Hi everyone, hope you’re doing well. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and right now there is a lot of AAPI activism and community organizing going on, most of it related directly to the current crisis.
“This is a multi-layered crisis: a public health crisis, but also an economic and political crisis that is amplifying racism that was already present in society,” says Timmy Lu, executive director for AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund (AAPICE-EF) and AAPI-Force. The FBI reports that anti-Asian racial harassment and violence has surged since January. In a recent survey, 60% of Asian Americans and over one-third of all Americans now say they have personally witnessed an episode of anti-Asian racial harassment. Spurred by the complexities of this crisis and its growing impact on marginalized AAPIs and other groups, Asian American activists have rapidly responded with numerous campaigns that address the current climate of racial violence or provide aid for vulnerable populations.
A core initiative for Asian American organizers focuses on creating a record of how this pandemic has impacted AAPI individuals and groups. Many organizations have created online hate crime trackers—including the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council’s Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center and Asian American Advancing Justice-Los Angeles’ (AAAJ-LA) Stand Against Hatred website—to document the recent rise in anti-Asian violence. Federal hate crime data often fails to capture the full picture of racial violence that targets communities of color. Community-based tracking tools can provide an alternative for those who aren’t comfortable approaching law enforcement directly.
… Racism following a major disaster is, unfortunately, nothing new, says Dr. Vivian Shaw, a sociologist and postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University whose work focuses on disaster responses worldwide… Shaw is the lead researcher of the AAPI COVID-19 Project, a multidisciplinary team of scholars who have come together to document the impact of COVID-19 on AAPI communities. “Anti-Asian violence is a huge part of the story,” says Shaw. But, she adds, it is also just one aspect of how COVID-19 has affected the everyday lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The project plans to conduct detailed interviews over the next few years with hundreds of community members from diverse backgrounds to explore the complex impact of this disaster, particularly on vulnerable groups—such as undocumented immigrants and survivors of intimate partner violence—for whom racism and economic insecurity can exacerbate existing insecurities.
… AAPI groups have created a variety of mutual aid efforts to address the needs of marginalized AAPIs and other communities. Collectively, this response evokes the history of Asian American community organizing to build labor unions, fight gentrification, preserve low-income housing, protest police brutality, and provide care and resources for struggling residents of Asian American ethnic enclaves. Organizations within the AAPICE-EF network, for example, have developed outreach, language support, and care package donation programs for vulnerable Southeast Asian American and Pacific Islander community members. Outside of AAPICE-EF, other groups have organized initiatives including meal donation and emergency CSA programs to ensure continued food access during the COVID-19 crisis.
… For many Asian Americans, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a deeply politicizing experience that has helped reveal how structural inequities impact AAPIs alongside other communities of color. Community organizer Gregory Cendana saw this as an opportunity to build “an important intervention that not only centers the experiences of anti-Asian racism but that also builds cross-racial solidarity with other marginalized communities.” Earlier this year, Cendana partnered with organizer and DJ Kuttin Kandi to found the People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation, which is one of several groups to host digital town halls, bystander intervention trainings, and online panel discussions addressing issues raised by COVID-19 in the Asian American community.AAPI communities fight COVID-19 racism with mutual aid and coalition building (by Jenn Fang)
If you can, please help spread the word. Also consider checking out the online town halls of Rise: Asian Pacific America, going up throughout May each Friday at 8 PM EST (previous conversations are available on Youtube). If you are able, please consider donating to AAPIs for Civic Empowerment Education Fund, LTCC Community Feeding Community, or APIFM Emergency Community Supported Agriculture Program.
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