SAINT PAUL — In response to the growing tide of anti-Asian bigotry in the public sphere and the continuing impact of COVID-19 in hard-hit Asian Pacific American communities, prominent state and local Asian American elected officials — including Fue Lee (member, Minnesota House of Representatives), David Chiu (member, California State Assembly), Yuh-Line Niou (member, New York State Assembly), Sharon Tomiko Santos (member, Washington House of Representatives) and Michelle Wu (member, Boston City Council) — have gathered together with over 50 grassroots and civil rights organizations and leaders to launch, “Rise: Asian Pacific America,” a series of four virtual town halls that seek to confront the significant issues facing APA communities in the wake of COVID-19.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Asian Pacific Americans have experienced xenophobic hostilities directed their way. No one deserves to be targeted with threats, harassment, and violence based on their cultural background, especially during a public health crisis,” said Rep. Lee (DFL – Minneapolis). “Furthermore, by relying on terms like ‘Chinese Virus,’ the President of the United States has deliberately given rise to anti-Asian hatred. As Minnesotans, and as Americans, we have a duty to stand up against bigotry of any kind. These events will give us an opportunity to collectively overcome barriers as we chart our future as a community.”
In these virtual town halls, the lawmakers, who represent some of the largest and hardest-hit Asian Pacific American communities in the nation, will engage in thoughtful and provocative dialogue with prominent activists, policymakers, academics and artists and at-home audiences to address present challenges, historical context and the path forward to a future beyond this pandemic.
The goal is to uplift diverse experiences and voices from around the country; highlight ways for individuals to get involved in local, regional and national efforts; build and amplify our collective national voice; encourage fundraising support of organizations involved in advocacy, civil rights, and support of hate crime victims; and frame next steps for the future of Asian Pacific American communities.
The sessions will take place online at 7 p.m. CT, as follows:
MAY 8 — Rise APA: The State of Asian America Today
The necessary context of this conversation, and an overview by diverse voices of the present situation across the country — hate crimes, anti-Asian sentiment and communities struck both by COVID-19 and the virus of racism. With guests Viet Thanh Nguyen (Pulitzer Prize winner for The Sympathizer), Jenny Yang (writer and comedian), Cynthia Choi (Chinese for Affirmative Action and Stop Anti-AAPI Hate), Dale Minami (Minami Tamaki LLP and lead counsel for Korematsu v. United States) and Bo Thao-Urabe (Coalition of Asian American Leaders and former Obama appointee to the White House Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders).
MAY 15 — Rise APA: Our History, Our Roots
A conversation with policy-based, academic and activist voices on the larger historical context of anti-Asian discrimination. Is what’s happening familiar from a big-picture perspective? How has harm against our community manifested in the past? Guests to be announced.
MAY 22 — Rise APA: Getting Back to Better
What does relief and recovery from this pandemic look like, both socially and economically? What do our communities and vital institutions need at this time, to come back from its direct impact, to reframe the narrative about who we are as a people, and to ensure resilience in future crises? Guests to be announced.
MAY 29 — Rise APA: Reaching Beyond Our Community
Next steps for the future: How do we build organizational infrastructure across our APA communities and coalition build with others? What do we need to do to strategically plan for a future where we aren’t just responding to threats, but leading toward solutions? Guests to be announced.
Individuals may register for the series and find more information at www.riseapa.org.