Stories of Community, Stories of Resistance: Revisiting AAPI Heritage Month

AAPI Civic Engagement Fund

In May, stories of resistance and joy were shared during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month [#AAPIPower Storytelling Project]. We not only honor the achievements and contributions of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities but we are also reminded of the ongoing fight for liberation and resources across the United States in these communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the deep injustices communities of color face in the United States impacted by xenophobia, racism, colonialism, and capitalism. In 2020 we saw an uptick in Anti-Asian violence and discrimination, with women and girls, in particular, reporting these incidences two times more often.

AANHPI-led reproductive justice organizations have been on the front lines responding to the spike of racist and sexist violence targeting Asian communities across the nation this year by taking it to the streets and demanding a stop to Anti-Asian violence. From the Black/Asian solidarity rallies that took place in cities like Oakland, New York City, and Georgia to organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta who played a major role in voter engagement by organizing one of the largest voter turnout blocks for the 2020 elections. And yet, according to Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, only 0.2 percent of domestic grantmaking is given to AAPI communities.

While the discrimination that AANHPI communities face is different from other communities of color, many of their struggles have been ignored or minimized. The “model minority myth” is steeped in stereotypes and was constructed to divide and place a racial barrier between communities of color. This myth also undervalues the diverse experiences of AANHPI communities. Around 12% of Asian American communities live in poverty and the percentage is even higher for Southeast Asian communities.

As a leading funder of women of color- and transgender and gender non-conforming people of color-led organizations, one of our core priorities is resourcing organizing against our largest collective threat: white supremacy. Conservatives have long attempted to stoke mistrust and hate between AANHPI communities and other Black and Brown communities. These tensions have historically driven wedges between our communities, seeking to keep us divided and distracted. At Groundswell, we wholeheartedly reject that division and are strongly backing POC-led organizations that are demonstrating solidarity.

For example, Groundswell’s long-time Catalyst Fund and Integrated Voter Engagement program grantee, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is working to shift the narrative by mobilizing and empowering AANHPI women and girls to create social, political, and economic change. The organization and its members also show up in solidarity with other women of color who are experiencing injustice, oppression, and marginalization. [Read How Data, Language Accessibility, & Consistent Engagement Turn Out the Vote]

During the start of the pandemic, Desis Rising Up and Moving (New York), a Liberation Fund grantee, quickly transformed its organizing and outreach to virtual and shifted its priorities, especially around the 2020 Census. As its community members struggled with unemployment, lack of healthcare, and financial and housing insecurity, DRUM modified the focus of its outreach to find out what people needed to get through the crisis, helping them access unemployment benefits, food, and money, and deal with immigration status challenges. DRUM’s advocacy at the New York City Council focused on defunding the NYPD, supporting rent and tenant strikes and actions, demanding financial support for people not included in the federal CARES Act, and advocating for state-level rent cancellation.

Freedom, Inc.

There is no true fight against anti-Asian racism that does not also include a fight against anti-Blackness. Solidarity across all lines of race, class, and gender is essential. White supremacy is our common enemy; collective liberation is our ultimate goal. [Read our statement on the Chauvin Trial here]

Get to know some of our grantee organizations across the U.S. focusing on Black/Asian solidarity:

Freedom, Inc
New Virginia Majority (GAF)
AAPI Civil Engagement Fund
Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

We support a stronger movement for reproductive and gender justice. Read more at www.groundswellfund.org