A pair of nonprofits in California launched a campaign designed to protect Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth from discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program, known as Stand Up for AAPI Youth During COVID
— or simply Stand Up for AAPI Youth — specifically aims to address discrimination in schools, which often come in the form of bullying.
The new campaign was developed in response to the growing number of hate crimes reported by the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate, which totaled to 2,583 cases most recently
Stand Up for AAPI Youth launched last week with the support of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Andrew Yang and other prominent AAPI individuals. It offers schools a toolkit that includes lesson plans tackling issues such as microaggressions, implicit biases, cultural appropriation and the model minority myth, to name a few.
“In this moment where there’s so many powerful forces trying to sell hate and division and engage in xenophobic rhetoric, we know the strength of unity,”
Harris said, according to NBC News
“We know the strength of lifting up our young leaders and doing everything we can to support them and their families. So let’s keep doing it,” she added.
A second-grade Zoom class in Orange County made headlines in April after a male student said, “I don’t like China or Chinese people because they started this quarantine.” This upset a Chinese American girl in the class.
“This made me feel sad because he’s my friend and I’m Chinese. When you say that you don’t like Chinese people, you’re saying that you do not like me. I did not start this virus. Thank you for being my friend,”
the girl said in a handwritten note, which her mother then shared
In worse cases, discrimination goes beyond words to become incidents of physical assault. Before public schools in Los Angeles shut down in mid-March, bullies accused a 16-year-old of having the coronavirus simply because he was Asian. That student ended up in the emergency room
“We absolutely are worried about the bullying of students and how it may dramatically increase,”
said Rita Pin Ahrens, executive director of OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates in Washington, D.C., according to WebMD Health News
Aside from offering lesson plans in schools, Know Your Classmates, as part of the campaign, will work in partnership with CYC and other civil rights organizations to prepare a set of national calls to action. One of them is to “encourage students in all schools across the country to take a pledge to get to know and stand up for their AAPI classmates.”
For more information about the campaign, head over here