Dear members of the Making Waves community,
Over the past year, violence toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities has increased dramatically. Racist rhetoric calling the coronavirus pandemic the “Chinese virus” has fueled a rise in hate crimes directed at Chinese Americans and other Asians and Pacific Islanders. Harassment, racial slurs, and assaults have spiked, and we are experiencing this acutely in the Bay Area, with hate crimes reported across San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and other communities. At Making Waves, we condemn the racism and violence that is terrorizing Asian and Pacific Islander individuals, families, and communities.
The reality is that this anti-Asian xenophobia is not new in the United States. Our country has a long history of anti-Asian racism, from the Chinese Exclusion Act’s ban on Chinese immigration and citizenship in the 1880s, to Japanese-American internment in the 1940s, to the 1982 murder of Chinese American Vincent Chin motivated by the fear that Americans were losing manufacturing jobs to Japan, to the hate crimes against South Asian Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs following 9/11. The current pattern of hate crimes reinforces the importance of our continued work to grapple with our history, so that we can create a different future together.
In education, we see how racism impacts Asian and Pacific Islander young people. According to the California Healthy Kids Survey, “Asian American and Pacific Islander students are the racial group most likely to be bullied” in California public high schools, from verbal harassment, to cyberbullying, to physical assaults. Asian and Pacific Islander young people are often placed within the context of the “model minority” myth, the stereotype that Asian students consistently achieve at a high level in education, which fails to recognize the incredible diversity within Asian and Pacific Islander communities and the challenges of poverty and inequity that many people face.
The model minority myth ultimately extends far beyond the classroom, impacting how Asian and Pacific Islander individuals navigate the world around them—in education, in the workplace, and in their communities. All too often, this stereotype leads to the voices, stories, and needs of individual Asian and Pacific Islanders being overlooked. In addition, the model minority myth can drive a wedge between Asian and Pacific Islanders and other BIPOC communities. In this current moment of increased violence, we are inspired by the community building taking place across Asian and Pacific Islander and Black communities, which can serve as models for the multiracial coalitions needed over the long term to tackle systemic racism.
At Making Waves, our collective mission is advancing educational opportunity for underserved youth. To provide transformative educational experiences in underserved communities of color, we must play a more active role in combating racism and advancing equity. Part of this work is centered on including and elevating the stories and experiences of all our community members, helping us learn our collective history and grow our skill in advancing justice and opportunity for all. This includes recognizing the unique and diverse stories and experiences within Asian and Pacific Islander communities. To the members of our Asian and Pacific Islander community—students, alumni, families, staff, board members, and supporters—we see you and stand in solidarity with you.
The San Francisco Foundation pulled together a great set of resources for taking action, and we’re sharing some of their recommendations below.
1. Learn What To Do if You Experience or Witness Hate: Read these tips from Stop AAPI Hate to learn what to do if you experience hate and how to safely intervene when you see harassment or a hate crime taking place.
2. Volunteer: Join Oakland Chinatown Coalition’s volunteer foot patrol. People of all backgrounds are welcome to join.
3. Support Community Groups Responding to the Violence:
• Oakland Chinatown Coalition (fiscally sponsored by Asian Health Services)
• Coalition for Safety and Justice (fiscally sponsored by Community Youth Center of San Francisco)
• Chinese for Affirmative Action, Chinese Progressive Association, and New Breath Foundation, which are also member organizations of the Coalition for Safety and Justice and are doing important transformative solidarity work in the Bay Area.
4. Rapid Response Fund at the San Francisco Foundation, to provide quick-turnaround grants to grassroots nonprofits that are addressing emergency needs in the community.
5. Continue Learning: Each and every one of us benefits from learning how to be anti-racist. Here are some resources to help learn about the history of racism against Asian Americans, as well as the ways that Asian Americans have been integral to our joint movement for equity.
• Watch the 2020 PBS series, Asian Americans
• Download the Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit