In 1996, a small group of leaders from various Asian American advocacy organizations joined together to establish a coalition to advocate on behalf of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The coalition, now known as the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), has grown dramatically since its founding. Now thirty-seven organizations strong, our membership proudly works to represent East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities across nearly every policy area, and provide a more unified voice at the national level.
Throughout our work, we have seen the vibrance and power within our communities — and the unfortunate ways others do not. Waves of xenophobia and Islamophobia have consistently reminded Asian American communities that we must prove we deserve to belong and be heard.
All too often, perceptions of AAPIs are driven by the model minority stereotype, which falsely assumes Asian Americans to be successful, apolitical, and highly educated. Because of this, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander populations are regularly homogenized despite our differing experiences and challenges in the face of racism.
When it comes to critical research, policies, and media coverage, our community is often misrepresented, homogenized, and forgotten. The onslaught of the COVID-19 Pandemic resulted in rising anti-Asian sentiment from elected officials popularizing terms like “kung flu” and “Wuhan virus,” and media outlets plastering images of Asian people for virus-related news.
We will no longer stand idly by as stories and research refer to us as a monolith. We understand that many of these attempts to recognize us, while they may be well intentioned; however, they also further marginalize and make invisible valued members of our community. This is especially true for Pacific Islander communities who are dually excluded from general conversations on race and ethnicity and data, and even further subsumed by the broader AAPI community when included.
Recognizing all the ways Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are erased, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is ecstatic to reveal the launch of our #WhoWeAre campaign for 2021.
With this campaign, we are debuting stamps of approval and disapproval to ensure AAPIs will not be left out of critical decisions which impact our communities. From insufficient language resources to aggregated data obscuring the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on Pacific Islanders, the need for AAPIs to assert themselves is more urgent than ever.
Plain and simple: it’s time for us to call our erasure out.
We hope you will join our campaign in showing the diversity and nuances of #WhoWeAre. We welcome community submissions for our #WhoWeAre stamp project at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please title submissions as “#WhoWeAre Submission.”
National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)