White House, lawmakers mark start of AAPI heritage month, as US sees rise in Asian hate crimes

Peter Aitken
·2 min read

Republicans and Democrats are voicing support for the Asian community amid a spike in hate crimes, as the White House hails the start of Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.

President Biden issued a proclamation Friday recognizing "the history and achievements of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders across our nation."

"In the midst of a difficult year of pain and fear, we reflect on the tradition of leadership, resilience, and courage shown by AANHPI communities, and recommit to the struggle for AANHPI equity," the proclamation read.

"We also celebrate and honor the invaluable contributions the AANHPI communities have made to our Nation's culture and the arts, law, science and technology, sports and public service -- including the courageous AANHPIs who have served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as health care providers, first responders, teachers, and other essential workers," the statement added.

The White House also highlighted Vice President Kamala Harris for her achievements, including the fact that she is the first person of South Asian descent to hold the office.

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Most importantly, the proclamation noted the "heightened fear" in the Asian American community.

"Our Nation continues to grieve the senseless killings of six women of Asian descent in Atlanta, and the unconscionable acts of violence victimizing our beloved Asian American seniors in cities across the country," the proclamation read.

The support comes amid increasing violence against the Asian community.

A study published in March found that nearly 3,800 incidents of racism against Asian Americans had occurred in the previous year – including the shooting of several Asian women at a number of Atlanta massage parlors.

The Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center cited spikes in violence against Asian Americans across the country.

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"The number of hate incidents reported to our center represents only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur, but it does show how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination, and the types of discrimination they face," the authors of the Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center’s study said.

Support from congressional leaders, then, is a welcome gesture.

The Republican Party tweeted an acknowledgment, saying, "Today we kick off Asian Pacific American Heritage Month to honor the history, culture, and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States."

Democrats similarly tweeted an acknowledgment, stating, "This month is an opportunity not only to celebrate the invaluable contributions of the AAPI community … but to rededicate ourselves to ending anti-Asian harassment and violence."

Young Kim, a Korean American and freshman Republican representative from California’s 39th District, said Saturday: "Millions of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders are making a difference in #CA39 & across the nation & are making this country a better place."

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"I join the nation … in committing to do my part to lift up AAPI voices & be a strong voice for our community," she added.