May 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Harris on anti-Asian hate: Let's "turn that pain into action"

Screenshot of Kamala Harris speaking into a mic at the AAPI Unity Summit

Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday condemned the yearlong spike in anti-Asian hate and urged the Asian American community to harness its political power.

What she's saying: "When we saw the targeting, when we've seen the hate, when we've seen the viciousness of it all ... As a member of this community, I share in that outrage and grief, and I believe we have an opportunity now to turn that pain into action," the country's first Asian and Black vice president said at the AAPI Victory Alliance's unity summit.

  • The reporting center Stop AAPI Hate has received over 6,600 reports since March 2020, but that number falls short, Harris said, pointing to her experience working on hate crimes reports as California's attorney general.
  • She also condemned the current slew of GOP-led voting restrictions, which she said will "suppress" Asian Americans' right to vote.
    • AAPI voter turnout jumped by 46% between 2016 and 2020, and used vote-by-mail at a higher rate than any other group, USA Today reports.
  • "We have an opportunity to ... transform our nation's future," she added, encouraging the community to mobilize its power.
"And it is what I call American aspiration. It is the ability to see what can be, unburdened by what has been. It is the determination, not only to dream, but to do."

Hillary Clinton, who also spoke at the event, said that seeing the community respond to anti-Asian hate has given her hope.

  • "Facing adversity can break you, it can discourage you, it can depress you, it can make you feel like there’s nothing you can do, but that’s not what I’m seeing," she said.
  • "I’m seeing a real coming-together, not only of the community itself, but the allies — people who are standing up, speaking out, voting on behalf of what should be obvious, which is a fair, just, equal, inclusive America."

The big picture: Congress this week sent the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to President Biden's desk, which Harris applauded in her remarks on Wednesday.

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