WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) President and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine co-hosted a landmark national convening with Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and the Attorney General Alliance (AGA) on countering anti-AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) hate.
Taking place during AAPI Heritage Month, the convening assembled a broad array of legal and policy experts, leading advocates, business and corporate leaders from across the country, as well as officials from federal, state, and local government to discuss how to combat anti-AAPI hate and offer tangible solutions to address it.
“Our country faces a reckoning as the pandemic has laid bare many of the disparities and biases that have only been exacerbated during the past year,” said Attorney General Racine. “This moment in our country demands action. Today we brought together some of greatest minds from across the nation to have an honest, solutions-oriented conversation about how to stop anti-AAPI hate. No one should fear being attacked. Last year when I launched my Presidential Initiative to help address hate, my goal was to unite individuals from different political parties, various industries, and all levels of government around how to address hate and seek solutions. Today, we’re doing just that.”
The convening was part of AG Racine’s year-long Presidential Initiative called The People v. Hate: Standing Up for Humanity, which is taking place during his tenure as the president of NAAG. The initiative aims to raise awareness of hate and bias, prevent hate from taking root in our communities, and support residents who have experienced hate.
“The history of bias and hate against Asian-Americans in this country is long and largely invisible, but we cannot remain silent anymore,” said Attorney General Tong. “The violence and bigotry existed well before the pandemic scapegoating of Asian-Americans, but malicious rhetoric like ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu’ have worsened this trauma and placed targets on the backs of families like mine. I thank all who convened today and committed to real action to end AAPI hate. This is a first step, and I look forward to continuing this hard work together.”
“Our organization is successful because we work as a diverse team,” said Karen White, AGA Executive Director. “We thrive by treating all people with respect and understanding—which, in essence is what today’s event is all about. Our relationships depend on fostering conversations which include different views and educational opportunities. We promote sharing knowledge and perspective. That is the only way forward.”
During the convening, the participants discussed the history of hate against the AAPI community, the rise of online anti-AAPI hate, how the law enforcement community is responding to hate, the importance of representation and equity across sectors, and the need to stand up to hate and support survivors. Participants also pledged to take tangible steps to help combat anti-AAPI hate and called on others to do the same. As part of the convening:
- Policymakers and elected officials highlighted legislation that needs to pass to increase hate crime reporting;
- Participants were educated on available bystander trainings to learn how to intervene when they witness hate;
- Survivors of hate incidents and hate crimes learned more about resources that are available to them; and
- Business leaders pledged solidarity to help address anti-AAPI hate.
The convening included keynote addresses from Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff; U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona; Amanda Nguyen, CEO and Founder of Rise – a millennial-driven social change incubator for citizen lawmaking – and 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee; Congressmembers Judy Chu (CA), Ted Lieu (CA), and Grace Meng (NY); and Lee Wong, an Ohio elected official and U.S. veteran who recently bared his chest during a local meeting to show scars from his service in the U.S. Army after he got tired of some people questioning his patriotism.
Below please find statements from many of the organizations that participated in the convening:
“It’s extremely important to me to do everything I can to increase awareness of how pervasive racism and violence is in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Communities, and appreciate this opportunity to examine how law enforcement handles these cases. I have been on the receiving end of hateful threats and violence. From the time I was young, I have witnessed friends and family victimized by the trauma of intolerance and the cruelty and terror of hate. It is one of the reasons I take this threat so seriously. And, as a law enforcement leader, I feel even more responsibility to hold violent, hate fueled perpetrators accountable.”
- Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes
“Violent extremists and those who perpetuate hate tend not to target just one community, the same movements that target Jews also target the AAPI and other communities. That is why it is so critical for us to take a unified approach against hate. If you are a member of the AAPI community – those of us at ADL hear you and see you, and we hope to work together to our safeguard our communities. That is why this event is so important, the Attorney Generals Association and Attorneys General Racine and Tong have stepped up with the leadership we need to address AAPI hate.”
- Adam Neufeld, Senior Vice President for Programs at the Anti-Defamation League
"Hate and racism targeting our AAPI community continues to be a serious issue across the country — the time for change is now. We look forward to working collaboratively with leaders and experts across all sectors to take actionable steps to address the devastating impacts of this hate and create tangible solutions to prevent it."
- Manjusha P. Kulkarni (Esq.), executive director of Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate
“NAPABA is proud to take part in the Attorney General Alliance’s National Convening Against Anti-AAPI Hate. As we attempt to better navigate the convergence of anti-Asian American discrimination, the rise in hate incidents, and the lingering grip of the COVID pandemic, it is imperative that the AGA community gather to listen, learn, collaborate, and develop needed action plans.”
- A.B. Cruz III, President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
"Racist rhetoric against Asian American communities is rampant online, and cannot be seen in isolation from increasing violence. At Moonshot, we're closely monitoring the changing nature of domestic violent extremism across the US. Hate speech directed at AAPI communities has increased significantly since January 2020, and much of the disinformation underpinning it is seeded within extremist spaces. Much of what we see online runs deeper than merely being an impact of anti-Asian COVID disinformation. This hate leverages the "us versus them" messaging and dehumanization we've seen historically and in other racist narratives, and deliberately seeks to drive a wedge between communities. We must act proactively and collaboratively to fight the spread of disinformation and hate targeting AAPI communities."
- Vidhya Ramalingam, Founder of Moonshot, an organization that uses technology to disrupt and counter online harms globally
"Asian American women have been experiencing a new level of visibility but as targets of harassment and violence. The only way we can dismantle the systems of oppression that encourage this violence is by confronting the centuries of unique discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islander women. From one of the country's first immigration laws in 1875 to the continued fetishization of our communities in 2021, AAPI women have been targets of the dual forces of racism and misogyny for decades. We need to be seen beyond the stereotypes. We demand to be seen and to be heard and call for meaningful structural change that ensures economic justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive freedom for all of us."
- Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum
“People used to think the only thing they could do to reduce violence against AAPI communities was to not be violent towards AAPI communities. We now know that's not enough. Since the March 16th attacks in Atlanta, we've seen 105,000+ sign up to get trained in bystander intervention to address anti-AAPI hate with Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, and 98.6% of them level confident that they will intervene the next time they see harassment. Change isn't just coming, it's here.”
- Emily May, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Hollaback!
“We are grateful to be invited to participate in this important convening of policy leaders and advocates. Since its national launch on April 19, The Yellow Whistle (TM) campaign has already distributed 10K customized whistles through an alliance of 80 plus partners, covering almost all 50 states. We will distribute another 90K free whistles throughout the month of May. Thanks to leadership organizations like the AGA and our dedicated outreach partners, The Yellow Whistle has become a symbol of self-protection, alarm, and solidarity, that unites Asian Americans to demand our right to BELONG."
- Agnes Hsu-Tang, Ph.D, co-founder of The Yellow Whistle
“It is far past time to recognize that hate represents an urgent threat to far too many Americans--including a long history of anti-AAPI attacks, harassment, and slurs. We need our attorney generals and prosecutors to take a stand and send the clear message that hate and bias will not be tolerated against any community, and that justice will be delivered to both the individuals and the communities targeted by enforcing hate crime laws."
- Sim J. Singh, Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy for the Sikh Coalition
“The Asian American communities are gravely saddened and concerned about the recent sharp increases in attacks and violence on law-abiding, hardworking Asian Americans. Asian Americans traditionally love this great country of ours. They are proud to contribute, to help build this great country and serve in the armed forces of this great nation. The Asian American communities are deeply concerned about the lack of safety these days and call for actions to return to civility and treat each other with respect, dignity, and equality, for which America is proudly known and standing."
- Lee Wong, Trustee of West Chester Township Ohio and U.S. veteran who recently bared his chest during a local meeting to show scars from his service in the U.S. Army after he got tired of some people questioning his patriotism
"Americans of Asian descent - the forgotten Americans - are being viciously targeted and systematically dehumanized like never before. In the face of injustice, we must stand together to ensure that Asian American lives are no longer forgotten. Attorneys General Tong and Racine are to be commended for their vision and courage in tackling an issue that speaks directly to the core of America's values."
- Marcus Wang, Esq., President and CEO, ZytoGen Global Genetics Institute
“I’m honored to have led a discussion that brings much needed visibility to the enormous challenges confronting the AAPI community. A sincere thanks to Attorney General Racine and Attorney General Tong for addressing this alarming rise in hate by putting together today’s event. I look forward to working with the Attorney General Alliance to continue this important conversation.”
- Harold Kim, President, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform