Members of the AAPI community and elected officials celebrated Thursday after receiving a $20 million investment to combat anti-Asian hate while also going to fund supportive services.
Senator John Liu, AssemblyMember Yuh-line Niou, Senator Brian Kavanagh, and AssemblyMember Zohran Mamdani joined outside 1 Centre Street to begin AAPI heritage month with what the group is touting as a big victory thanks to the $20 million allocation.
“We all know that these last couple of years have been terrible, terrible for the pandemic, but also as members of the AAPI community. It’s been terrible because of the hate and bigotry that we have seen, a level to which we have never seen before and the pandemic really brought out some of the most difficult challenges and ordeals faced by many in our community,” Senator Liu said.
Becoming targets of xenophobic hate crimes following the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian females and seniors often bore the brunt of baseless, violent anger. This led to pedestrians, who were simply going to work or the supermarket, to be brutally attacked and even killed. However, with this funding set to be added to the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget, they say they can begin to fight back.
“When I first joined the assembly, there was no Asian Pacific American Task Force. There was no conversation about the needs of Asian Americans. In fact, back then, there was not even a single line item in the budget dedicated to our community’s needs,” AssemblyMember Niou said. “We have fought and fought every year since and this year we are seeing the biggest results yet after years of fighting. This year the budget doubles the amount of resources available to support our boots on the ground community organizations providing culturally sensitive mental health care, community development, language services, and social services across the state.”
Speakers believe the funding was obtained thanks to the efforts of the AAPI Equity Budget Coalition formed earlier in 2022. The money is set to supply and support programs and services for the AAPI community as well as educational curriculum designed for students in pre-K through 12th grade. Additionally, cash will be allotted to crime prevention and the creation of an AAPI State Commission, which would serve to advise the governor’s office on the needs of the AAPI community and examine critical issues like language access among state agencies, departments, and commissions.
“Too often, Asian communities are only recognized in death. Today, New York State takes a first step towards rectifying that. With this $20 million in state funding, our budget is finally moving towards a full recognition of the needs of our community as we still live and breathe, and the needs of the community organizations that safeguard, support, and strengthen us along the way,” State Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani said.