference to ongoing investigations of racism within the LAPD. "Coupled with the staunch anti-immigrant and anti-China rhetoric of the Trump administration, AAPIs can also be afraid to report crimes and compromise their immigration status or face profiling. This is part of why we need better solutions."
Members of the organization believe that implementing community-based solutions will provide a more favorable outcome. Some of those solutions include a push to integrate Asian-American studies into school systems nationwide. School districts in New Jersey, Illinois, and New York are already planning to update their curriculums starting in the fall.
People holding candles and anti-hate signs take part in a candlelight vigil in standing up against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate and violence, at Almansor Park in Alhambra, California, on March 20, 2021. AFP PHOTO / Ringo Chiu (Photo by RINGO CHIU / AFP) (Photo by RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)
Stop AAPI Hate is also looking for more monetary resources to be poured into the Asian community that can be used to create programs geared toward inclusion, among other goals. The AAPI community is large and diverse so securing funding for projects and community programs can be a mountain to climb.
"Communities with greater access to resources not only have lower crime, they may also be less likely to experience hate," the coalition claimed. "AAPI's also prefer investment in our community over investment in law enforcement, ranking community-based efforts, education and civil and human rights enforcement as the top three solutions for addressing hate."
Funding, while still extremely important, is just one piece of the puzzle that could help. For Stop AAPI Hate, creating policies to offset hate and discrimination is another effective way to extend protections for the Asian community.
"Even as our community grapples with fear and loss, it is just as important to us to honor the contributions and impact made by Asian Americans who are speaking up and taking action across the country to uplift our community and address anti-Asian hate and racism," the coalition told Cheddar. "We hope that this solidarity and support from various communities will help broaden our work and reinforce the idea that we are all united in a common goal – combating white supremacy and injustice in all its forms."