The COVID-19 pandemic has both exposed and aggravated large-scale social issues; the increase in hate crimes against the Asian American community marks one of the most striking examples.
In the United States, the first few months of the pandemic saw more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans—a number that continues to rise as the pandemic endures. Stop AAPI Hate reported 6,603 incidents between March 2020 and March 2021. Likewise, the New York City Police Department reported hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in New York City were up 363% in the past year.
The surge in hate crimes has spawned new support as both public and private entities step up to take action against Asian hate, opening greater opportunities for impact investors to effect positive change.
Heightened Awareness Promotes Government and Private Action
At the national level, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in May 2021 to direct the expedited review of hate crimes related to the pandemic, as well as enhance public outreach and ensure online reporting resources are available in multiple languages.
California’s budget recently allocated $156 million to support hate incident victims and survivors, data collection, and ethnic media outreach. The budget also reserved $10 million each for Stop AAPI Hate, the University of California, and media outlets serving specific ethnic groups.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamon created the Connecticut Hate Crimes Advisory Council in June 2021 to help raise community awareness, encourage reporting for hate crimes, and recommend new laws regarding compensation for victims.
Private Efforts Aim to Stop Asian Hate
On May 20, 2021, Asian American business and philanthropic participants announced the largest-ever philanthropic commitment entirely focused on the Asian American community. This private funding of more than $1 billion will be used to stop Asian hate and advance research and public education on Asian American communities.
May also saw the launch of the Asian American Foundation by a group of prominent Asian Americans in order to increase visibility and support for the third-largest demographic in the US. The organization raised $125 million in commitments from founding board members with an additional $900 million in pledges from 56 corporate entities, 28 individuals or couples, some anonymous donors, and 13 foundations, including $150 million from the Ford Foundation.
Wells Fargo Awards $1 Million to Support Asian Americans
Wells Fargo also awarded $1 million in grants to four organizations that support the Asian American community and small businesses:
- National ACE offers a number of programs designed to help Asian American small businesses.
- OCA provides tools for identity, leadership, and advocacy development.
- USPAACC supports Pan Asian Americans and their related groups in business, sciences, the arts, sports, education, and public and community services.
- AAJC advocates for civil and human rights for Asian Americans.
These funds join the organization’s already continuous support for the Asian American community through financial education, college scholarships, small business help, in-language services, and the support of Asian-focused nonprofit organizations. Included in this effort is a commitment by more than 100 companies such as Wells Fargo to a Five-Point Action Agenda to advocate for historically oppressed groups and raise awareness of the adverse impacts of COVID‑19.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans mark a long-standing issue, but the pandemic has exacerbated these concerns and heightened tensions anew for many. Individual and corporate investors can make a difference by bringing attention to the issue and investing in funds, businesses, and organizations that actively work to stop hate crimes and contribute toward progress for Asian Americans and communities of color.