5 Ways to Support the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community

Kanawa_Studio/iStock via Getty Images
Kanawa_Studio/iStock via Getty Images / Kanawa_Studio/iStock via Getty Images

According to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes in major U.S. cities dropped last year by about 7 percent. Anti-Asian hate crimes, however, spiked by almost 150 percent. The racist rhetoric falsely blaming China for the coronavirus pandemic no doubt contributed to this wave of harassment and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). The murder of six women of Asian descent, along with two other victims, outside Atlanta on March 16 is the latest tragedy, though law enforcement has not yet classified it as a hate crime.

From bystander intervention to volunteer efforts, here are five ways to support the AAPI community right now.

1. Learn how to intervene when you witness harassment.

Hollaback! is an organization that teaches people how to intervene when they witness racist, sexist, or other bias-based harassment. Their intervention methods are known as the Five D’s (distract, delegate, document, delay, direct), and they host free webinars to help people learn how to assess a situation and choose a suitable response. They teamed up with Asian Americans Advancing Justice to develop sessions specifically to stop anti-AAPI harassment, which you can sign up for here.

2. Report incidents of harassment or hate.

Documenting harassment is important even if the incident doesn’t legally qualify as a hate crime. The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department partnered to create an online reporting center called Stop AAPI Hate. Asian Americans Advancing Justice also has a reporting site.

3. Patronize AAPI-owned businesses.

Coronavirus-related racism has caused AAPI-owned small businesses to lose customers and AAPI unemployment rates to spike. Ordering takeout straight from AAPI-owned restaurants (without using third-party delivery services, if possible), buying groceries from AAPI-owned grocery stores, and patronizing other AAPI-owned shops (online, too) can help.

There are also organizations that can help connect you with businesses to support. Send Chinatown Love, for example, is an online platform bringing business to cash-only restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown. You can purchase a meal voucher from a specific place or just contribute to the overall fundraising pool (which gets divided among the restaurants). If you choose to “Gift-a-Meal,” your meal voucher will be donated to someone in need.

4. Volunteer your time and skills.

If you live in the Bay Area, you can volunteer for Compassion in Oakland, which pairs chaperones with Chinatown’s older residents so they can feel safe during errands and outings. Compassion in Oakland is also hoping to expand their work to other places—you can apply to start a branch in your town here.

Heart of Dinner delivers free food to Asian American seniors experiencing food insecurity and isolation in New York City. You don’t need to be a New Yorker to join the effort; they’re also looking for people to decorate brown bags and make handwritten cards to go with the meals, which you can mail from wherever. They’re open to other volunteer ideas, too. As they say on their website, “If you have a specialty in fundraising, copywriting, campaigning, marketing, ops coordination, nonprofit strategy, design, or something we might not have thought of, we want to hear from you!” You can submit an inquiry here.

The Asian American Advocacy Fund is a political action committee in Georgia that promotes racial justice, voting rights, and other civil and human liberties. You can volunteer for phone banking, text banking, and/or postcard mailing here.

5. Donate to organizations that support AAPI communities.

The Support the AAPI Community Fund (hosted by GoFundMe’s charity arm) will distribute grants to grassroots organizations across the country that “empower and uplift the AAPI community.” You can see a not-yet-final list of the organizations here, and the rest will be chosen by a group of AAPI activists and leaders.

Hate Is a Virus was founded last year to combat racism and hate crimes against the AAPI community. They’re currently running a CommUNITY Action Fund to support programs “related to mental health, better protections for our elderly, AAPI representation, solidarity-building, and more.”

The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) has 14 chapters across the country that tackle issues like reproductive rights, equal pay, and racial justice. You can find a chapter near you, or donate to the organization here.