By Aaron Facundo, AsAmNews Intern
Vice President Kamala Harris heralded the passage of the Hate Crime Act Wednesday, but warned of suppression of Asian Americans who vote by mail.
Harris spoke at the AAPI Victory Alliance’s event featuring big names from the AAPI community discussing anti-Asian hate crimes. An after party highlighted by an appearance by former First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton followed.
With the Hate Crime Bill, the ease of reporting Asian American hate crimes both at a local and state level will increase. Additionally, the bill by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) instructs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of these reports.
“This bill got the support of so many different communities: the Jewish community, the Hispanic community, the Black community and of course, the AAPI community,” Senator Mazie Hirono said. “And so we have a bipartisan bill, which I’d like to see more of.”
The passing of the bill is in reaction to the rise in Asian American hate crimes since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“So early on in the pandemic, 1,100 anti Asian hate incidents had been reported,” Harris said. “Over a year later, We are now up to more than 6600 and nearly two in three were reported by women.”
Harris states that the report numbers are lower than the number of hate crimes that actually occurred.
Harris’ next topic focused on the oppression of voters, specifically Asian American voters that vote by mail.
“More than 360 bills to restrict the right to vote have been introduced in nearly every state in the United States of America,” Harris said. “Many of these bills specifically target vote by mail while 64% of Asian Americans vote by mail.”
Despite the stated hardships with voting, the speakers also spoke about the diversity within the current United States Senate.
“I’m now proud to be part of the most diverse United States Senate that we’ve had, and really having our own mini trade caucus,” New Mexico Senator Ben Ray Luján said.
All the speakers agreed upon how important diversity in the senate is and how representation matters in politics.
“When you have diversity, backgrounds and experiences, you have a fuller debate and discussion on issues that affect all of us,” Hirono said. “These different viewpoints need to be articulated at the table.”
To wrap up the event, fashion designer and television personality Tan France appeared .
“I am asking you to support the critical organizations and the work they engage in,” France said. “Support AAPI candidates, share knowledge of the AAPI community and stop AAPI hate.”
France stated that the AAPI community is the fastest growing electorate in the United States. Voter turnout between 2016 and 2020 increased by 46%.
Clinton later spoke about the importance of building political power in the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
“There is a common need to be counted and stand up and vote for people who will stand with you and represent your interests,” she said.
Voter turnout in the AAPI community increased 46% in 2020.
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