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California's $200 million towards anti-Asian hate is unlike elsewhere in the nation. Photo: Jason Redmond/Getty Images

$200 million to combat Anti-Asian hate passes out of California’s legislature

A new budget plan is putting the state’s money where its mouth is in combating AAPI hate.

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On Monday, June 14, California legislators passed a $200 million budget plan with the objective of combating anti-Asian hate, an issue that is of pressing importance for the state. 

California has been experiencing some of the highest rates of anti-Asian hate crimes in the country. Between March 2020 and March 2021, Stop AAPI Hate has recorded 6,600 instances of anti-Asian hate, and 40% of them occurred in California. 

The API Equity Budget, which began as a proposal by the California Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (APILC) last month, will be completed over the next three years. 

“Racist rhetoric coming from the White House has mobilized and emboldened individuals who wish to sow hate against AAPIs by attacking them,” the APILC wrote.

San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting led the proposal as chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, calling it historic “because it’s really a flashpoint for our community to stand up and to ask to be seen, but also ask to be heard.” 

The budget is organized by short-term and long-term plans that seek to provide community support and services, violence prevention, and cultural and economic development for the community. 

More than half of the budget ($109.5 million) will be distributed to “Victims Services and Prevention,” which will fund nonprofits and other community-based organizations to offer free legal, physical and mental health care and compensation or counseling for victims of anti-Asian hate crimes. 

“Community groups need to assist all these folks who are petrified to leave their home, afraid of resuming their daily life,” Ting said. 

Other direct responses include the establishment of a statewide hate crimes hotline ($10 million) and the economic revitalization of ethnic enclaves, like Chinatowns and Koreatowns ($20 million.)

The funding will also ensure that AAPI students returning to school in the fall will be protected through the development of a “restorative justice pilot program,” accounting for another $10 million of the budget.

California will also be investing funds into higher education as well as peer support networks via social media, each receiving $5 million. 

In the long-term, the budget intends to increase language accessibility through a $10 million “California Interpreters Corp,” and it will improve hate crime tracking through a $10 million donation to Stop AAPI Hate. 

A final $10 million will be used to create an Office of Racial Equity to assist all communities of color. The office, modeled after those in cities like San Francisco, would work with state agencies to develop racial equity plans and identify areas for reform.

The APILC lauded their proposal as part of a massive $260 billion state budget, which can still be amended before September. Legislators are calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to keep the full budget. 

Manjusha Kulkarni, of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, is among community leaders who offered suggestions for proposal amendments. She recommended the focus be shifted from punishing perpetrators to holding mediation sessions to allow victims to explain the trauma they experienced directly to those perpetrators. 

“This raises the opportunity for healing and understanding, rather than what is more about restitution and/or retribution,” Kulkarni told NextShark.

Vincent Pan, co-director of Chinese for Affirmative Action San Francisco, took to Twitter on Monday, reporting that three months ago, Gov. Newsom asked what he could do to stop AAPI hate. 

Community leaders responded and told him to invest in the API community through initiatives such as those laid out in the API Equity Budget.

“His words, not mine, ‘I’m all in.’ There’s much to do. Let’s keep the promise and we all get to it,” Pan tweeted. 


 

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