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UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center Shares $1.4 Million in State Funding to Address COVID-19

Melany De La Cruz-Viesca and Jessica Wolf via UCLA Health

The UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the Stop AAPI Hate coalition have received $1.4 million in funding from California to support community programs and ongoing research that address the impact of COVID-19 on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including new research and analysis into hate incidents.

The funds also will support the Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate website and the COVID-19 Multilingual Resources website, which was developed by faculty from the Asian American Studies Center and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

“COVID-19 has had devastating and disparate impacts on many Asian American and Pacific Islander communities alongside other communities of color,” said Karen Umemoto, holder of the Helen and Morgan Chu Endowed Director’s Chair of the Asian American Studies Center. “With this funding, we can produce research to help with more-targeted recovery efforts in the hardest-hit communities. It will also critically support our TranslateCOVID.org website, as we work to get important fact-based vaccine and other life-saving information to non-English speakers.”

The center’s website translates COVID-19 medical facts into dozens of languages to advance efforts to get evidence-based information to people who are often isolated by language barriers from public health messages.

Also of paramount importance is combatting the disturbing rise in hate incidents directed at members of AAPI communities.

Cynthia Choi of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Manjusha Kulkarni of Asian Pacific Policy Planning Council and Professor Russell Jeung of San Francisco State University established the online Stop AAPI Hate reporting center to gather incidents of and respond to racial discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders sparked by COVID-19. 

“In the past year, we have seen that it is absolutely critical to invest in tracking the number of hate incidents against Asian Americans that are taking place. Documenting and analyzing the attacks — both in California and across the country — has enabled us to draw attention to this crisis, ensure that our community is not ignored, and advocate on its behalf,” said the Stop AAPI Hate coalition. 

“The funding allocated for Stop AAPI Hate will support the coalition’s efforts to address these harms across the country. It will enable us to continue to track and document incidents of anti-Asian American hate — helping to proactively address future incidents from occurring. This funding will also allow us to expand the resources we can offer directly to impacted community members and families, as well as establish new partnerships with organizations, businesses and governments to develop long-lasting policy and community-based solutions to hate and violence.”

The budget allocation for AASC and Stop AAPI Hate was championed by California Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), chair of the assembly’s budget committee; Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance); State Senator Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento); and other members of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

“The UCLA Asian American Studies Center has been a leader for over 50 years in producing policy research on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,” Muratsuchi said. “The studies they will be conducting will ensure that our public policies effectively reach the most impacted AAPI communities in dealing with hate crimes, COVID-19 and economic recovery efforts.”

With this funding, the Asian American Studies Center will continue its commitment to research into subjects like housing and employment, building off previous work from a variety of affiliated faculty including UCLA urban planning scholar Paul Ong, who has examined how the pandemic has impacted Asian-owned businesses, homeowners and renters.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill to finalize the budget allocation Feb. 23.

“New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer,” Ting said.

Representatives from UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center and Stop AAPI Hate expressed gratitude for the support from State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), chair of the senate committee on budget and fiscal review, Newsom and the entire Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

“The history of the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the United States has been punctuated by times of racism and hate … most recently, attacks and murder of API seniors incited by racist rhetoric about the COVID pandemic,” said Pan, chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

He continued: “I am grateful that California will be funding data collection and research at UCLA to address racism and hate against the API community thanks to the leadership of Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting.”

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