On May 16, 2021, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) sponsored an important virtual panel discussion about the epidemic of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the need for allyship.

The program was another installment of NJPAC’s Standing in Solidarity, a series of initiatives and events promoting racial equality and social justice. The series was launched in June of 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd to offer greater understanding of current racial disparities, as well as offer a forum for learning about the actions all citizens can take to advance the causes of equality and justice.

NJPAC’s Social Justice Planning Task Force recognized that the resurgence of anti-AAPI violence was a critical issue to discuss and there was a dire need to help the broader community understand how they can become allies in the fight against this surging injustice. The panel was convened just as the results of a survey conducted by a new nonprofit, Leading Asian Americans to Unite for Change (LAAUNCH), found that 80 percent of Asian Americans “don’t feel respected and say they are discriminated against by their fellow Americans.”

I believe the suggestions for building allyship offered by the speakers are very important to share. These are actions we all can take to better understand each other and to stop anti-AAPI violence, and include the following:

  • Learn more about the community’s history. A great place to begin is with the PBS series on Asian-American history.
  • Be sure to include discussions of AAPI in diversity and inclusion training.
  • Take the online bystander intervention training.
  • Build bridges, recognizing that coalition building takes time.
  • Look broadly at all facets of white supremacy and how it has impacted all communities of color.

Read the full article about how the art world is combatting anti-AAPI violence by Ms. Donna Walker-Kuhne at Americans for the Arts.