How to Be an Ally During Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Beyond
By John Boone
There is no bad time to be an ally, but amid Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month -- May, in the U.S. -- there's no better time to reflect on the work you're doing to support Asian and Asian American communities, as well as to Stop Asian Hate.
In the past year alone, there have been thousands of reports of anti-Asian hate, according to a release from Stop AAPI Hate, with racial violence and xenophobia exponentially fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic and racist messaging of the former president. In March, eight people were killed during a string of shootings at three Atlanta-area spas, six of whom being of Asian descent.
"Now is the time for our non-Asian friends and colleagues to show us through their actions that they're listening," journalist and Asian Women Alliance founding member XiXi Yang said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "As opposed to denying racism or telling us how to feel, there is so much power in listening to an entire community's hurt."
To mark AAPI Heritage Month, ET has compiled the below resources:
Listen: To Asian voices who have spoken out
The past few months, especially, have seen Asian leaders and Hollywood stars alike using their platforms to raise awareness and advocate for their community.
"Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks," the boy band wrote in a letter posted to social media. "But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away our self-esteem."
Cho penned an essay for the Los Angeles Times, writing, "Please don’t minimize the hate or assume it’s somewhere far away. It’s happening close to you. If you see it on the street, say something. If you hear it at work, say something. If you sense it in your family, say something. Stand up for your fellow Americans."
"Racism is real in America, and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America, and always has been. Sexism, too," the vice president said during a speech in Atlanta. "Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated. People who are perceived as Muslim know what it was like to live in our country after 9/11. For the last year, we've had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate."
The actor has lent his voice to the fight for legislation aimed at protecting those who are being targeted by acts of hate and domestic terror. "Words matter, from our president, from our leaders, from anyone with a platform," Kim said during a congressional hearing. "What happens right now and over the course of the coming months will send a message for generations to come as to whether we matter."
"Words matter," Liu said in an interview with Women's Health Magazine. "When violence happens, [it’s because] the seed has been planted through thoughts and words that give people permission to act out their frustrations and anger. People who use [racist] words, or who don't use their words to protect other people, are complicit -- regardless of what side or color you represent in the political atmosphere."
"Racism doesn't always come in the form of a white hood and a pitchfork; it’s just not that simple," the Shang-Chi star wrote in an op-ed for Variety. "Anti-Asian racism is very real, and it will not be solved with an opulent rom-com or Marvel superhero, but with you -- the bystanders -- acknowledging the validity of our pain."
"Please help my people be safe. Please care about what’s happening to us. There has been an astronomical rise in violent hate crimes against Asians/AAPI since the pandemic was weaponized against us. We need help," Munn wrote in one of many social media posts.
"I will challenge everyone here, if you see something, will you help me? If you see one of our sisters and brothers in need, will you help us? We must understand, as Asian Americans, we just need to reach out our hand to our sisters and brothers and say, 'Help me and I'm here,'" Oh said during a rally in Pennsylvania. "I am proud to be Asian! I belong here!"
"We just came out of a long line of politicians that put a target on Asian people's backs by calling it 'the China virus,'" Teigen explained during an appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show. "I automatically think of when my mom's without me, 'How do people look at her? How do people treat her?' A lot of mothers and fathers are being targeted around the country and it's so obvious what the motive is."
"Things for Asians in this country have been really bleak for the past two weeks, and all the weeks before that since forever," the breakout star of SNL said during an appearance on Weekend Update. "I don't know what's helpful to say to everyone, but that's what I say to myself: 'Fuel up.' Do more."
Ask: How do we move the conversation forward?
1. Make a stand to #StopAsianHate: Whether that's at a rally or on your Instagram feed. Social media is your platform, no matter how many followers you have. Speak out in solidarity but also amplify voices from within the community (which means you need to be following those voices and creating a diverse timeline).
2. Educate yourself: Seek out sweeping historical records like PBS' five-part docuseries Asian Americans and author Erika Lee's The Making of Asian America, as well as movies (such as TheJoy Luck Club, The Farewell and the Oscar-winning Minari), TV series (CW's Kung Fu, Netflix's Never Have I Ever) and literature (Cathy Park Hong's Minor Feelings, Michelle Zauner's Crying in H Mart and Charles Yu's Interior Chinatown) that highlight the Asian and Asian American experience.
3. Promote positive representation: Hollywood is slowly working to make amends for the harmful stereotypes and portrayals of Asian characters it has long perpetuated. (Recent Oscars history made by Steven Yeun, Yuh-Jung Youn and Parasite is emblematic of a tide change, albeit one that still has far to go). Support continued efforts by supporting projects with authentic, prominent portrayals of the community by filmmakers and writers from the community.
Give back: Support the AAPI community
There are so many ways to support, whether it's taking to the street (like Rihanna), calling your legislator, being vigilante in your community or with a donation. Here are just a few of the organizations you can contribute to financially:
Stop Asian Hate on GoFundMe: "The Support the AAPI Community Fund aims to do just that, addressing the urgent issues that face the AAPI community as well as broader, systemic problems. With the donations received through the Fund, GoFundMe.org will issue grants to trusted AAPI organizations working to rectify the racial inequalities in our society."
Asian American Federation on GoFundMe: "Established in 1989, AAF's mission is to raise the well-being of the pan-Asian American community. They are a New York city based nonprofit leadership organization that represents and supports a network of 70 nonprofits which serve low-/moderate-income households through programs in health & human services, education, economic development, civic participation, and social justice."
Community Action Fund by Hate Is a Virus: "We are raising $1 million to give back to local and national community organizations that are providing pivotal services and programs for our community. This includes programs related to mental health, better protections for our elderly, AAPI representation, solidarity-building and more."
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta: "The first and only nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) in Georgia and the Southeast."
Beyond donations, you can be mindful of where you're spending your hard-earned money and shop Asian-founded brands.
"Something that's very huge and important to me is -- particularly during this time, but always has been -- is to wear pieces that support small, locally-owned businesses, particularly ones that have Asian designers," Lana Condor told ET. "To wear clothes that I feel emotionally connected with and emotionally connected with the designers and the way that they were made."
May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which celebrates the contributions and influences of the Asian community. To capture the current state of representation in entertainment, ET Online will be spotlighting Asian performers and projects all month long.