During the height of the pandemic, the entirety of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community was confronted with the rise of extreme physical and verbal abuse. The increase of horrific acts of violence, discrimination, and bullying online, in the workplace, and schools, incited hatred. Since the pandemic hit in 2020, there have been over 9,000 reports of hate-related incidents. However, to counteract the immense pain that was inflicted on the AAPI community was the birth of #StopAsianHate.
#StopAsianHate is a movement that surfaced in the beginning of 2021, with the goal of standing against the violence projected upon the AAPI community. It is a movement, a coalition, a simple phrase that held so much weight, hope, and strength for the community. Among the many heroes leading and uniting the people of this movement is Philip Lin. A figure head of the StopAsianHate Movement, Lin is an American fashion designer of Chinese descent, with parents who immigrated to America, escaping the Cambodian Genocide in Thailand.
Lin said, “StopAsianHate was born out of individuals like myself in the AAPI community saying No, enough is enough.” Whether the reason is fear, being told ‘to keep your head down,’ understanding that something as simple as embracing the term Asian American is a political commitment, activism became a different experience for many. The diversity of the AAPI community in terms of race, experience, and much more is so vast, yet what is commonly understood is that the community understands that it is a necessity to no longer be scapegoated.”
In 1968 a group of graduate students of Asian descent studying at the University of California at Berkeley were inspired by the Black Power Movement. They too wanted to join the fight for racial equality, choosing their new political alliance to be under the umbrella term: Asian American. This was the first time the term was documented.
Now, people like Lily Li, an Asian American social strategy and content coordinator, use the term Asian American and its history rooted in unity to empower the AAPI community to stand up against violence. She told her story of attending a Black and Asian solidarity march in New York, and feeling a sense of encouragement due to the turnout. Li said, “I felt like we were raising a generation that is becoming accustomed to seeing the Asian American community activated like this and walking amongst their allies.” For many historians and advocates, this mobilization felt like the first time in decades where Asian American activism could be seen on such a widespread scale. The rise in hate-related incidents and crimes, along with the racial reckoning provoked by several horrifying incidents, has caused a coalition to form within this diverse racial group.