Anti-Asian hate crimes are skyrocketing in the U.S. Here's what we can all do to help.

In countries throughout Asia, people ring in the Lunar New Year with cultural traditions as diverse as Asian people themselves. From China to Vietnam to Malaysia to South Korea—and in communities of people of Asian descent around the world—families gather to celebrate, pay homage to ancestors, and welcome in the blessings of a new year.

This year, however, such celebrations in the U.S. are impacted not only by the upheaval of the ongoing pandemic, but by fear in the wake of skyrocketing violence against people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

Hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders (AAPI) have been highlighted by advocacy groups since early in the pandemic, but have not received the broad media coverage they deserve. Unfortunately, it's taken vicious attacks on elders in the AAPI community to get the nation's attention.


Last week, the death of an 84-year-old Thai man who was violently tackled in his driveway shone a spotlight on the issue in the Bay Area, where a spate of attacks has erupted in recent months. A video of a 91-year-old man being violently shoved to the ground in Oakland prompted actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu to offer a reward of $25,000 to anyone who could help identify the attacker. (It turned out police already had him in custody as a suspect for other similar attacks.) A 64-year-old Vietnamese grandmother was assaulted and robbed of $1000 while walking to her car in San Jose last week as well, and Chinatown businesses have been hit by an alarming increase in robberies.

Amanda Nguyễn, CEO and founder of the civil rights organization Rise, shared a plea on Instagram for people to raise awareness about the increase in anti-AAPI violence.

The heinous attacks in the Bay Area are making headlines, but violence and harassment are not just happening there, not just happening to the elderly, and not just happening now.

According to NYPD data reported in the Queens Chronicle in September, anti-Asain hate crimes had already increased 1900% from 2019 to 2020 before fall even hit. (In the same time period, anti-Jewish and anti-Black hate crimes in New York had decreased.) The Anti-Defamation League reported in June that there had been a "significant" number of reports of harassment and attacks against people in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, and the United Nations stated in October that hate crimes against Asian-Americans were happening at "alarming levels," citing 1800 incidents just from March to May of 2020.

Reading people's individual stories, it's clear that the vast majority of incidents include references to the COVID-19 pandemic. People blame Asian-Americans for the coronavirus—a xenophobic idea that has been inflamed by politicians who insist on calling it the "China virus" or "Kung flu." (That's not merely conjecture; Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council said that their data showed that the increase in racist and xenophobic attacks was "catalyzed by rhetoric from the president and other government leadership.")

The AAPI community needs every American of goodwill to step up, speak up, and act to put an end to these attacks. Here are some things everyone can do to help:

- Personally: If you see or hear someone using anti-AAPI language, say something. Don't let phrases like "China virus" or comments blaming AAPI for the pandemic go unchallenged. Commit to not being a passive bystander, but rather an active disrupter, of harassment when you see it. If you witness an incident, report it at stopaapihate.org.

- Socially: Get to know AAPI members of your community and listen to their concerns. Raise awareness by following and sharing the hashtag #StopAAPIHate on social media. Speak out about AAPI hate crimes and share positive stories about people from the AAPI community as well.

- Educationally: Seek out information about the kinds of discrimination people in the AAPI community face. Click on the links from this article or simply Google terms like "Anti-Asian" and "AAPI hate crimes." If you're a parent, teach your kids how to recognize when their peers are engaging in anti-Asian jokes or behavior and how to be an ally.

- Organizationally: Make sure your workplace and organizations you're a part of are committed to protecting AAPI members of your community from harassment. This PDF from the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance put together has specific action items employers and organizations can use as a guide.

- Monetarily: Buy from AAPI-owned businesses, many of which have suffered during the pandemic both from economic loss and discriminatory attacks. Support AAPI advocacy and anti-discrimination organizations such as iHollaback! (an anti-harassment organization that provides free bystander intervention training) or the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (a coalition of more than 100 organizations advocating for AAPI communities). Keep an eye out for crowdfunding efforts for individual victims of hate crimes.

- Democratically: Reach out to your local, state, and national government representatives to voice your support for the AAPI community and ask them to denounce xenophobic rhetoric in politics. Learn about the president's plan for the AAPI community and push him to take action on those commitments. Elevate the voices of elected officials from the AAPI community and those who speak up against anti-AAPI discrimination.

Let's all commit to creating a society in which everyone is uplifted and where all people can feel safe no matter who we are or where we come from.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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