May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage (AAPI) Month. The month of May was chosen by Congress to commemorate both the arrival of the first known Japanese immigrant to the U.S. (on May 7, 1843), and to honor the approximately 20,000 Chinese workers who helped to construct the Transcontinental Railroad (completed on May 10, 1869). The month pays tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched the United States’ history and are instrumental in its future successes.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, however, Asian Americans are incurring racially-motivated ridicule and hatred—and in some instances, violence—than in previous years. According to a Stop AAPI Hate news release, from March 2020 through the end of 2020, they have received a total of 3,292 complaints about such confrontations from all 50 states and Washington, DC (Chavez).
This violence has continued into 2021. Many of these incidents are taking place in businesses and on public streets, in broad daylight (Chavez). In January, President Joe Biden signed an executive order denouncing anti-Asian discrimination (Lang). On April 22, with an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote, the Senate passed a bill designed to address hate crimes against AAPI people related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would designate a point person at the Department of Justice to review hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and provide additional support for the state and local law enforcement agencies responding to hate crimes in real time (Becker). The bill goes on to the House, where it will likely pass.
The IAM stands and fights for solidarity and unity not only in the workplace but in the community as well. We stand together with our brothers and sisters and call for an end to hate crimes. The IAM works with constituency groups like Asian Pacific Labor Alliance (APALA) to help ensure that not only the rights of Asian Pacific Americans are being met—in both the workplace and in society at large—but also that all injustice and social inequality are being challenged. To learn more about APALA, visit their website at https://www.apalanet.org/.
Becker, Amanda (04/2021), “Senate Democrats set vote on bill to address Asian American hate crimes,” https://19thnews.org/2021/04/covid-19-hate-crimes-act/
Chavez, Nicole (03/18/2021), “Asian Americans reported being targeted at least 500 times in the last two months,” https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/16/us/asian-americans-hate-incidents-report/index.html
Lang, Cady (02/18/2021), “Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Are on the Rise. Many Say More Policing Isn’t the Answer,” https://time.com/5938482/asian-american-attacks/
Becker, Amanda, (n.d.) “How Sens. Mazie Hirono and Susan Collins worked across the aisle to pass a bill on anti-AAPI hate crimes -The work of the two lawmakers resulted in a rare vote that was overwhelmingly bipartisan”, https://19thnews.org/2021/04/collins-hirono-anti-aapi-hate-crime/