To my U Beauty Family,
Today, March 26, marks #StopAsianHate Virtual Day of Action and Healing. It’s a day I admittedly wouldn’t have known about say, just over 12 months ago but one that’s been a long time coming. On March 26 over 200 years ago, the Naturalization Act of 1790 was signed into law; it was limited to “free white persons.” It wasn’t until 1952 when the racial restriction against Asians was lifted.
As you probably know, in the past year, there’s been a staggering rise in violence against Asian Americans: an incomprehensible 1,900%, and 90% have gone unreported. The New York City Hate Crimes Task Force recorded eight times as many investigated incidents in 2020 than they did in 2019. Statistics show that 54% of Asian American teens are bullied in school (compared to 38% of their Black peers, 34% of Latino peers and 31% of their white peers). According to the PEW Research Center, 76% of Asian Americans report personally experiencing discrimination, yet at 6.5% of the population, we make up the fastest-growing minority demographic in the United States (one in 10 of whom are frontline workers, while 20% of U.S. physicians are Asian American).
The mass shooting in Atlanta that killed eight innocent people, six of them Asian women, on March 16 has served as an unthinkable culmination, not just a year of accelerating violence but decades of discrimination.
We have long been the silent minority who don’t like drawing attention to ourselves. In the face of racism and abuse, our parents told us to keep our heads down and work harder to prove our worthiness.
But we can’t let ourselves be silenced, misrepresented and stereotyped anymore. It starts with admitting the reality and then saying, “Let’s change the narrative here.” Reversing the anti-Asian sentiment requires dismantling longstanding stereotypes and generalizations.
At this point, to be quiet is to be complicit. It’s time for all of us to hold ourselves accountable, which means being actively anti-racist. If you’re not sure how, here are ways to do so: Change starts with conversation, so initiate dialogue to shed light on what’s going on. Share our stories, highlight our experience and bring awareness. Be a proactive ally and be outspoken. Speak up when you see or hear anti-Asian racism on social media, in the media and, of course, in real life. Support Chinatowns and Asian-owned businesses: Every little bit counts. And think about the people providing your beauty services: In New York State alone, one out of four Asian immigrants live in poverty and many of the people who work hard to beautify us are in that low-income group.
There are a number of organizations helpful for those who want to learn more and get involved. Stop AAPI Hate is a national coalition addressing anti-Asian hate crime during the pandemic, and their Instagram account (@StopAAPIHate) serves as a strong resource. organizations doing their part, like NAPAWF, which focuses solely on empowering Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls to influence their communities and they have a presence in 13 cities across the country. NQAPIA is a national federation of LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations focused on promoting visibility and eradicating prejudice. And Asian Americans Advancing Justice is an affiliation of organizations that advocate for Asian American civil and human rights.
It’s only with an all-inclusive approach that we can enact change: Hate affects everyone, not just the Asian American Pacific Islander community, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Let’s usher in a movement of empathy and compassion. It’s so important that we don’t point fingers right now and emphasize education rather than blame. Now is the time to be constructive, not destructive, and we’re just getting started.
Tina Chen Craig