Several Asian American public figures have come together to create a celebrity digital video campaign aimed at raising awareness about the dramatic rise in hate crimes against the Asian American community.
March 26 has been designated as the #StopAsianHate National Day of Action and Healing by Asian American Congressional leaders and civic organizations, marking the anniversary of the day the first U.S. law on naturalization – the Naturalization Act of 1790 – was enacted to limit citizenship only to “free, White persons.” The campaign is one of many initiatives taking place on March 26, including a Worldwide Vigil honoring the memory of the eight victims – six of them Asian American women – of the tragic mass shootings in Atlanta.
The launch was announced by Jess McLeod (Resident Director, Hamilton Chicago), Arianna Afsar (Singer/Actor, Hamilton/Netflix’s Wedding Season), Eric Keen-Louie (Producing Director – La Jolla Playhouse), and Lauren Yee (Playwright, Cambodian Rock Band), and the series was coordinated in collaboration with Parag Parikh (Director, South Asians for Biden) and playwright Stefani Kuo.
“We put the call out in grief and artists responded with action. We will use every platform at our disposal to provoke a national conversation to Stop Asian Hate and link arms with all those who are fighting white supremacy,” said McLeod.
According to the Center for Study of Hate & Extremism, despite the overall decrease in hate crimes, the number of hate crimes against Asians rose by 150% last year. A report from Stop AAPI Hate revealed nearly 3,800 incidents against Asian Americans – 68% of which were towards women – have taken place since the start of the pandemic on March 19, 2020.
The videos in the campaign give a voice to the victims of anti-Asian hate crimes and feature prominent AAPI figures, including Kelly Marie Tran, Constance Wu, MILCK, Lea Salonga, David Henry Hwang, Representative Grace Meng, Isa Briones, Jon Jon Briones, Jake Choi, Midori Francis, Daniel K. Isaac, Brooke Ishibashi, Adam Jacobs, Arielle Jacobs, Zoe Jensen, Francis Jue, Michelle Krusiec, Hoon Lee, C.S. Lee, Ken Leung, Paolo Montalban, Preston Mui, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Chef Nini Nguyen, Courtney Reed, Conrad Ricamora, Vincent Rodriguez III, George Salazar, Isabel Sandoval, Chantal Thuy, Tamlyn Tomita, Sam Tsui, Jenna Ushkowitz, Charlotte Mary Wen, Jeff Yang, and Hudson Yang.
“The previous administration used racially charged rhetoric to frame Asian Americans as ‘foreigners’ and ‘others’ and scapegoat our communities as the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeing the fallout of that rhetoric manifest through the escalation in verbal and physical assaults on our families and friends, especially against Asian women. The March 26 Day of Action is an opportunity for us to stand up for ourselves and our ancestors who worked hard and sacrificed to make America our home,” said Rep. Meng.
In an effort to expand awareness, McLeod and Afsar teamed up with Gingger Shankar (Composer, We Will Rise) and Erin Cook (VP, Jensen Communications) to get the support of South Asian artists to amplify the series. Shankar and Cookproduced and directed the South Asians for Biden celebrity digital video campaign last fall, in support of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“The Asian diaspora is incredibly diverse, representing nearly 50 countries and 2,300 languages. These differences can be manipulated to pit our communities against one another, but we cannot let that happen. Especially when it comes to matters of our collective equality, dignity, and safety,” said Shankar. “We stand united to Stop Asian Hate.”
For more information about local and national efforts to Stop Asian Hate and the March 26, 2021 Day of Action, visit www.asianamericandayofaction.com.