By Meghan Imperio
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a rise in xenophobia against Asian communities across the country. Recently, this escalation of violent acts targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) has gained the attention of mainstream media, especially after an elderly Asian man died after being a victim of a hate crime in San Francisco and this week’s violent attack against six Asian women in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Stop AAPI Hate coalition formed in response to these targeted attacks against Asians amid the pandemic in order to address and combat anti-Asian discrimination and support Asian communities that are subjected to discrimination as a result of COVID-19.
In a press release published in early March, the Stop AAPI Hate coalition and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center break down the allocation of their funding after receiving $1.4 million in funding from California for ongoing research, and other programs built to address the rising xenophobia against Asians as well as the broader impact that COVID-19 has had on Asian American communities.
One of the programs which the funding will be allocated to is the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center which allows people to report acts of hate and xenophobia against Asian American people. This enables the coalition to track these incidents in order to respond to racial discrimination sparked by the pandemic, advocate for this community and use it towards research.
The Stop AAPI Hate Coalition states in the press release: “In the past year, we have seen that it is absolutely critical to invest in tracking the number of hate incidents against Asian Americans that are taking place. Documenting and analyzing the attacks — both in California and across the country — has enabled us to draw attention to this crisis, ensure that our community is not ignored, and advocate on its behalf”
“The funding allocated to Stop AAPI Hate will support the coalition’s efforts to address the devastating impact of anti-Asian hate, including tracking and documenting incidents in order to proactively prevent future incidents from occurring. The funding will also allow the coalition to expand the resources it can offer directly to impacted community members and families, as well as establish new partnerships with organizations, businesses and governments to develop long-lasting policy and community-based solutions to hate and violence.”
These funds from California will also go towards the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, which has been researching topics such as the research by Paul Ong, which looks at the ways in which the pandemic has affected Asian communities through business, home owning and renting.
“The funding allocated to the UCLA Asian American Studies Center will enable it to continue its commitment to research into subjects like housing and employment,” said the press release.
Furthermore, the funding will also support the website developed by this program along with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health which offers translations of COVID-19 medical facts and health guidelines: “The center’s website translates COVID-19 medical facts into dozens of languages to advance efforts to get evidence-based information to people who are often isolated by language barriers from public health messages.”
This program seeks to ensure that a language barrier does not put certain groups at a greater health risk due to a lack of access to public information, and that all individuals have access to the same guidelines and information regardless of the language that they speak.
This Multilingual Resource Hub offers translations about COVID-19 information as well as COVID-19 vaccination information in a variety of languages such as French, Armenian, Hmong and countless other languages. The website also offers the information in multiple languages based on local guidelines for various states and territories.
With this funding, Stop AAPI Hate and UCLA Asian American Studies Center aims to allow research to continue and lead to solutions that will be beneficial to all communities, raise awareness of the marginalization that Asian Americans are currently experiencing as a result of the pandemic, protect Asian communities from racially motivated acts of violence, and support those who have been a victim of these crimes.
This act by the state of California is the first step in many actions against xenophobia and racism against AAPI that are sure to come. For example, on March 5th, the Department of Justice, in accordance with President Biden’s “Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States” held a listening session as part of the effort to combat hate crimes against AAPI communities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, there have been over 3,000 reports of racism and discrimination which target Asian Amercians across the country.
Many people were not aware that these attacks against Asian communities are not new occurrences, and have been occurring frequently since the start of the pandemic, but not getting the attention from the media. The visibility and awareness of these attacks is a result of the rise in hate crimes due to the racist rhetoric about the pandemic finally being brought to the attention of the mainstream media. This rise in awareness likely served as a catalyst for Stop AAPI Hate receiving this funding from the state.
While the fight against racism, xenophobia and acts of violence against AAPI as a direct result of the ongoing pandemic has just begun, there will likely be much more legislation and protections for all communities—especially underrepresented communities such as low income, minority and AAPI communities—to come in order to address the disproportionate toll that the pandemic has taken on these groups.
Meghan Imperio is a writer for the LA Vanguard’s social justice desk. She is an English major at UCLA, originally from Glendale, CA.
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