A shadow hangs over Lunar New Year after a chain of violent attacks towards Asian communities coast-to-coast, including incidents in Oakland, San Leandro, San Francisco and San Jose. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been an escalation in xenophobia and violence directed against Asian American communities, prompting the creation of an organization at the start of the pandemic called Stop AAPI Hate to collect data on hate crimes. In 2020, the organization documented over 2,800 hate incidents, one-quarter of which occurred in the Bay Area. Two months into 2021, a surge of robberies and violent attacks against Asian Americans has made many local residents afraid to leave their homes, especially the elderly. These incidents have also created a new level of struggle for small businesses, particularly because Lunar New Year marks a time of celebration and social activity.
East Bay EDA stands in solidarity with victims, survivors, families, and businesses who have suffered loss, violence and discrimination during this time. It was not long ago when the term “Asian American” was born here in the East Bay, where a new generation of political activists at UC Berkeley opposing the Vietnam War and supporting the Farmworkers, Free Speech and Civil Rights movements, coined a new political identity to show solidarity among different people of Asian ancestry experiencing discrimination, harassment and prejudice in the United States. By the late 1960s, the first Ethnic Studies departments in the nation’s history were founded at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University. This spirit of advocacy, reform and unity has made the East Bay a place for social progress and inclusivity then, now and in the future.
As we continue to struggle with the many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that we come together to end behaviors and practices that cause racial violence and invest in long-term community-centered solutions in which all our residents can feel safe and thrive. We invite you to join us in welcoming the Year of the Ox by frequenting Oakland Chinatown and Asian-owned businesses, report instances of anti-Asian assault, as well as get involved and support community-based organizations working to provide services and support to Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities.
Here is a sampling of East Bay organizations supporting our Asian American & Pacific Islander communities:
- AAPI Women Lead – working to end the intersections of violence against and within communities.
- Asian Health Services – provides health services, including mental health, for all regardless of income, insurance, immigration status, language, or culture.
- AYPAL – empowers low-income API immigrant and refugee families to be leaders for school reform and neighborhood change
- East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation – provides affordable housing and neighborhood essential services through a Healthy Neighborhoods Approach
- Oakland Chinatown Chamber – promotes and advocates for Oakland Chinatown businesses