Over the last year, Asian Americans have not just been battling for their health and livelihoods but for their lives.
Blamed for the so-called “Kung Flu,” hate crimes against this demographic have jumped by 1,900 percent in New York — from 3 cases in 2019 to 28 in 2020 — with many more incidents unreported or not classified as hate crimes. Nationwide, over 2,800 race-based verbal and physical attacks were reported firsthand to the Stop AAPI Hate site from March to December 2020. Several on the receiving end of this violence have been the elderly, including an 89-year-old Chinese woman set on fire in Brooklyn and a 61-year-old Filipino man slashed with a boxcutter on a subway.
To raise awareness around this crime surge, Asian Americans are now using the hashtag #StopAsianHate to amplify news coverage as well as share their own experiences with discrimination. From prominent Asian celebrities like Olivia Munn and Henry Golding to fashion influencers like Phillip Lim and Kimora Lee Simmons, those with a platform are encouraging others to take a stand.
Brands, too, have begun breaking their silence. Kate Spade, Nike, Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger, and Valentino, among others recently made statements online condemning racism, though many simply offered variations of white text on black squares. But as speaking out on social movements becomes increasingly expected from businesses (Edelman found that 53 percent of customers agree every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue), it’s not enough to “stand united.” Beyond talk, businesses need to take action — and perhaps the easiest way to do so is by donating.
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For companies looking to make a difference, here are three organizations that can directly help the Asian American community.
Launched in March 2020 in response to the escalating xenophobia, Stop AAPI Hate is the leading aggregator of anti-Asian hate incidents in the US. The nonprofit and organizer coalition offers multilingual resources and technical assistance to impacted community members, supports restorative justice measures, and pushes for policies that reinforce civil rights protection. Learn more here
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is one of five affiliates under the umbrella organization Advancing Justice, which advocates for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans. The nonprofit ensures Asian Americans can fully participate in democracy by providing legal referrals, organizing youth leadership summits, and building local partnerships through its 130-organization strong network which spans 30 states. Following the spike in attacks, AAJC now offers training workshops to break down the “spectrum of disrespect” Asian Americans face — from microaggressions to violence — and educate others on bystander intervention and conflict de-escalation. Learn more here
In addition to reporting crimes and safeguarding civic rights, it is also crucial to keep the community emotionally safe. That’s where the Asian Mental Health Collective comes in. The group works to destigmatize mental illnesses — which are often compounded by culturally-specific barriers like intergenerational trauma — while making wellness resources more accessible to Asian Americans. Through their interview series, podcasts, meet-up groups and other events, the nonprofit hopes to facilitate the difficult, but necessary, conversations. Learn more here
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg (for more organizations, check out the New York Magazine’s list.) Other ways companies can support Asian Americans include starting dialogue with employees and consumers, assisting Asian-owned small businesses, improving diversity within their organization, holding lawmakers and other leaders accountable, and continuing to educate themselves on the Asian American experience, which is too often erased by the model minority myth.
The #StopAsianHate movement has dismantled the notion that Asian Americans don’t experience modern-day discrimination. But the hate didn’t start with COVID-19 and won’t end with it either — not unless society collectively acts. While businesses that take a stand can potentially influence the issue and even win over the country’s socially-conscious consumers in the process, those that are complacent will be seen as complicit. And backlash in this economy is not something any brand can afford.