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Act to Change News, Features, and Events

As Anti-Asian Bullying and Hate Continues, Act To Change Strengthens Alliances with Hollywood, Journalism, and Business

TV stars Tan France and Hudson Yang and powerhouses Michelle Lee, Bing Chen, and Philip Chung join Anti-Bullying Nonprofit’s Advisory Council

As COVID-19 infections continue to rise in the United States, so have reports of racist attacks against people of Asian descent. At this critical time, anti-bullying nonprofit Act To Change is pleased to announce an expansion to its Advisory Council, forging stronger ties to Hollywood, journalism, and business with new members:

  • Tan France, TV Personality
  • Hudson Yang, Actor (Fresh Off the Boat)
  • Michelle Lee, Editor in Chief, Allure
  • Bing Chen, Chairman, Gold House & General Partner, AUM Group
  • Philip W. Chung, Creative Director, YOMYOMF

Act To Change, which became a nonprofit in 2018, aims to end bullying in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. It is co-founded by actor, activist, and children’s book author (The Best At It) Maulik Pancholy. Act To Change originally launched as a public awareness campaign from President Obama’s White House Initiative on AAPIs. 

“We are so honored to have this slate of all-stars join Act To Change’s Advisory Council,” says Pancholy. “Each new member brings unique value and tremendous passion to the organization, and we look forward to working together to continue our movement to ensure all Asian American and Pacific Islander youth feel safe and proud of who they are.”

All of the newest Advisory Council members actively participated in Act To Change’s recent AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate on May 18, which garnered participation from more than a dozen cities and nearly 200 organizations throughout the country. The day commemorated Vincent Chin’s birthday and called for communities to take a stand against bullying and hate.

To provide support for AAPI students, caregivers, and educators during the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes amid COVID-19, Act To Change launched its COVID-19 Convos series in the spring. In June, Act To Change hosted Solidarity Convos to discuss how AAPIs can support the Black Live Matter movement and Pride Convos to explore intersectional identities and the connection between Pride Month and Black Lives Matter. 

Act To Change continues to collaborate with celebrities, research groups, and leaders across all sectors to grow awareness about the need for bullying prevention. 

More on the new Advisory Council members:
  • Tan France has been a successful fashion designer behind-the-scenes for over 15 years and became a breakout star following the launch of the Emmy-winning reboot of the reality makeover series “Queer Eye” in 2018. 
  • Hudson Yang, named by Variety, The Wrap and other publications as a rising star to watch in young Hollywood, spent six years as irrepressible protagonist Eddie on ABC’s historic Asian American family sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat”. 
  • Michelle Lee is the Editor in Chief of Allure. Since taking the helm in 2015, Lee has been committed to championing diversity and expanding the definition of beauty.
  • Bing Chen is an entrepreneur, creator, and an equalization builder. He is Chairman and Co-founder of Gold House, the largest collective of pioneering leaders dedicated to forging stronger bonds that enhance Asian representation and success. He is also General Partner and Co-founder of AUM Group, a multicultural film fund. 
  • Philip W. Chung oversees the creative content for YOMYOMF, director Justin Lin’s (Star Trek Beyond, Fast & Furious franchise) Asian American-centric digital company, and has worked in various capacities in film, TV, theater and digital. 

Act To Change Applauds Passage of COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act 

May 20, 2021

 

Act To Change Applauds Passage of COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act 

 

Today, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, after bipartisan passage in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Act To Change applauds the swift passage of this bill, especially with the rise in hate incidents against Asian American communities. 

 

Stop AAPI Hate has had more than 6,600 incident reports since March 2020. And we know this is an undercount. Stop AAPI Hate’s online reporting tool in multiple Asian languages begins to fill a large gap in reporting and tracking for AAPI hate; however, it is time for the federal government to take leadership and invest resources in our communities. 

 

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a positive step forward in requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting, accessible in multiple AAPI languages, and to take affirmative steps to expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns. 

 

However, the work is far from over. We continue to remain committed to ending bullying among AAPI youth, through understanding and educating the public of the systems of white supremacy and oppression that stymy any progress in civil rights for all marginalized communities.

 

Commemorating the 2021 National Asian American and Pacific Islander Day Against Bullying and Hate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 18, 2021


Commemorating the 2021 National Asian American and Pacific Islander Day Against Bullying and Hate

With rise in anti-Asian hate, 40+ cities and states, 250+ organizations, corporations, celebrities, and community leaders unite for national commemoration to honor legacy of Vincent Chin and promote action, healing, and solidarity

 

Today, May 18, 2021 marks the third annual Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) National Day Against Bullying and Hate, led by Act To Change. AAPIs have long faced violence, hate, and bullying, and now the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked rising and unprecedented numbers of anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination. 

 

In recognition of the third annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate, actor, author, and Act To Change co-founder Maulik Pancholy issued the following statement:

 

“It’s critical now more than ever that we protect and empower our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. As anti-Asian hate crimes, xenophobia, and racism are reported at unprecedented and rising numbers, we must remain united and fight against all forms of bullying and hate. Today, Act To Change urgently calls on all leaders and individuals across the country to stand with us on this annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate, honor the legacy of Vincent Chin, and advocate for a world free of bullying and hate.”

 

National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate is observed during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and on May 18, the birthday of Vincent Chin, who was murdered in an anti-Asian hate crime in 1982. This year would have been his 66th birthday.

 

Major companies are joining Act To Change to mark this day, including Netflix, TikTok, Sephora, Facebook, and Yahoo. 

 

Today, Act To Change also released its first Asian American Bullying Report, in partnership with NextShark and Admerasia, to reveal new groundbreaking data on the bullying realities that Asian American youth are facing. Responses were collected from more than 300 Asian American youth, and found that 80 percent have experienced bullying. Seventy percent of Asian American youth saw a rise in cyberbullying during Covid-19. 

 

Nearly 30 influencers and community leaders participated in the May 18 virtual event UNITED WE STAND

 

The more than 40 participating cities and states in the National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate include:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Seattle, WA
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boston, MA
  • Washington, DC
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Dallas, TX
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • State of Arizona
  • State of California
  • State of Hawaii
  • State of Louisiana

 

The over 250 participating community organizations include

  • Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment
  • Angry Asian Man
  • Arab American Institute
  • Asian American News
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
  • Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies
  • Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment
  • Center for Disability Rights
  • Coalition for Asian American Children and Families
  • Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
  • Define American
  • Girls Inc.
  • GLAAD
  • GLSEN
  • Gold House
  • Hollaback!
  • Human Rights Campaign
  • League of United Latin American Citizens
  • Micronesian Islander Community
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
  • NYC Anti-Violence Project
  • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
  • The Sikh Coalition
  • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
  • STOMP Out Bullying
  • Stop AAPI Hate
  • Teach For America
  • The Trevor Project
  • Tyler Clementi Foundation

 

According to Stop AAPI Hate, nearly 6,600 anti-Asian racist incidents were reported since May 2020, a significant increase from 3,795 to 6,603 during March 2021. The center noted that women reported 2.3 times more than men, youth reported 12.6% of incidents, and seniors reported 6.2% of the total incidents. Incident reports have come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Grace Meng, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill has passed both the Senate and the House, and is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden soon. The legislation would instruct the Department of Justice to expedite review of COVID-19 related hate crimes, expand public reporting efforts, and provide guidance to make reporting hate crimes more accessible at the local and state level, including ensuring reporting processes are available in multiple languages.

 

To join the conversation on social media, use #DayAgainstBullying and #ActToChange. 

 

 

 

 

 

80% OF ASIAN AMERICANS HAVE EXPERIENCED BULLYING, NEW BULLYING SURVEY FINDS

May 18, 2021

 

80% OF ASIAN AMERICANS HAVE EXPERIENCED BULLYING, NEW BULLYING SURVEY FINDS

 

Act To Change, NextShark, and Admerasia release bullying report revealing surge in bullying during COVID-19 pandemic

Today, national anti-bullying nonprofit Act To Change, in partnership with Asian American news outlet NextShark and advertising agency Admerasia, has released the 2021 Asian American Bullying Survey Report that measures the impact of bullying, awareness, and prevention measures in the Asian American community. 

 

This report is released on the third annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate, led by Act To Change, bringing together more than 40 cities and states, 300 community organizations, and dozens of elected officials and influencers to stand against bullying and hate in the AAPI community.

 

Survey findings highlight a dramatic rise in bullying in 2020 among Asian American youth. For many Asian American youth, many are less likely to report bullying incidences or have access to resources. Key observations from the study include:

  • The bullying of Asian American youth is astonishingly normalized. 80% of Asian Americans have experienced bullying, in-person, or online. 
  • Cyberbullying affecting Asian Americans in 2020, exacerbated by COVID-19, surged. 70% of Asian American youth experienced or witnessed an increase in cyberbullying in 2020.
  • Asian Americans are significantly less likely to report bullying to an adult than their peers are, potentially due to cultural barriers and lack of trust in adults and schools. 38% of Asian Americans told an adult about the bullying, compared to 63% of non-Asian Americans. 
  • Parents, caregivers, and educators of Asian American youth lack the necessary knowledge or tools to handle and fight the bullying. Only 50% of adults took action after learning someone was bullied.

The survey was based on responses by more than 300 Asian American youth. 

 

To prevent and tackle bullying among youth, particularly with the rise of anti-Asian hate, Act To Change and partners recommend action in the following areas: 

 

  • Spreading awareness and educating the public about the prevalence, severity, and impact of anti-Asian bullying on students, and call for change.
  • Developing easily shareable and accessible resources/toolkits and school curriculums for Asian American children/teens, their caregivers and parents.
  • Crafting programs that provide mental health and consultation services for bullied Asian American children who need help. 
  • Continuing the much-needed work in data collection and data disaggregation for Asian Americans. Comprehensive data is critical to representing the vast diversity of experiences in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Act To Change is a national nonprofit organization working to end bullying among AAPI youth. It envisions a world where all youth can grow up feeling proud of and supported in who they are. 

Admerasia, founded in 1993, is an American advertising agency that has played a critical role in developing technologies to aid Asian American communities and businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

NextShark, founded in 2013, is a leading source of Asian American news and culture reaching 15 million people per week on social media. They have been on the forefront of reporting how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Asian communities and businesses around the globe, sharing community initiatives for recovery, and promoting minority community solidarity against racial injustice.

States, Cities, 250+ National Organizations, and Celebrities to Unite for National Asian American and Pacific Islander Day Against Bullying and Hate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2021

Viet Tran | viet@dawndesignstudios.com

 

States, Cities, 250+ National Organizations, and Celebrities to Unite for National Asian American and Pacific Islander Day Against Bullying and Hate

Amid rise in anti-Asian hate, national anti-bullying group Act To Change leads national commemoration to honor legacy of Vincent Chin and promote action, healing, and solidarity

 

Next month, May 18, 2021, marks the third annual Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) National Day Against Bullying and Hate, led by AAPI anti-bullying nonprofit Act To Change. AAPIs have long faced violence, hate, and bullying, and now the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked rising and unprecedented numbers of anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination. 

 

In recognition of the third annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate, actor, author, and Act To Change co-founder Maulik Pancholy issued the following statement:

 

“It’s critical now more than ever that we protect and empower our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. As anti-Asian hate crimes, xenophobia, and racism are reported at unprecedented and rising numbers, we must remain united and fight against all forms of bullying and hate. Today, Act To Change urgently calls on all leaders and individuals across the country to stand with us on this annual National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate, honor the legacy of Vincent Chin, and advocate for a world free of bullying and hate.”

 

National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate is observed during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and on May 18, the birthday of Vincent Chin, who was murdered in an anti-Asian hate crime in 1982. This year would have been his 66th birthday.

 

Participating celebrities and influencers in the May 18 virtual event UNITED WE STAND (1pm PT / 4pm ET) include:

 

  • Doug Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States
  • Bretman Rock, global internet superstar
  • Tan France, TV personality
  • Olivia Munn, actor and activist
  • Jeremy Lin, NBA champion
  • Liza Koshy, actress, producer and creator
  • Senator Mazie Hirono, HI
  • Senator Tammy Duckworth, IL
  • Congresswoman Grace Meng, NY-06
  • Congressman Andy Kim, NJ-03
  • Congressman Kai Kahele, HI-02
  • Randall Park, actor, director and producer
  • Jasmine Shao, content creator and study influencer
  • Ashley Park, Tony and Grammy-nominated actor
  • Simu Liu, actor, author and activist
  • Deepica Mutyala, founder and CEO, Live Tinted
  • Momona Tamada, actress and activist
  • Bowen Yang, comedian, writer, and actor
  • Michelle Lee, editor in chief, Allure 
  • Liz Kleinrock, anti-bias, anti-racist educator and consultant
  • Hudson Yang, actor, Fresh Off The Boat
  • Prabal Gurung, CEO and creative director
  • Aparna Nancherla, comedian and actress
  • Hari Kondabolu, comedian-writer
  • Jose Antonio Vargas, founder, Define American
  • Bing Chen, president and co-founder of Gold House
  • Sheetal Sheth, actress, author and activist 
  • Maulik Pancholy, actor, author and co-founder of Act To Change
  • Leela Ladnier, actress, Mira, Royal Detective
  • Sarah Ha, VP, National Community Alliances, Teach For America
  • David Yi, co-founder of Good Light and author of “Pretty Boys”
  • Tiffy Cooks, food content creator
  • Christine Chang, co-founder and co-CEO of Glow Recipe
  • Sarah Lee, co-founder and co-CEO of Glow Recipe
  • Nick Cho, Your Korean Dad, content creator, and coffee entrepreneur
  • Hāwane Rios, singer, songwriter, chanter, and protector

 

Fast Facts:

  • About 1 in 5 students report being bullied during the school year
  • Fifty percent of Asian American students report bias-based harassment
  • Two-thirds of Sikh American students report being bullied
  • Half of Muslim American students report being bullied due to their religion
  • 1 in 4 Asian American youth has experienced COVID-19-related bullying

 

According to a recent report from Stop AAPI Hate, nearly 6,600 anti-Asian racist incidents were reported since May 2020, a significant increase from 3,795 to 6,603 during March 2021. The center noted that women reported 2.3 times more than men, youth reported 12.6% of incidents, and seniors reported 6.2% of the total incidents. Incident reports have come from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Grace Meng, the Senate last month voted to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill to address the rising number of hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans. Sens. Mazie Hirono, Tammy Duckworth, and Rep. Grace Meng now call on the House to swiftly consider the bill. The legislation would instruct the Department of Justice to expedite review of COVID-19 related hate crimes, expand public reporting efforts, and provide guidance to make reporting hate crimes more accessible at the local and state level, including ensuring reporting processes are available in multiple languages.

 

If you are a company, organization, or individual interested in becoming a sponsor or partner for National AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate, visit acttochange.org/2021dayagainstbullying.   

 

To join the conversation on social media, use #DayAgainstBullying and #ActToChange. 

###

 

Originally launched under President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Act To Change is a national nonprofit organization working to end bullying among AAPI youth. It envisions a world where all youth can grow up feeling proud of and supported in who they are. 

Addressing the Atlanta violence

We’re sickened, crushed, and devastated by the violence in the Atlanta-area spas yesterday that left eight people dead. The fact that six of the eight victims were Asian American women is particularly painful in the context of the rise in anti-Asian xenophobia, hate crimes, and attacks that have surged since the beginning of the pandemic.

 

Data from Stop AAPI Hate revealed a disproportionate number of anti-Asian incidents in the last year were directed to women. Of the near 3,800 incidents, 68% were reported by women compared to 29% by men. We cannot ignore the ways in which those most impacted by racism are those who also experience oppression at the intersection of other lived experiences and identities. Liberation for women, elders, sex workers, low-wage professionals, undocumented Asians, and so many other marginalized Asians is at the heart of what dismantling white supremacy looks like.

 

We don’t know everything yet, and there will be more to discuss and process, but we know enough to say this: systemic problems require systemic solutions, and we’re committed to following the lead of those most experienced in driving systemic change. During these dark and painful times, please check in on each other. Stay vigilant. Extend compassion and grace, and offer what you can without expecting a response. Practice both self-care and community-care. Remember to breathe, and know that you are loved, beautiful, and powerful beyond measure. Let’s help our community and ourselves heal together.

 

We also encourage everyone to support, follow, and donate to these organizations:

@AAPIWomenLead: https://www.imreadymovement.org/
@NAPAWF: https://www.napawf.org/
@AAAJ_Atlanta: https://www.advancingjustice-atlanta.org/
@StopAAPIHate: https://stopaapihate.org/
@iHollaback: https://www.ihollaback.org/

Letter of Support for Dr. Vivek Murthy

February 26, 2021

 

The Honorable Patty Murray

Chair

Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Richard Burr

Ranking Member

Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Chairman Murray and Ranking Member Burr:

 

On behalf of Act To Change, we strongly support the nomination of Vivek Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. to the position of Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Murthy is a champion for the physical, mental, social and emotional health of our nation’s children. He is a tireless anti-bullying advocate and a proven leader who builds coalitions among diverse communities to ensure better health for our country. We believe he will again serve the nation well in this role, especially at this critical time of crisis.

 

Act To Change is a national non-profit organization dedicated to combating bullying and hate, especially among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth. Act To Change envisions a world where all youth– including from the AAPI, Sikh, Muslim, LGBTQI, and immigrant communities– have the opportunity to grow up feeling supported and proud of who they are. Act To Change supports youth agency in responding to bullying with healthy ways, connects students with culturally-responsive resources, and advocates for systemic change.

 

Since our organization’s inception, Dr. Murthy has been an avid supporter of our mission to end bullying in the AAPI community. Act To Change originally launched in 2015 as a public awareness campaign under President Barack Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) in which Dr. Murthy served as co-chair. As Act To Change transitioned out of the White House to a grassroots movement, Dr. Murthy provided invaluable support as we became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2018. We were honored to have Dr. Murthy serve as the first member of Act To Change’s inaugural Advisory Council. 

 

Bullying is a significant public health challenge facing our country. Many students are being bullied in schools due to increasingly anti-immigrant and xenophobic discourse. Unfortunately, many AAPI youth who are bullied also face cultural, religious, and language barriers to getting help. As a well-respected physician and public health expert, Dr. Murthy is keenly aware of the consequences of bullying on the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of children and young adults. As bullying and hate crimes against AAPIs rise across the country, Dr. Murthy’s extensive training, background and passion for emotional health is a critical asset, now more than ever. 

 

Dr. Murthy has been an invaluable partner in our movement to ensure that all youth feel supported in the development of their identity, and empowered to share their stories.  Dr. Murthy advocates for the victims of bullying, while also seeking to understand and address the perpetrators who are often struggling themselves. We are continually humbled by Dr. Murthy’s dedication to building more inclusive spaces for youth, especially those from communities of color. 

 

We also support the government’s commitment to diverse leadership. It is important to build a government that truly reflects the rich diversity of our country, including Asian American representation in top leadership roles. In addition, Dr. Murthy has the background and experience of working with diverse communities, and this perspective is critical in serving as Surgeon General when the government must respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact across the nation.

 

We strongly urge the swift appointment of Dr. Murthy to the position of Surgeon General of the United States. Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Act To Change Board of Directors

  • Maulik Pancholy, Chair & Co-Founder
  • Rebecca Lee, Managing Director & Co-Founder
  • Jill Yu, Managing Director & Co-Founder
  • Belinda Lei, Managing Director
  • Ru Bhatt
  • Josef Canaria
  • Elaine Dang
  • Mindy Kordash-Shim
  • Richard Leong
  • Jamie Lok
  • Saad Qureshi
  • Anthony Reyes
  • Nancy Tien

 

Statement on the recent rise of anti-Asian hate and violence

 

A message of hurting, healing, and hope.

 

We grieve with our elders, our families, and our communities.


None of this is new. Act To Change launched as a public awareness campaign on bullying prevention, out of President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, when in some communities more than half of Asian American students reported being bullied, and in others the rate remained far underreported. Since 9/11 there has been a consistent increase in violence and hate towards Sikh, Muslim, and South Asian members of our community, and we saw a similar increase in xenophobic and racist hate that came alongside COVID-19, exacerbated by government leaders using racist terms. Stop AAPI Hate has documented nearly 3,000 hate incidents in the last year.

 

Just because it isn’t new doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. The videos and photos have been so incredibly hard to watch. We’re saddened by how long it took for mainstream news outlets to cover what was happening to our elders, and we’re angry that so many still don’t know what’s been happening. We want justice for our elders and for our communities, and we want to feel like we can belong and exist in this country. 

 

Our vision is for a world where all youth have the opportunity to grow up feeling proud and supported in the development of their identity and sharing of their stories. Today, we are reminded that dreaming of a better world requires work, and it is in the spirit of hope and hard work that we want to remind our community: The bullying and violence against Asians is rooted in white supremacy culture.

 

The same systems that shaped the model minority myth also leverage that narrative to pit Asians as a wedge group against other communities of color. We are grateful for the many voices that have risen to support our community, and we call on everyone, especially those with a platform, to amplify efforts to build solidarity with Black, Indigenous and other communities of color to combat and dismantle systemic racism. We cannot be truly anti-racist without centering Black liberation.

 

Instead of allowing white supremacy to pit us against one another, Act To Change commits to supporting our community by:

 

  1. Spreading awareness to mobilize others to act in their home and in their communities by offering coordinated support, supporting local organizations working to fight racism within their communities, and amplifying diverse stories and perspectives.
  2. Educating our community and others about the rise in hate and bullying against the AAPI community, examining the systems that perpetuate violence and hate, and finding solutions that are culturally relevant, community centered, trauma informed.
  3. Building coalitions nationally and locally. We specifically believe it is important to listen and follow the lead of local community organizations and activists, and this became particularly pronounced after the violence in the Bay Area, New York City, and so many other places. We encourage everyone to follow the lead of local and grassroots leaders in communities they wish to support, such as the over 40 community organizations in the Bay Area who have banded together under the Oakland Chinatown Coalition.

 

Resources

 

“I’m Speaking”

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris knows how to stand up against bullying.

As an interracial child of immigrant parents growing up in America, she faced bullying in her school.

As an attorney, politician, and Senator working in fields dominated by white men, she has had to raise her voice just to be heard, even when she’s the only person in the room saying the right thing.

As the first woman, Black and South Asian Vice President of the United States of America, Kamala Harris will face her share of criticism, bullying and hatred, but with her resilience, compassion and dedication to equity, we believe she will rise above the hate and be an example to youth across our country.

Harris’s oath to become Vice President today sends a message to children in all marginalized communities, a message that says, Yes, your stories matter.

As Harris said, she may be the first woman in this office, but she won’t be the last.

In kindergarten, when a boy grabbed her best friend’s clay art project and broke it, 5-year old Harris stepped in and stood up for her friend. When Harris was bullied by a Senator who mocked her name saying “Kamala mala mala … whatever”, the whole nation stood up for her, storming Twitter with beautiful #MyNameIs messages that explained the history, the culture, and the legacies of our ancestors that our names carry.

 

“#MyNameIs Maulik. In Sanskrit it means ‘Original.’ In Hindi, ‘Precious.’ My grandfather said it’s ‘the origin of thought’ – the unknown place from which ideas spring forth,” says Maulik Pancholy, co-founder of Act To Change.

“#MyNameIs, 雷小小, which means thunder small small. I liked to think I was Pikachu when I was growing up – it made me feel cute and powerful!” says Belinda Lei, Managing Director of Act To Change.

“#MyNameIs Saad. In Arabic it means happiness and luck. In Urdu, it means blessed, and I truly feel that everyday,” says Saad Qureshi, Board Member of Act To Change.

“#MyNameIs 유민 Yumin. Yu means beauty and Min means gem. In Korean, siblings  often share one syllable so my sister’s name is 유진 Yujin!” says Board Member Mindy Kordash-Shim.

 

AAPI youth are no strangers to having our names butchered by our classmates, or being bullied for our accents, our lunches, or our appearances. With Harris in the White House, AAPI youth can confidently carry and claim our cultures.

When Harris took the Vice President debate stage in October, the AAPI community again poured their support on social media, with the hashtag #AAPISheRose. We shared stories of our immigrant mothers and grandmothers, many of whom fled war, abuse or political unrest, and sacrificed everything in their lives to raise us.

In that same debate, when Mike Pence repeatedly interrupted VP Harris, she reclaimed her time with a firm “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking”, giving a voice to every woman who has ever been talked over at the workplace. 

VP Harris continues to be an active advocate against bullying. She kicked off the Stand Up for AAPI Youth During COVID anti-bullying program, which offers schools lesson plans that address issues such as the model minority myth, implicit biases, microaggressions, self-acceptance, cultural appropriation and more. During the COVID pandemic, 1 in 4 kids of Asian descent have reported being bullied due to their race. When 14 year old Tyler Gordon, who was bullied severely in school for his stutter, painted a portrait of VP Harris, she personally called him to express gratitude and praise his talent.

VP Harris’s Inauguration today also serves as a reminder of the importance of appreciating and embracing our intersectionalities. We are also reminded today of how much stronger we are when our communities band together. Harris’s election victory has sparked many critical discussions within AAPI families to confront our implicit anti-Blackness. When we celebrate the first South Asian woman taking the oath today, we must also remember to celebrate the Black woman, and thank generations of Black activists who made it possible for us to enjoy our civil, voting, immigration, and interracial marriage rights.

However, many AAPI parents still believe “everyone can make it with enough hard work” perpetuating the Model Minority Myth. Many of us are still reminded by our families to not stay out in the sun for too long, lest our skin become too dark. These racist beliefs and actions are still inherent in our community, and it is upon us to have constructive conversations to eradicate anti-Blackness.

Actor and activist Ryan Alexander Holmes, who like Madame VP Harris is 100% Black and 100% Asian, is joining us this Saturday, along with co-founder Maulik Pancholy and a panel of youth leaders, to discuss ways to Talk To Our Parents About Anti-Blackness. We are grateful to Leadership Conference’s Education Fund’s “Black Justice Is Our Justice” project for sponsoring #LeadershipConvos, and hope you’ll tune in! 

 

RSVP for #Leadership Convos here.

Saturday, Jan 23 at 12-1PM PT/ 3-4PM ET

Meet Managing Director and Bestselling Author Belinda Lei

 

In 2019, approximately only 9% of main characters in U.S. books were of Asian descent, 12% were Black, and only 3% of total books included a LGBTQIAP+ character (CCBC).

 

When minority kids do not see themselves in the books they read and the media they consume, they begin to feel like their stories don’t matter. Act To Change’s Managing Director Belinda Lei felt the same way growing up, and she is now changing the narrative for the next generation, with her best-selling debut novel, Not THAT Rich

Gossip Girl meets Crazy Rich Asians in this satirical, juicy and dramatic debut novel about a group of private high schoolers in an affluent Southern Californian suburb. The novel reached Amazon’s #1 New Release and #1 Bestselling status within a week of publishing for Asian American YA Fiction and Immigration & Emigration Fiction. 

Having been raised to almost imitate the model minority stereotype—the myth that all Asian Americans are a law-abiding, hardworking, overachieving, silent, and also (in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic) a virus-spreading minority group, Belinda is hoping to shatter the model minority myth with her novel while also supporting AAPI youth in her role as Managing Director of Act To Change. 

 

In a recent blog post about “Why it’s important to have a diverse bookshelf,” Belinda writes: 

“By writing Not THAT Rich, I wanted to present a set of fun (and dramatic!) experiences that also exposed young adult readers to a cast of characters that reflected my world growing up – one that reflected the ethnic suburban enclaves that were part of my world. My hope for the book is that it emphasizes the diversity of Asian American culture, but also offers up the common challenges that teenagers all experience today – educational and familial pressures, identity struggles, and peer pressure.”

 

Having been brought up in a strong Asian American community like the San Gabriel Valley, Belinda got to witness firsthand the many different shades of being an Asian American as the daughter of first-generation Chinese immigrants. And many around her face the following dilemmas:

    • Where is personal identity in between two distinctly different cultural identities?
    • What does it really mean to be Asian American?
    • What’s the right way to be Asian American?

These are the questions that many characters in Not THAT Rich ask themselves on a regular basis. The truth is that there is no one single, or one correct way to be Asian American. That’s the myth that Belinda’s book is aiming to change.

Every Asian American, every child, every person has a unique identity and story, and there is no need to fit into a mold. Not THAT Rich inspires every child to shine and be their true selves without any qualms.

 

Interested in learning more? Check out Belinda’s journey at notthatrich.com and the e-book or paperback on Amazon. Connect with Belinda on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Act To Change Launches Anti-Bullying Workshop Series and Virtual School Visits With TV Personality Tan France

For Immediate Release

December 2, 2020

 

Act To Change, a national nonprofit organization working to address bullying among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) youth, is hosting its first series of Homeroom x Tan France, anti-bullying workshops and virtual school visits with TV personality Tan France. After the COVID-19 pandemic led to a sharp spike in cases of bullying and racism against the AAPI community, Act To Change created this initiative to increase awareness of bullying prevention and teach kids to become active anti-bullying advocates in their schools.

 

AAPI youth face bullying for a number of reasons, and unique cultural, religious, and language barriers can keep them from getting help. Misinformation around the spread of the COVID-19 virus, coupled with inflammatory political rhetoric, exacerbated bullying experienced by AAPI youth this year. Within three months, over 2000 cases of anti-Asian hate, violence and discrimination were reported to Stop AAPI Hate.

 

“Bullying is a universal problem. Kids who are perceived as ‘different’ are often ridiculed and targeted by their peers,” said Tan France. “Through our Homeroom series, Act To Change aims to ensure that kids have the resources they need to be advocates against bullying within their schools and communities. Teaching our youth to be strong and vocal about this issue from a young age is crucial in keeping them safe.”

 

France joined the Act To Change Advisory Council in July 2020, and was among many AAPI leaders who joined United We Stand, a virtual event hosted by the organization to mark the second annual AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate in May 2020.

 

Nominations for 6-12th grade schools were collected for the Homeroom workshops, and ten schools have been selected for the first round of workshops. Seven students and one faculty member from each school will participate in the workshop led by Tan France. The selected schools are:

 

  • Ambassador School of Global Leadership , Los Angeles, CA
  • Andrew P. Hill High School, San Jose, CA
  • Brighton High School, Brighton, CO
  • Da Vinci RISE High School, Los Angeles, CA
  • DreamHouse Ewa Beach, Kalaeloa, HI
  • The Head-Royce School, Oakland, CA
  • Inglemoor High School, Kenmore, WA
  • Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy, Kansas City, MO
  • Salt Lake Center for Science Education, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Uplift Heights Secondary Preparatory, Dallas, TX

 

Following the workshop, all schools will hold a virtual or in-person assembly focused on bullying prevention, and take on two or more of the following actions within this school year:

 

  • Gather books highlighting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)  experiences from the school library and display it in a public location (virtually or in-person)
  • Include a BIPOC book in its curriculum
  • Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
  • Host a faculty meeting surrounding the question: “What can our school do to prevent bullying and racism?”

During National Bullying Prevention Month in October, Act To Change held its Youth Rising conference, where France previewed the Homeroom series in a panel with student representatives from several of the selected schools.

 

 

Homeroom x Tan France is one of the several ways Act To Change has responded to the rise in xenophobia, and the organization plans to host multiple rounds of Homeroom series going into 2021.

 

Through the generous support of HarperCollins and Macmillan Publishers, Act To Change will provide each school a shelf of books written by BIPOC authors as part of the Homeroom series.

Act To Change is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to address bullying, including in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

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