Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images
The fight against AAPI hate is getting some serious backers. But will it yield results. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

The fight against AAPI hate is a long one, but it’s starting to see some money and corporate support

The Asian American Foundation recently launched a $250 million initiative to better meet the needs Asian-Americans across the U.S. 


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Anti-Asian sentiments are not a novel phenomenon in the United States, but of late, discrimination, harassment and violence against Asian-Americans has been steadily increasing at an alarming rate since the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The online self-reporting tool provided by the organization Stop AAPI Hate, has received 3,795 incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

The popular Asian-American news source NextShark, as well as journalists such as CeFaan Kim and Dion Lim have also diligently kept up with reporting on these crimes and the stories are incredibly difficult to consume.

A new compilation of hate crime data has revealed that the increase in anti-Asian attacks is not slowing down. The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, compared data from the first quarter of 2021 to the same time period in 2020 across 15 major cities.

Their research shows that hate crimes have surged by 169%, a clear continuation of the “historic” spike in such attacks that began last year. Much of these attacks have occurred in New York City, where Asian-American and Pacific Islanders make up roughly 14% of the population.

The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force recorded 80 hate crimes against Asians in 2021 from Jan. 1 through April 4, up from 16 in the same period in 2020.

On Saturday, May 1, two Asian-Americans were targeted in NYC, a 15-year-old boy and a 52-year-old woman. Both attacks are being investigated by the city’s Hate Crime Task Force.

The teenage victim was sitting at 62-01 99th Street in Flushing, when he was approached by a group of five other teenagers around 3 p.m. in the afternoon.

Police say that one of the teens verbally harassed the victim, saying “what the f-k you looking at, Ching Chong?”

The boy stood up and requested that the teens leave him alone, but instead, they attacked him by punching him in the head. The victim was taken to Booth Memorial Hospital in stable condition.

Three of the teenagers — ages 18, 15 and 14 — were arrested and the remaining two are being sought. They were charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment, and police say that hate crimes charges may be added later. 

Meanwhile, the 52-year-old Chinese woman was attacked at the Myrtle Avenue and Broadway subway station in Bedford-Stuyvesant around 3:35 p.m. 

The victim told police that a woman she did not know approached her, pushing her twice towards the subway tracks while making statements. 

Police say that a good Samaritan prevented her from falling onto the tracks. The suspect then fled the station. 

The victim speaks limited English, so she wasn’t sure what the woman said to her. 

The NYPD has ramped up its bias crimes division by adding a team of undercover Asian-American police officers to try to curb the disturbing spike in hate crimes. 

This effort, while necessary and beginning to see small successes, is barely scratching the surface of the deep-rooted problem, as another anti-Asian attack occurred the following day.

An Asian woman in NYC was attacked in the head with a hammer by a stranger who demanded that the victim remove her face mask. The attack occurred around 8:40 p.m on Sunday, May 2 on the 410 block of West 42nd Street, in Hell’s Kitchen. 

Surveillance video shows the moment that a woman appeared to confront two Asian women walking on the sidewalk. The woman demanded they remove their masks, before striking one of them in the head with a hammer. 

The victim was identified as a 31-year-old woman, and she was taken to the hospital for a head laceration. The other woman, 29, did not appear to have suffered any physical injuries. 

The 31-year-old told NBC New York that the attack shocked her, adding that she has lived in the city for two years and had never experienced anything like it. 

The Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack, and as of Tuesday morning, no arrests have been made. 

Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the attacks. Cuomo released a statement on Tuesday, expressing his disgust, and said the city will do everything in their power to protect this vulnerable population and hold “cowardly perpetrators to the full extent of the law.”

Hours before the attacks, a Stop Asian Hate rally was held in Queens, in which Mayor de Blasio, Rep. Grace Meng and Senator Chuck Schumer attended. 

“If you hate, get the hell out of here because you don’t deserve to live in New York City,” De Blasio said at the rally. 

Fortunately, organizations and corporations are beginning to step up and support the community in several ways. 

On Monday, May 3, members of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) launched a $250 million initiative dedicated to serving 23 million Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders across the nation. 

The organizers told Reuters that this is the “largest-ever philanthropic effort to support the AAPI community.” 

Throughout the last five years, TAAF’s board members have contributed about $125 million. The nonprofit was founded by prominent AAPI community leaders including Joe Tsai, Li lu, Peng Zhao, Li Lu, and Sheila Lirio Marcelo. Founding Advisory Council members include Daniel Dae Kim, Jeremy Lin, Lisa Ling, Condoleezza Rice and more.

The organization also strives to unite AAPI communities through representation and advocacy, and to “reshape the public’s understanding of the unique challenges that Asian-Americans have faced throughout history.” 

TAAF’s recent initiative will focus on three main areas: data and research, anti-hate, and education. It will aid organizations that seek to create safer spaces for AAPI communities by improving defense solutions and hate crime tracking. It will also assist in the development of school curriculums that accurately portray AAPI history. 

Li Lu, the Board Chair of TAAF told NextShark: “I feel that one plus one equals unlimited potential, and that’s what really makes America powerful.” 

“As a Chinese American, I know when we leverage the strengths of everyone we create belonging and a future fueled by innovation, growth and opportunity,” Lu continued.

The organization is calling on businesses and philanthropic leaders to participate in their AAPI Giving Challenge, which encourages funders to support AAPI organizations and causes through financial and non-financial means. 

TAAF has already made several investments, including $1 million grants to Stop AAPI Hate, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice Coalition, and the National Asian American Women’s Forum

TAAF released a launch video on Monday narrated by Lisa Ling and Daniel Dae Kim, and produced by Enfranchisement Productions. 

“The Asian American Foundation has come together to support Asian American Leaders who know how to make change,” the video’s description states. 

Facebook has also joined the movement, kicking off multiple initiatives in support of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, including new safety and support features, additional funding and partnerships, and a programming series dedicated to the community.

The social media giant is also expanding its comment warning features to encourage users to “to reconsider harmful language and provide education around how that language may impact the AAPI community and others.”

Throughout the month, users will see a #StopAsianHate notification at the top of their News Feed, allowing users to donate to different AAPI organizations. 

New stickers and avatar expressions will also appear on the social media platform. Instragam users will see new augmented reality and virtual reality filters and stickers designed in collaboration with artist Dingding Hu

Messenger now also has a new set of camera stickers, and WhatsApp users can share stickers created by illustrator Gracia Lam, highlighting the power of AAPI women. 

Facebook is also promoting AAPI-owned businesses through its Shop collections and “Shops You May Like” features on the app, along with the shop feature on Instagram. 

The corporation is partnering with Asian American Psychological Association, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Asian Mental Health Project and others to facilitate conversations on mental health. 

A series called “Amplify API” will run during the week of May 17, seeking to bring business founders, community leaders and media figures together to talk about issues and challenges facing the community. 

The Facebook Partner Center is partnering with the nonprofit Gold House to spotlight AAPI contributions in the media and entertainment industries, the business landscape as well as arts and culture. 

Lastly, Instagram will run a campaign featuring AAPIs who are “breaking the mold and pushing culture forward.” Users are encouraged to share AAPI creators who have influenced them and help others diversify their feeds. 

The growing crisis of anti-Asian violence will not end overnight, and it will take more than just police efforts. Organizational campaigns like that of TAAF and corporate involvement, especially through widely-used social media platforms, are crucial in shifting the culture that allows for racism to thrive. 


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