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On Thursday, April 8, Axios executive editor Sara Kehaulani Goo, Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo and Axios business reporter Hope King hosted a conversation on Pan-Asian American identity and politics, featuring Michigan State Sen. Stephanie Chang, Rise founder & CEO Amanda Nguyen and RUN AAPI executive director Linh Nguyen.

Sen. Chang unpacked building coalitions in Michigan across issues including immigration, voting rights, and criminal justice reform, and highlighted the work of young activists in the Asian American community.

  • On finding common ground: "I think that it's really important that we're always making connections between issues, so whether it's #StopAsianHate or working on issues of racism and connecting them to Black Lives Matter and also continuing the fight for immigrants' rights."
  • On the work of young activists: "It's a struggle, but also really inspiring to see the amazing activism, especially from younger people in the community, that are really rising up and speaking out."

Amanda Nguyen discussed anti-Asian discrimination, legislation around hate crimes, and the impact of equitable representation.

  • How the legal definition of hate crimes does not capture the big picture of anti-Asian violence: "Hate crimes may be defined in certain ways on the state level [and] on the federal level differently. However, we must address unconscious bias when people talk about hate crimes."
  • On the critical need for Asian American representation: "The problem is invisibility, therefore the solution is visibility. It means representation in the system...Federal government representation, mainstream media, our education [systems]."

Linh Nguyen discussed building political power, an intersectional approach to political organizing, and having conversations that bridge generational divides within the Asian American community.

  • On the potential for political impact: "I think more specifically in the electoral organizing space and recognizing the power of Asian-Americans...we've only been able to really recognize the tip of the iceberg."
  • On addressing anti-Blackness in the Asian American community: "I think for a lot of us who are in the community in organizing, these conversations also need to happen within our own families...it needs to happen in the churches that we belong to, in the community centers that we go to."

Go deeper

AAPI leaders: In this current moment, "the solution is visibility"

The answer to discrimination and violence against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is increasing their visibility, two AAPI leaders said on Thursday at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: Asian Americans are in the spotlight after a yearlong spike in anti-Asian incidents across the country and shootings in Atlanta that killed eight people, including six Asian women.

The long history of racist attacks against Asian Americans

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A rise in assaults against Asian Americans last year seems primarily tied to the coronavirus pandemic. Some Asian Americans also worry that heightened tensions between the U.S. and China and growing fears of China's espionage activities stateside could make them more vulnerable to racist attacks.

Driving the news: There were more than 2,800 incidents of verbal and physical assaults directed at Asian Americans in 2020, according to Stop AAPI Hate, an organization founded early last year to track hate crimes against people of Asian American Pacific Islander heritage, Axios' Shawna Chen reports.

Esports scene grapples with anti-Asian hate in U.S.

Image: Overwatch League logo (Activision Blizzard)

Comments from a Korean pro gamer based in Dallas have stirred discussion in the esports world about discrimination against Asian and Asian American players.

Driving the news: “Being Asian here is terrifying,” said Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok, a player for the Dallas Fuel “Overwatch” team, during a livestream on Monday that was later translated by another team’s manager and has since gone viral.

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