Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have borne an additional burden of suspicion, harassment, and violence. In an effort to detract from their own failures in handling the pandemic, some of our most senior government officials amplified ugly anti-Asian stereotypes and hate speech, drawing on a long and destructive history of racism in this country. Today, we are witnessing the grave consequences of this racial scapegoating. Reports of verbal and physical violence against members of the AAPI community are escalating across the country, with tragic consequences. This week’s mass murder in Atlanta of eight people—including six women of Asian descent—is one of the latest and most horrific examples.
As Californians, we have a special responsibility to combat this chronic and devastating pattern of abuse and violence. California is the most diverse state in the nation; this is the greatest source of our strength and Asian Americans have played a crucial role in building our state and making it flourish. Nearly six million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders call California home—more than any other state—and yet some of these hate crimes are happening in our own backyard. It is critical to acknowledge our own failures to combat AAPI racial violence in all its forms and to reckon with California’s own harmful history of racism, which lies beneath today’s anguish. We know that xenophobia and bigotry are all too common in our society, especially during challenging times. We also know that we need to do much more to overcome these malicious tendencies and the systemic racism that fosters them.
At the Public Policy Institute of California, we stand in solidarity with our AAPI colleagues, neighbors, and communities. We are dedicated to raising public awareness and focusing our research on the inequities that run through all areas of society. As we move forward, we remain committed to increasing understanding and providing policy solutions that better the lives of our state’s diverse communities.