SAPHA - South Asian Public Health Association - logo
SAPHA - South Asian Public Health Association - logo

Statement on AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate

SAPHA Marks Sixth Annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate

On May 18, 2024, anti-bullying nonprofit Act To Change is rallying the nation in commemorating the sixth Annual National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Day Against Bullying and Hate. SAPHA is committed to ending bullying and hate in the AAPI community and is proud to join over 100 organizations and over 40 cities, states and jurisdictions in this movement.

Act To Change’s commemoration on May 18 is part of Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month and marks the birthday of Vincent Chin. In 1982, Chin was falsely blamed for the layoffs in the auto industry, and brutally murdered in a racial hate crime. He lost his life simply because he was Asian. Chin’s death launched the modern Asian American movement, and we’re proud to join Act To Change in continuing this movement.

America has a longstanding history of anti-AANHPI racism and violence, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese American internment camps, colonization of Hawaiian islands, post 9/11 stereotyping, COVID-19 fueled hate crimes, and the use of the harmful “model minority” myth. Additionally, the "Communities on Fire" report by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) documented a significant rise in hate violence, with 302 incidents targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities from 2016 to 2017—a 45% increase from the previous year, predominantly fueled by anti-Muslim sentiment. Throughout history, AAPIs are continually portrayed as the “perpetual foreigner” and AAPI youth grow up feeling the need to prove their Americanness. Queer children - especially trans, nonbinary and two-spirit youth - also often feel the need to hide or change their identities for safety and a sense of belonging. In SAPHA's paper, "Health Implications of Racialized State Violence Against South Asians in the USA," we highlighted how factors such as appearance, accent, speech, attire, and behaviors can contribute to perceptions of difference, significantly contributing to discrimination against South Asians. The paper also links bullying among South Asian youth to broader themes of racism and xenophobia, noting that nearly half of South Asians experience microaggressions like stereotypes of terrorism and assumptions of inferiority, significantly more than their white counterparts.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a staggering rise in verbal and physical violence against people of AAPI descent, with nearly 11,500 incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate. The most vulnerable communities, including youth and elders, bore the brunt of this violence, and AAPI youth continue to become targets of ridicule, social isolation and physical violence in schools. Cyberbullying is another worrying issue, contributing to low self-esteem, social anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. The Trevor Project reports that 40% of AAPI LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide.

The National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate is a celebration of AAPI youth. AAPI youth continue to organize within their schools and communities, and fight bullying with awareness, art, creativity and compassion for each other. Act To Change’s Youth Ambassadors and Homeroom Anti-Bullying Workshop participants lead exceptional programming and workshops among their peers. AAPI youth grow up to become exceptional leaders, and inspire the nation.

We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community, and publicly denounce all forms of bullying and hate. We invite you to join us and Act To Change in our collective movement against bullying and hate.
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