PHILADELPHIA – Following a string of recent attacks and other acts of hate against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community across the United States, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs, Mayor’s Commission on Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs, Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs, Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities, Philadelphia Commission for Women, Philadelphia Youth Commission, and Millennial Advisory Committee issued the following statement:
“In a year of xenophobic and intolerable racism triggered by fear associated with the coronavirus and exacerbated by the previous presidential administration, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities across the country experienced an exponential rise in acts of hate and violence. The racialized targeting of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is not new. We’ve seen the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the mass lynching of 18 Chinese men and boys outside of Los Angeles in 1871, the detention of 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans during World War II, and the unlawful targeting of South Asian and Muslim Americans after 9/11. We are reminded that the racism many are experiencing today is a reflection of old prejudices and scapegoating that have persisted throughout generations.
“On January 26, 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum recognizing the federal government’s role in furthering harmful sentiments directed at AAPI communities. The President, in his memorandum, also condemned racism, xenophobia, and other forms of hate targeting AAPI communities. He called on the federal government to proactively partner with state and local agencies to prevent discrimination, bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI individuals, and to expand the collection of data and public reporting regarding hate incidents against such individuals. We appreciate this change in tone at the federal level, but there is still much work to be done.
“Unfortunately, even here in Philadelphia, there have been verbal and physical attacks, as well as other displays of racism, directed at Asian Americans. In 2020, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) received 28 reports of acts of hate against members of the AAPI community—19 were confirmed as incidents of hate or bias, representing 34 percent of the 56 total hate or bias incidents confirmed by the agency. Just last week, we became aware of concerning reports regarding an offensively named dish—‘COVID Mac’—that seemed to have been listed on the menu of a local business. And while it appears that the item has since been removed, it is clear that pain has already been inflicted on Philadelphia’s Asian community by this and other incidents. Acts of racism in any form—explicit or implicit—cannot and will not be tolerated in Philadelphia. Such acts cause harm to our own AAPI community and contribute to the larger climate of xenophobia and intolerance, which goes against a multicultural society’s ability to build cohesion, mutual respect, and ultimately peace and prosperity.
“We want to use this opportunity to remind members of Philadelphia’s AAPI community about the resources available to them. If you are a victim of any crime, you should call 9-1-1 immediately to report it and get further assistance, such as medical attention and victim services. Interpretation is available when using 911 or any City services, and people have the right to receive these services in their own language. Members of the public can also report hate or bias incidents by contacting the PCHR at 215-686-4670 or firstname.lastname@example.org. These reports can be made anonymously through the PCHR hotline at 215-686-2856 in various languages. The PCHR tracks incidents and may respond to acts of bias in multiple ways, including addressing community tensions through facilitated discussions, mediation, or other techniques to begin the healing process with all impacted parties and coordinating meaningful responses with various community and City partners. When a discriminatory act occurs in the workplace, housing, or place of public accommodation, the PCHR can also enforce the City’s anti-discrimination laws.
“We also encourage residents to report experiences of hate and intolerance to the national Stop AAPI Hate reporting database, which is accepting incident reports in multiple AAPI languages. The recording of AAPI stories nationally helps community members to collectively heal from the trauma of victimization, as well as often being ignored and further harmed by institutions that have the responsibility to ensure justice.
“Hate and racism in all of its insidious forms have no place in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, and the other mayoral advisory commissions look forward to the future work to put an end to any act of hate and discrimination against individuals based on their race, ethnicity, country of origin, or other aspects of their identity. As the City continues to work toward a more equitable future for its residents, we must ensure that all impacted communities are included and that their unique concerns are both heard and addressed.”