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Asian Americans in Hollywood Speak Out Against Racism with #WashTheHate Campaign

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Xenophobic and racist incidents targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities have been on the rise since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, the #The WashTheHate campaign encourages people to express 20-second messages of solidarity on social media while they wash their hands. Recently, the actors, performers, and broadcasters union SAG-AFTRA teamed up with Asian American celebrities to release a PSA urging people to take a stand against anti-Asian discrimination. 

As the PSA notes, Asian Americans currently face a surge in racist and xenophobic incidents as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread through the country. Incidents of being spit on, told to “go back to your own country” and more are almost commonplace. Earlier this year, incident reporting center Stop AAPI Hate had received over 1,000 reports of pandemic-related harassment and violence, spanning 45 states, in just two weeks. 

Celebrities such as Tzi Ma from Disney’s Mulan and LGBTQ+ activist Alok V Menon have filmed themselves washing their hands for 20 seconds and speaking out against hate towards AAPI communities as part of the campaign. In a video released on July 21, actors including Lucy Liu, Ken Jeong, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Jeannie Mai join them in encouraging watchers to take a stand against anti-Asian discrimination. 

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The surge in anti-Asian sentiment has also led to a rise in civic engagement in the AAPI community — something that has become apparent in the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd. In fact, a recent Pew Research study found that 75% of Asian Americans support Black Lives Matter. It’s clear the tensions over the last several months have encouraged more widespread intersectional activism in the US. Whether campaigns like #WashTheHate are effective in spreading awareness about anti-Asian racism, they are already successful in engaging the AAPI community to be even more active against racism, which is a success in itself.

Lakshmi Iyengar
    Lakshmi Iyengar is a Yenching Scholar studying health, economics, and modern China. Before moving to Beijing, she majored in Biomedical Engineering at Yale. Follow her on twitter @vlakshmiiyengar for insights on China and life