‘This shared struggle’: AAPI advocates urge community to come together, push conversation forward

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, so 12 News got together with a couple of advocates from the community to discuss the term AAPI and the Stop Asian Hate movement.

Sarath Suong, national director of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network, said that while the movement has brought anti-Asian sentiment and violence into the spotlight, it’s a problem that’s been around for decades.

“Anti-Asian hate is nothing new to us as Southeast Asians,” he said. “What is new is the attention around it.”

Watch the full discussion in the video below.

Suong said it’s crucial to extend the conversation past individual acts of hate that make the news and think about the issue on a deeper, systemic level.

Chanda Womack, founding executive director of the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE), compared the movement to Black and Hispanic liberation, saying that ultimately, it comes down to eliminating white supremacy.

“We have to really come together with historically disenfranchised communities,” she said. “While the struggle looks different, we still have this shared struggle, and with AAPIs, we’re talking about historical exclusion.”

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