The anti-hate movement has sparked a surge of police, legislative, judicial, scholarly, and community activity. But activists are divided on whether some of the movement’s policy wins actually address the source of discrimination against AAPIs.
It all began in 2021, when a surge of racist incidents and hate crimes against Asian Americans — from the murder of an 84-year-old man in San Francisco to the brutal assaults on six women in Atlanta — led to a nationwide social movement to confront racial injustice. The outpouring of activism prompted Congress to hold the first hearings in decades focused on Asian Americans. Former late-night host Jay Leno apologized for jokes he’d made about eating dogs; and new attention was placed on how underrepresented Asian Americans are in film, TV, elected office, and leadership roles relative to their population.
Many of the activists leading these campaigns are young. Activists like Nathan Duong and Grace Xia, both 17, organized their first protests last year in California and Seattle, respectively. Both are members of the Stop AAPI Hate organization and say that their activism has strengthened their affinity with AAPI as a political identity. They hope to continue to organize and fight back against anti-Asian violence.
A coalition of nine community organizations launched NYC Against Hate in March 2020, convened by Jews For Racial & Economic Justice and the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP). The diverse group includes AAPI community organizers, local immigrant rights groups, and organizations that empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities and allies. NYC Against Hate’s strategy is three-pronged: prevention through education and community-building; interruption of hate violence through community-based upstander/bystander trainings and rapid response at the local level; and damage control through restorative justice, counseling, and support for survivors.
It also works to change the narrative around the impacted community, correct misinformation, and create deeper public understanding of the issues driving hate violence. It aims to do this through community alerts, rallies supporting survivors, media work, and targeted school-based and neighborhood education across multiple identities.
The group is also launching a campaign to raise awareness of the need for anti-hate legislation at the state and federal levels, including promoting bills like the BREATHE Act, drafted by progressive lawmakers such as Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, that would shutter the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and divest its funding from local law enforcement agencies.
Another part of the movement is an effort to combat racial profiling, particularly by law enforcement officers. The coalition is collecting data about incidents of racial profiling in the field, and it has pushed for better training and more resources on racial bias and hate crimes.
Other activists hope to use the momentum of the anti-hate movement to develop a comprehensive policy agenda. Some point to the Black Lives Matter movement’s racial justice platform as a model for an anti-hate policy agenda. They also point to a growing network of faith leaders, such as the Asian American Leadership Summit and the Interfaith Alliance for Justice, who are helping organize simultaneous prayer rallies in a show of solidarity against hate.