Anti-Asian racism is nothing new. Let’s make it a thing of the past.
Since the pandemic’s onset, the United States has witnessed a horrifying uptick in anti-Asian hate and violence. Asian people have been spat on, pushed, sprayed with Lysol, called derogatory names and, in other instances, killed.
Much of the anti-Asian violence has been fueled by anti-Asian rhetoric surrounding COVID-19.
As the hate crimes continue to rise, community organizations are working around the clock to advance the health and well-being of the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and prevent further incidents from occurring.
“The number continues to grow as more people hear about our reporting center,” says Russell Jeung, PhD.
Jeung is professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, an Asian hate reporting center that launched in March 2020.
Since its founding, Stop AAPI Hate has tracked more than 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate, violence, and harassment.
While racial epithets such as “China virus” and “kung flu” have fueled hostility toward Asians and Asian Americans, Jeung says that Christian nationalism also had a role to play.
According to Jeung, Christian nationalism is the notion that the United States should be a white Christian nation and anyone who is not white, despite being born in the United States, is an outsider and foreigner.
“The perpetual foreigner stereotype has been really operative and dangerous,” Jeung says. “And we’re being excluded. That leads to our dehumanization.”
According to Jeung, this ideology gives people license to push Asian elders and cough and spit on Asian people.
While it may seem new, racism and targeted attacks against the Asian and Asian American community has been a long-standing issue.
From the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was beaten to death by two white men, to the scapegoating of Asian people as disease carriers of malaria and smallpox, Asian people have long been targets of hate and violence.
To combat racism, many community organizations are joining forces to do anti-racist work.
“To be anti-racist means to uproot the sources of racism and look towards long-term solutions for racial justice and equity,” Jeung explains.
Many of the organizations below offer comprehensive services that have looked to address racism from the individual, interpersonal, community, and policy levels with the hopes that it will create systemic change.
Stop AAPI Hate
Stop AAPI Hate is a reporting center that was launched by three Asian advocacy powerhouses: Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University.
“AAPI has documented the widespread nature of racism against Asian Americans. That’s really significant because people don’t believe that Asian Americans experience discrimination,” Jeung explains. “But our data demonstrates that it is a nationwide issue.”
In the future, Jeung says that Stop AAPI Hate will use this data to inform policies and coordinate with governments, school districts, and community groups to see what can be done to combat anti-Asian racism.
The organization will also use the data to provide mental health resources to families who are navigating the legacy of racism.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) is a nonprofit organization advancing the civil and human rights of Asian Americans while advocating for better policies that shape the lives of the Asian community.
The organization serves as a national voice for the AAPI community and disseminates documents such as legal briefs, policy recommendations, and testimonies to public hearings in an effort to bring visibility to racism against the Asian community and the effects it has on mental and physical health.
Red Canary Song
As the only grassroots Chinese massage parlor worker coalition in the United States, Red Canary Song has been organizing across borders to provide representation to migrant workers who have been affected by policing and immigration control.
The organization was founded as a means to demand justice and police accountability for the death of Yang Song, a massage worker who was killed during a police raid in November 2017.
Since its establishment, Red Canary Song has created the Women’s Migrant Resource Network, operated a grant and donation fund, and stood in solidarity with other community organizations.
Asian American Federation
The Asian American Federation (AAF) is working to advance the pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness, and nonprofit support in New York.
Their reports have provided data and policy recommendations on the issues affecting the Asian American community. Some issues the AAF tackles are poverty, mental health, and economic opportunity.
“We’ve identified in our research that there’s actually not enough services to address those needs,” says Joo Han, deputy director of AAF.
In a 13-year analysis, the AAF found that Asian people were the poorest and most underserved community in New York. Their research hasn’t only amplified these issues, but has advocated for policy change.
The AAF has also created resources including the Stay Safe from Hate booklet, a free resource to help people de-escalate tense situations and protect others. They also offer safety videos that teach self-defense techniques.
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is a nonprofit working to elevate and build power among AAPI women and girls.
Their work is much needed, especially during a time when Asian American women bear the disproportionate burden of reported incidents of harassment and violence. This rate is 2.3 times more than men, according to a Stop AAPI Hate national report.
In light of the Atlanta shootings, NAPAWF has organized a petition that calls on elected officials to take action. Some calls to action include centering the community’s needs, tackling systemic racism and white supremacy, and providing resources for people affected by anti-Asian hate.
Asian Mental Health Project
Part of anti-racism work is mental health and self-care. The Asian Mental Health Project is bringing mental health into the fold of anti-racism work by providing resources to all Asian people seeking mental healthcare.
On their website, you can find a plethora of resources, from crisis helplines and therapy-finding tools to a therapist outreach template to facilitate a more seamless process when reaching out to a therapist.
Asian Mental Health Collective
“Stigma in our community is the biggest deterrent for people seeking mental health services,” Han says.
Organizations like the Asian Mental Health Collective are working to destigmatize and normalize mental health within the Asian community. They address mental health taboos on their blog and YouTube channel segment, Ask A Therapist.
Additionally, they operate the APISAA Therapist Directory that connects people from the community to therapists based in your state.
Welcome to Chinatown
Asian-owned businesses across the nation have seen a drop in sales and business, including New York City. In an effort to support and preserve New York City’s Chinatown, Welcome to Chinatown offers pro bono resources to Manhattan’s Chinatown businesses.
So far, Welcome to Chinatown has helped businesses drive revenue, develop a long-term sustainability plan, and amplify the voices of local business owners.
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
One organization working to support Asian immigrant refugee communities is the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN). Han says that language is one barrier that prevents Asian immigrant communities from advocating for themselves.
When it comes to services, “city and state agencies don’t make it very easy to access services in Asian languages,” Han explains.
These struggles underscore the importance of APEN’s work to mobilize Asian immigrant and refugee communities to fight back against some of the biggest polluters.
For instance, APEN helped Chinese workers win compensation after their employer knowingly exposed them to arsenic dust at a rate 21 times the legal limit.
These community organizations are working to combat anti-Asian racism through policy, advocacy, and community mobilization, and you can be a part of their work.
Your donations, volunteer work, and amplification on social media make a difference. Let’s lift up the AAPI community one organization at a time.
Kayla Hui (she/her) is a freelance journalist covering health, policy, and climate change. Her work appears in the Pulitzer Center, Well+Good, Verywell Health, People Magazine, Anti-Racism Daily, and Toward Freedom. To see Kayla’s work, you can follow her on Twitter.