Dear Friends of Radiant Futures,
The month of May marked Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time when we celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of AAPIs to the fabric of our community. However, this year’s commemoration comes at a time when we are witnessing a drastic increase in hate crimes, discrimination, and violent acts against the AAPI community.
In the past few months alone, we have seen so many hate crimes against Asians here in Orange County. In Seal Beach, a recent widow living in a retirement community received a racist letter from a neighbor following the death of her husband that read: “Now that Byong [her husband] is gone makes it one less Asian to put up with in Leisure World.” There was also the unprovoked assault of a 69-year old Asian man in Irvine as he was walking his dog at a park. And even here in Fullerton, a 28-year old man has been charged with a hate crime after throwing rocks at an Asian woman and her 6-year old son. All of this comes right after the tragic murders of eight people in Atlanta, many of whom were Asian women.
Although this recent rise in hate crimes may be rooted in the scapegoating of Asian Americans for the COVID-19 public health crisis, we must remember that racism against AAPI communities is deeply entrenched in American history. It is often overlooked and made invisible by the normalization of anti-Asian rhetoric and the harmful misconception that Asians are the “model minority.” This invisibility is still prominent today. In fact, upon listening to NPR the other day, I learned that in a recent survey of 2,766 U.S. residents, a full 42% of respondents were unable to name a prominent Asian American, choosing instead to leave the question blank. No response was the top answer, followed by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee.
To this end, Radiant Futures is committed to empowering the AAPI community. Not only by taking a stand against racial injustice, but by actively reexamining our own efforts as an organization as we work with survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking.
I am eager to start working with the team to develop a new community engagement ethos that prioritizes our outreach efforts to the AAPI communities who tend not to reach out and receive our services. I look forward to seeing our progress in this priority in the years ahead.