By Gilda Balan, Correspondent
A recent report from the California Department of Justice (DOJ) states that hate crimes against this segment of US society has dropped dramatically since last year, but civil rights advocates insist the data presented does not accurately reflect the threats the Asian-American community faces on a day-to-day basis.
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community leaders say the data presented shows a severe undercount.
California’s Justice department says hate crimes against the community dropped by 43 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year.
Last year, the DOJ counted 140 hate crimes against Asian Americans compared to 247 in 2021. Overall, however, there was a 20 percent rise in hate crimes against various minorities, including African Americans and the LGBTQ community, from 1,763 in 2021 to 2,120 in 2022.
The web portal Stop AAPI Hate reports that there were more than 11,000 acts of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Filipinos and FilAms included) since March 2020. The crimes include discrimination, bullying, harassment, shunning, or assault. A good number of the acts of discrimination may be civil rights violations that go unreported just the same.
A later report says more than half of AAPIs have experienced some form of discrimination.
Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manju Kulkarni told Ethnic Media Services that she has not noted any decrease in the number of hate incidents reported to the portal since 2022.
She said, “The numbers reported to us have stayed pretty steady.”
Kulkarni says the community still lives in fear. “We have significant concerns about the 2024 election in the current political landscape, and believe hate crimes and incidents will continue to be an issue,” she said.
So whether the number of hate crimes is going down or up, or staying steady, one thing experts agree on is that direct intervention programs at the community level are an effective means of addressing the issue.
In 2021, CA Governor Gavin Newsom introduced the $165 million API Equity Budget which allocates funding to community-based organizations and media. The budget aims to stem anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, at the same time changing the stereotyped narratives about the community.
This year, Newsom added $40 million to the Fund’s budget.
Kulkarni said direct intervention programs are now in full swing and “we are beginning to see the impact of the grant.”
Furthermore, a survey that Stop AAPI Hate undertook in tandem with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that the AAPI community trusts community-based organizations most.
Thus, “funding is critical for intervention and prevention,” said Kulkarni.
With the problem of Asian hate still remaining, any and every attempt to end the scourge can only be considered a good thing. Public sector funding may be one of the best ways yet.