On the first day of the Lunar New Year, my colleagues and I from the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus gathered to address the disturbing spike in anti-Asian hate crimes across California and the country during this past year.
There’s no doubt that skyrocketing hate crimes against Asian Americans, especially our elders, have had a direct connection to former President Trump’s racist rhetoric surrounding COVID-19 and his references to the “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu.”
But it speaks volumes that even after Trump left office, the incidents of hate have continued. At this point, 31% of Asian Americans across the country have said they have experienced discrimination or hate since the pandemic began. Over 700 incidents in the Bay Area alone have been reported, and we know that is a significant undercount.
The discrimination towards and the danger to our community is not going anywhere anytime soon, so we’re taking action.
Along with Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, I am reintroducing my 2017 bill to require the California Department of Justice to establish a toll-free hotline and online reporting for incidents of hate and to connect victims with local law enforcement and services. Assemblymember Bonta and I are proposing a bill to fund community-based organizations that facilitate culturally competent and mental health services for victims of hate violence and restorative justice programs.
Our API Legislative Caucus have called for the creation of a racial bias task force, made up of key state agencies who can work in real time with community-based organizations and immigrant advocates. We also successfully advocated for $1.4 million in funding to the Stop AAPI Hate initiative, which conducts research, advocacy and education related to the impact of COVID-19 on our diverse communities, including the harm caused by incidents of hate.
These are the kind of concrete steps my colleagues and I are taking to tackle hate crimes during this immediate moment, and to root out systemic discrimination against our diverse API communities in the long run.
It’s a tragic reality that the beginning of the Year of the Ox has been overshadowed by this continued rise in hate and violence within our community. My profound hope is that through policy interventions, hard work, education and allyship, we can end this disturbing trend and begin to heal.