Kim Belshé | First 5 LA Executive Director

March 19, 2021

Earlier this week, America’s crisis of racist hatred spiraled into the most recent and most violent of persistent attacks on Asian Americans since the pandemic began.

Rooted in vigilante determination to place blame for the COVID-19 virus, repeated attacks across the nation are driving fear in the Asian-American community, particularly among women – who have been widely targeted and account for six of the eight people killed in Tuesday’s shootings in Atlanta.

According to Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Hate, the national coalition to address anti-Asian discrimination amid the pandemic, more than 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian hate have been documented since March 2020. The recent shootings and loss of life at three separate Atlanta-area spas is a dire reminder that violence of any sort cannot go unaddressed.

Though the individual apprehended in connection with the shooting states his actions were not racially motivated, the incident is the most devastating of those ranging from assaults, verbal harassments, and civil rights violations. The highest number of such incidents are being reported here in California.

It is past time to recognize and reject the violence against Asian Americans, who for too long have been subject to hate-related incidents, anti-immigrant hostility, and racial prejudice. We must acknowledge our nation’s – and, sadly, California’s – history of maltreatment of Asian Americans.

First 5 LA denounces hatred of any kind, whether they be attacks on dignity or attempts to use fear and violence for one or more people to gain control over another and assault their rights and safety as a citizen of this country and as a human being.

We stand in solidarity with our AAPI colleagues, communities, and partners. We are dedicated to raising awareness, engaging parents and communities, and advocating for policy change. We are committed to being a part of solutions to advance a just, equitable and safe future for all of L.A. County’s children and families.

Persistent and systemic inequities have consequences.  Every act of hate and racism destroys opportunities for children to develop and grow. Seeing adverse events in the news can be troubling or traumatic – for both parents and their young children. Here is some additional guidance for parents and caregivers to help kids process these events:

The futures we work so passionately to build for L.A. County’s young children begin with the dedication and commitments we make today to break the cycle of hatred and prejudice.

So, we stand in solidarity against hate speech and violence and are dedicated to doing our part to achieve its end.

COVID-19 vaccines are helping to slow the spread of the virus. Will the violence and hatred against the AAPI community, fueled by the pandemic, slow as well? Regrettably, no. Anti-Asian hostility and racism is woven into the fabric of our society. As Vice President Harris noted in her nomination acceptance speech, “There is no vaccine for racism – we gotta do the work.”

That is the work before us all.