A Word From Executive Director Akil Vohra

To our youth, friends, families, and AALEAD supporters,

As I write to you today, I am both optimistic and cautious.

You have likely read or heard recent news reports about increasing xenophobia and bigotry facing Asian Americans. Nationally, we are seeing rising incidences of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against Asian communities. A recent report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University Bakersfield revealed that while hate crimes decreased overall by seven percent in 2020, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent.

We condemn all of these hateful actions that are targeting the Asian American community.

While the number of hate crimes in our local DMV community seem to not rise to the level witnessed in other cities, recent news headlines including those in Maryland, Virginia, and DC may foretell a rising trend of anti-Asian hate, violence, discrimination, and bullying in our region. AALEAD is monitoring these situations and will continue to provide updates to all of you.

AALEAD’s primary concern is to ensure the safety of our Asian American youth and their loved ones. Research has shown that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion and despair, as well as depression and anxiety. This bigotry, coupled with a year-long pandemic, has exacerbated issues for Asian Americans. Here are some of the actions we have recently taken to provide additional support and continue to promote leadership and identity development with our youth:

  • AALEAD staff is routinely surveying youth to ask if they are directly experiencing harassment/bullying, and their observations of anti-Asian harassment
  • AALEAD has increased one-on-one and small group check-ins between AALEAD staff and our youth to identify any issues and provide support
  • AALEAD is discussing anti-Asian hate crimes and youth upstander roles against discrimination in our youth programs, and have launched targeted campaigns and service projects for youth to take an active role against these issues
  • AALEAD is continuing our cross-cultural workshops that aim to build understanding and power across communities, and to discuss issues of identity and connections with others to build empathy and understanding.

The actions above are our immediate responses. Moving forward, AALEAD will be taking additional steps to address the underlying issues and causes of this hate, and to ensure AALEAD is a voice for the AAPI community. We recognize our role in working with other communities to advance a world where hate has no place. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality.

In solidarity,

Akil Vohra

Executive Director, AALEAD

To support AALEAD’s work on these initiatives please consider making a donation today.

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