By now, we know the ways that a pandemic can lay bare the stark inequities in this country. For Asian Americans, COVID-19 has claimed jobs, wages, and lives – here in San Francisco, nearly 40 percent of COVID-related deaths have been Asian Americans. On top of all of this, thousands of hate incidents have been reported nationwide in the last year, showing that Americans of Asian descent have been harassed, spit on, and stabbed.
We have been horrified to read about the latest attacks, which have targeted elderly Asian Americans. Two weeks ago today, an assailant murdered Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai American man who was out for his morning walk in San Francisco. These crimes are part of a long, racist, and xenophobic history of violence against Asian Americans.
Less than a month ago, the White House was occupied by a president who consistently used racist language to stoke violence against Asian Americans. We find tremendous hope in the fact that President Biden signed a memorandum on January 26 to condemn and combat racism against Asian Americans – one of a slew of immediate actions the new administration is taking to address racial equity in this country.
Here in the Bay Area, we are proud to support the work of community organizations such as Chinese for Affirmative Action, which last spring helped launch Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center to track the uptick in harassment and hate crimes against Asian Americans. We are building on the long history of solidarity between Asian American and Black communities. Our foundation’s north star – to advance racial equity and economic inclusion – largely hinges on organizing communities of color so that we are all safe, have secure housing, and have enough wealth to support their families. During times like this, it is through transformative solidarity work – not increased policing – that we can come out stronger.
This evening, we will usher in the Year of the Ox – a symbol of strength in the lunar new year zodiac. Here are some ways to channel our strength in order to stop these heinous crimes and to practice solidarity with the Asian American community:
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 and/or Attend a Solidarity Event: Join Oakland Chinatown Coalition’s volunteer foot patrol, or attend a solidarity event this weekend in Oakland and/or San Francisco. 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.
- Rapid Response Fund at the San Francisco Foundation, to provide quick-turnaround grants to grassroots nonprofits that are addressing emergency needs in the community.
- SFF donors can give now on your donor portal and for more giving recommendations, contact your Philanthropic Advisor at donorservices[at]sff.org.
4. 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.
- Check out A Brief Timeline of Racism Against Asians in America
- Watch the 2020 PBS series, Asian Americans
- Download the Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit
- Read a book on Asian American history from Eastwind Books in Berkeley
5. Celebrate Lunar New Year: Celebrate the new year and support Asian-owned businesses and restaurants, as one way of practicing intersectionality.