Ocampo: How to support the AAPI community this month

Aidan Ocampo, Assistant Opinion Editor

Every year, the United States recognizes May as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month — an opportunity to celebrate the cultures, narratives and histories of the AAPI community. However, this year’s AAPI Heritage Month requires greater action to address the anti-Asian hate that has continued to persist year after year. 

Since last May, the AAPI community has seen a significant rise in the number of hate crimes and anti-Asian sentiment. However, the rise of AAPI hate cannot be reduced to the acts of violence that make it to mainstream headlines. Hostility toward Asians presents itself in even the most basic interactions that occur on a daily basis. This month provides an opportunity not only to prevent further violence towards Asians, but also to consider our individual role in eliminating these hateful attitudes.

Here are some actions you can take to help heal the AAPI community:

1. Take time to check in on your AAPI peers, relatives and co-workers. This simple gesture can provide tremendous support during a time when those in the AAPI community may feel alone. It is likely that you are the only person to do this so it will have a significant impact on the sanity of these individuals.

2. If you witness or notice anti-Asian sentiment at any time, take action and confront it. The AAPI community is depending on you to hold each other accountable for preventing further harm to the community. Anti-Asian sentiment is not limited to overt expressions of hate, but can also take the form of microaggressions. In these scenarios, it is especially imperative to take action as a bystander by intervening and reporting incidents to sites like these

3. If you have the financial flexibility, donate to AAPI organizations like Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Asian Mental Health Collective and more. Any contribution will have a meaningful impact.

4. Educate yourself. Seek informed resources that amplify Asian voices and recount the history of anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. Asian narratives are often overlooked, excluded, or devalued in American culture. They are also generalized. The experiences of Asians are reflective of the diversity of the Asian continent — a vast expanse of innumerable cultures that cannot be simplified to a single Asian experience. Now is a valuable opportunity to provide a platform for a wide range of Asian experiences to be appreciated and heard. 

5. Support Asian-owned local businesses. During the pandemic, Asian-owned businesses in the U.S. faced some staggering economic challenges compared to other marginalized communities. If you have the means, these businesses are in desperate need of support from their communities.

Although May allows us to focus on healing the AAPI community, our attention and care towards these communities cannot only occur during this month. In order to truly be dismantled, these systemic issues require our efforts throughout the entirety of the year and years to come. AAPI Heritage Month is simply further reason to celebrate Asian cultures and disassemble anti-Asian structures. 

Aidan Ocampo is a Weinberg freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.