Dear NEA APIC Members,
As people and governments around the world struggle to face the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic, members of the API community face a sharp rise in racist attacks incited by the hostile, divisive rhetoric of the President of the United States and his base. These hate crimes are not isolated events; 650 racist attacks were reported last week alone. The Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community is being targeted at an unprecedented rate.
According to ABC News, “The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus… endangering Asian American communities.” There are incidents being reported across the country– from Los Angeles to New York, from Texas and even in my home state of Minnesota. In Texas, 19-year-old Jose Gomez stabbed four people including a Burmese man and his two-year and six-year-old children because “he thought they were Chinese and infecting people with coronavirus.”
We know this behavior is not new; it is rooted in the historical racism that built this country starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first law implemented in US history to prevent all members of a specific national group or ethnicity from immigrating. It is the latest adaptation of “Yellow Peril” that scapegoats API people and targets us as the enemy within–casting us forever as the perpetual foreigner.
That doesn’t make this recent spread of racism any more understandable or palatable. These events have many of us angry, hurt, and afraid– for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community. Ultimately, we need to figure out how this will be remembered, how we took a stand, and how we rebuild our larger communities.
What can we do? How do we stand together and take back the narrative when many people worry about speaking out and becoming further ostracized within their communities? The NEA APIC officers would like to challenge you to the following actions:
Get informed–learn the facts behind Covid-19 so you can help spread the correct information.
If you see racism, don’t be afraid to call it out. Here are some links that might help:
Create a sign (or use one of ours), take a selfie, post it on social media–change your profile picture to this selfie so we can create a collective force that says we are part of the API community, we stand with the API community, and we will not tolerate racism in our community. #StopAPIHate #AntiAsianRacism #PeopleAreNOTViruses. Also, send that selfie to me at firstname.lastname@example.org; we’d love to collect all the photos to create a video to share with everyone.
Share this selfie challenge with everyone in your networks. The more people who participate, the more opportunities for honest conversations, the more solidarity we can create–and the more hope we build, because we all need a little hope right now, right?
The NEA APIC Officers
Signs can be found here https://drive.google.com/…/1xgHiGL8lJaoRvCpJwem8TwWVl…/view…