How to Support the Bay Area’s Asian-American Community Right Now

Take a stand against AAPI hate in all its shapes and forms.

A mother and daughter listens to speakers at an AAPI rally to condemn Portsmouth Square in San Francisco's Chinatown in San Francisco, California
A mother and daughter listens to speakers at an AAPI rally to condemn Portsmouth Square in San Francisco's Chinatown in San Francisco, California | JOHN G MABANGLO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
A mother and daughter listens to speakers at an AAPI rally to condemn Portsmouth Square in San Francisco's Chinatown in San Francisco, California | JOHN G MABANGLO/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Since the beginning of the pandemic, this country has seen a horrifying surge in violent and racist attacks against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. It has been especially troubling in the Bay Area, which holds the largest Asian population in the contiguous U.S., and where anti-Asian violence has become so rampant that many people don’t feel safe going outside.

In January, a 91-year-old Asian man was violently shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown and in San Francisco, an 84-year-old Thai man died after being attacked in the middle of the day. In February, a 91-year-old Asian man was viciously shoved to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown, and a 64-year-old Vietnamese grandmother was assaulted and robbed in San Jose. And the attacks haven’t stopped.

Last week, at three separate massage parlors in the Atlanta metro area, eight people were murdered, six of them women of Asian descent. This horrific hate crime has illuminated the prevalence of anti-Asian hate crimes across America, and people have come together to #StopAAPIHate, calling for an end to violence, xenophobia, and racism against a community that has suffered it far too long.

It is more important now than ever that we stand in solidarity with AAPI communities. We need to learn the history of anti-Asian racism in America, discuss it, and figure out solutions to end it. We need to speak up when we see or hear any kind of racism. And we need to take action. There are lots of opportunities in the Bay Area for you to be an ally to AAPI communities. Here are just a few to get you started:

Advocate for the civil and human rights of AAPI communities

The Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus opened in Oakland in 1972 (now based in SF), becoming the country’s first legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans. Their mission is to pursue equality and justice for AAPI communities, with a focus on those who are low-income, immigrants, and/or underserved. They do this by advocating for housing rights, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform, workers’ rights, civil rights, voting rights, and more.

If you would like to get involved, you can donate money. A $25 donation can help a limited-English speaking low-wage worker get help filing a claim to recover stolen wages. A $500 donation can help a tenant stay in their rent-controlled apartment. If you have excellent administrative/clerical skills, a strong interest in social justice, and language skills (not required), you can also apply to volunteer

Since 1972, the Chinese Progressive Association has been educating, organizing, and empowering low-income and working-class immigrants in SF’s Chinese community. They fight for better working and living conditions by engaging in community education, organizing, leadership development, and more. To date, CPA has helped low-wage workers recover over $8 million in owed wages. You can help by donating or applying to volunteer.

Chinatown Community Development Center provides an abundance of necessary programs across San Francisco, including youth leadership development, civic engagement, and resident services, among many others. They even offer affordable housing to over 4,500 residents. They’re accepting donations and also looking for volunteers.

Compassion in Oakland was formed as a direct response to the surge of Asian-American hate in the Bay Area. They want everyone to feel safe, especially elderly Asians, so they rallied over 400 people to volunteer as chaperones for people who would like to feel safer when they need to be out and about. Sign up to volunteer.

Learn about the experiences of AAPI in America

The Asian Law Caucus created Stand Against Hatred as a place where people in the AAPI community can tell their stories about the hate and injustice they’ve faced. The stories are published for anyone to read so that we can all try to learn more about the experiences they’ve had with racism, hate, violence, and more. 

Report hate crime incidents

If you see a violent, hate-fueled incident against a member of the AAPI community—or are the victim of one—don’t keep it to yourself. If someone is in danger or has been hurt, call the police before anything else. But then, no matter how big or small, report it to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization created by a professor at San Francisco State University to track, respond to, and ultimately end anti-Asian racism in the U.S.

Whether you overhear verbal harassment or observe a civil rights violation, like the refusal of service, report the incident on the site. It only takes seven minutes and this reporting helps Stop AAPI Hate know where they need to push for better protection, educational resources, and policies. This is obviously needed as in the last year, nearly 3,800 hate incidents were reported, and we can be sure that number only represents a fraction of the incidents that actually occurred. Read their tips for those experiencing or witnessing hate, as well as how to help if you see someone being targeted. You can always donate.  

Feed + Fuel Chinatown
Feed + Fuel Chinatown | Courtesy of Chinatown Community Development Center

Help “Feed + Fuel” Chinatown businesses and residents

San Francisco’s Chinatown was hit hard by COVID due to a lack of tourism, foot traffic, and xenophobic fears about the virus. Help out some of the neighborhood’s amazing restaurants by ordering takeout or dining in. The Rose Pak Democratic Club also compiled a list of a bunch of family-owned restaurants that are open for business and would love to feed you soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, Peking duck, and more.

At the beginning of COVID, Feed + Fuel Chinatown mobilized immediately and helped distribute over 120,000 meals to single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) and public housing residents in two and a half months. Now, they want to raise money to save Chinatown restaurants by using them to continue feeding SRO residents in the neighborhood. They have the support of the city and are now looking to raise $100,000 from the community to help them achieve their goals. 

Help advocate for the medically underserved 

Everyone deserves equal access to health care services. Asian Health Services provides health, social, and advocacy services for all people who need it, including the immigrant and refugee Asian community. They serve over 50,000 people in 14 Asian languages helping with everything from perinatal care to behavioral health to dental checkups. Donate online to help with their COVID campaign or their fund for people impacted by the crime and assaults that have been happening recently in Oakland, 

Asian American Recovery Services (AARS) is part of the HealthRIGHT 360 program, which helps provide care and support in all ways for people with substance abuse issues. AARS focuses on the same issues in the Bay Area, but with an eye toward those in the AAPI community who are in need. Donate money or apply to volunteer.

Engage with Asian and Asian-American Art

Learn about Asian art and cultures and help uplift the voices of the Asian and Asian-American community by visiting the Asian Art Museum, which is home to one of the world’s best collections of Asian art. It’s a compelling way to connect with the culture, while also learning more about the history and lived experiences of Asians across the world.

Daisy Barringer is a writer who grew up in San Francisco and with deep respect and appreciation for the city’s Asian-American communities. She stands with everyone who has been impacted by the horrible hate and racism.