Asians draw corporate support amid rising hate crimes

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Victoria Pickering | Flickr

Farah Javed

As Asian hate crimes increase across the United States, protests for legislation and federal accountability have broken out. Companies have backed these protestors and expressed support for the Asian community.

From 2019 to 2020, Asian hate crimes increased by 150% in mainly New York City and Los Angeles. They began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when incorrect political rhetoric from the Trump administration began referring to COVID-19 as “kung flu” or “China virus.”

Though Donald Trump’s presidency came to an end, the impact of using these racist terms incited discrimination across the country.

Before the shooting in Atlanta that killed eight Asian women, companies remained relatively silent on the issue. One of the first vocal supporters was Facebook Executive Eric Toda in February 2021.

“The model minority myth is killing us right now,” Toda said. “It continues to put us on a pedestal for being silent and being OK with being silent. It pits us against other minority communities,” he added.

Toda then called for other companies, especially advertising ones in the marketing industry like himself, to speak out against Asian hate crimes.

About a month later, several entertainment companies released statements on Twitter, answering Toda’s plea for help.

“Violence and hatred against Asians has no place in the world. Bethesda rejects racism in all forms and stands in solidarity with our Asian employees and the AAPI community. We will continue efforts within our organization and communities to help drive change. #StopAsianHate,” the video game company Bethesda Softworks LLC said.

Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc., a Tokyo-based video game company known for creating Pac- Man, expanded its support beyond employees, acknowledging how Asian hate crimes have largely targeted older members of the community.

“We stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, our culturally diverse and inclusive team of employees, players and fans from all cultures and backgrounds, our families, and especially our elders, to speak out and raise awareness against the terrible rise in anti-Asian aggression and hate crimes. #StopAsianHate,” the company wrote on Twitter.

In conjunction with these gaming companies, PlayStation announced that it would also donate to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit that tracks Asian hate crimes. Playstation, however, did not disclose how much it would donate.

Following the Atlanta shooting on March 16, companies became more vocal. 21-year-old Robert Long shot eight people at three different spas that day. Though police have not called the shootings a hate crime, many people believe that it was, since six of the victims were of Asian descent.

Immediately after the tragic events, under the name, Stand with Asian Americans, almost 1,000 Asian American business executives signed a letter pledging to donate $10 million toward getting justice for the Asian community.

The money will be allocated toward providing legal representation to victims of hate crimes and donating to organizations that help Asian women.

“To support Asian employees, we commit to creating and funding AAPI employee resource groups to ensure Asian employees, especially women who bear the brunt of the harassment, have a safe space to tell their stories, receive support and report discrimination without fear of retaliation,” the letter said.

Of 3,800 Asian hate crimes reported in 2020, 68% were against women.

The donations will also fund research to educate the public on Asian history in order to eradicate racism at its root.

In the corporate world, a conversation has begun addressing how Asians deal with what is called a bamboo ceiling. Similar to the concept of the glass ceiling, the bamboo ceiling is a term used to describe how Asians face barriers when it comes to promotions.

The executives that signed the letter, like CEO and founder of Zoom Video Communications Inc. Eric Yuan and Walmart Inc. Executive Vice President Anthony Soohoo, may be in high-ranking positions, but it is important to note that lack of Asian leadership in the United States is the norm.

For instance, reporting by Bloomberg in 2018 revealed that New York banks lacked Asian leadership.

“In one example, Goldman Sachs reported a 27% Asian American workforce overall, but only 11% of U.S. executives and senior managers were of Asian descent. There were no executive officers of Asian descent,” according to Today.

Today also noted that the federal workplace does not have Asians in top-level positions.

“A 2016 report found Asian Americans made up 5.8% of the federal professional workforce but only 3.5% made it to the senior level,” Today reported.

The bamboo ceiling is especially felt by Asian women, who are doubly discriminated against for their ethnic background and gender.

“Asian American women are the demographic group most likely to have graduate degrees, [but] they are the least likely to hold positions within three reporting levels of the CEO or to have line or supervisory responsibilities,” according to Forbes.

The executives’ letter also touches upon how the issue of Asian hate crimes does not solely affect that community.

“We no longer want to see photos of bruised and battered Asian seniors with GoFundMe links asking for support. It is critical that we also acknowledge that the violence we are experiencing has been the daily reality for our Black, Latinx, Indigenous and LGBTQ communities,” the letter said.

Other companies have also taken up the mantle of minority solidarity.

The New York Life Insurance Company signed a pledge to continue to ask CEOs across the United States to help fight against the racism Asian Americans are facing. That pledge was created through the cooperation of the Asian American Business Development Center, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Black Chambers.

In response to the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, the Bank of America Corporation announced a racial equality program, which indicated the bank’s commitment “to spend $1 billion over four years to help “advance racial equality and economic opportunity” to people of color.”

The program was specifically geared toward Black and Hispanic populations. Following the shootings in Atlanta and surge of hate crimes, Bank of America announced it would expand the program to Asians.page3image59398720

It will allot “$1 million toward supporting the Asian American community through “increased advocacy, dialogue and engagement,” including a grant to the nonprofit civil rights organization, Asian Americans Advancing Justice,” according to Forbes.

Even as Asian Americans’ struggles are being aired on television and reported on, they continue to endure discrimination through racially motivated attacks, graffiti of their property and even people destroying their business’ credibility on Yelp.

Though donations and support from corporations to organizations fighting for protection against racism are helpful, it needs to be coupled with education in order to erase hurtful rhetoric and stereotypes from the public dialogue.

With companies and minority groups standing united, the possibility remains for a more equal and far less discriminatory future.