Following a year of xenophobic rhetoric and racist attacks amid the pandemic, Asian Americans have faced racist violence at a much higher rate than ever before. Last year, reported hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 150%. Many of these, specifically against the elderly and Asian-owned businesses, have occurred in our own communities.
And while we see anti-Asian violence happening nationwide, the appalling uptick in recent attacks has been particularly focused in the Bay Area. We watched in horror and disbelief as 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was shoved to the ground while taking his morning walk in San Francisco and subsequently died of his injuries.
The senseless violence continued this week in Atlanta when a gunman targeted three massage parlors to carry out the senseless murder of 8 people, including 6 Asian Americans. This act, which can only be described as domestic terrorism, adds to the horrifying count of recent and unprovoked attacks.
We are heartbroken and angered by these continued acts of injustice and violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. They are not just individual acts of hatred, but rather more evidence of deep-seated, systemic racism. Over the past few weeks, we’ve given our employees space to grieve and process these devastating events, but we recognize that we have the opportunity and responsibility to do more—and to be active contributors to the solution. Zendesk proudly stands with the AAPI community against racism, xenophobia, and all forms of discrimination. We cannot and will not be silent.
What we’re doing now
Last year, in the wake of the police brutality that led to the Black Lives Matter movement, and to acknowledge the deep and lasting impacts of institutionalized racism in America, we committed to taking sustained and concrete action as an anti-racist organization. However, being anti-racist means acknowledging the varying forms of racism and prejudice that multiple identities experience. Zendesk will continue to expand on these efforts to drive support for the AAPI community.
Here are some of the actions and resources we are currently making available to our employees and the wider community.
Support for our employees in critical moments
Last week, we hosted an Empathy Circle focused on xenophobia, racism, and violence against the AAPI community. We are also encouraging our employees to make use of the resources available to them, including a Combating Anti-Asian Racism Community Circle from Modern Health, our Employee Assistance Program, and access to mental health specialists. Our “Take what you need” time-off philosophy includes making space and time for employees to grieve and heal in their own way.
Ongoing investments in global diversity, equity, and inclusion
Last year, we published a formal Global Equity Policy to employees: A zero-tolerance stand against racist and discriminatory behaviors in the workplace. We believe that fostering belonging is the responsibility of all our employees and, by formalizing this policy, we’ve taken a concrete step in building a culture of respect and accountability.
In 2020, 89% of our people managers completed Equity, Justice, and Allyship training focused on racism and privilege. This year, we are continuing to invest in ongoing education that will ensure our people managers are equipped to handle and support these difficult and important conversations with their teams and colleagues.
In addition to our ongoing Social Impact commitments, the Zendesk Neighbor Foundation will distribute a $500,000 grant to organizations that support the AAPI community.
I want to reiterate the statement I shared in June 2020, that we are on a journey to do and be better. While we continue to make these important steps, we know there is still a long way to go, and we cannot overcome centuries of systemic global social injustice alone. Thank you to our employees, partners, and customers for being on this path with us and helping us all to strive to be better.
Resources to stop violence against the AAPI community
Here are some of the resources that we’ve collected and shared with our employees.
Organizations to support:
- Act To Change: A national non-profit organization working to address bullying, including in the AAPI community. See its “The Racism is a Virus Toolkit” to help combat racism.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Asian Law Caucus: The nation’s first legal and civil rights organization serving the low-income Asian Pacific American communities with a focus on housing rights, immigration and immigrants’ rights, labor and employment issues, student advocacy, civil rights and hate violence, national security, and criminal justice reform.
- Chinatown Community Development Center: The Chinatown Community Development Center (Chinatown CDC) is at the forefront of community advocacy, planning, and affordable housing development in San Francisco.
- Chinese Progressive Association: The Chinese Progressive Association educates, organizes, and empowers the low-income and working-class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective power, advocate for better living and working conditions, and achieve justice for all people.
- Compassion In Oakland: A group of volunteers offering up their time to patrol and protect the community
- Fundraising for Armed Patrol Security Guards for Oakland Chinatown
- Hate is a virus: started as a grassroots movement to combat racism and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) fueled by COVID-19, Hate is a virus has evolved into a sustainable organization that addresses xenophobia and hate in the AAPI and BIPOC communities.
- National Council of Asian Pacific Americans: a nonprofit organization that serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities through a coalition of 37 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country.
- Stop AAPI Hate: The Stop AAPI Hate reporting center tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in California and, where possible, throughout the United States.
Reporting anti-Asian hate crimes:
- NAPABA Hate Crimes Task Force
- Stand Against Hatred – Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Stop AAPI Hate
Read about, learn about, and support the Asian community: