This AAPI Heritage Month, I am reflecting not only on my Chinese roots, but also on how to practice intentional solidarity with other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

What does justice for AAPI communities look like? Will repeating #StopAAPIHate get us there? Or do we need a broader array of demands to ensure that all AAPI people are treated fairly and with dignity?

The #StopAAPIHate campaign has been an important first step in making violence against AAPI people visible and affirming they belong here. It has also led to important community safety initiatives like this senior escort program in San Francisco.

However, demanding people in power #StopAAPIHate will not lead to public policies that improve AAPI people’s safety or quality of life. The slogan corners lawmakers into passing laws aimed at cracking down on hate crimes, when there is evidence to suggest hate crime legislation is ineffective at protecting targeted people and can even make people less safe.

Justice for AAPI communities certainly includes an end to racist and xenophobic attacks against AAPI individuals, whatever that takes. (True justice, of course, would be for victims of anti-AAPI violence like Vicha Ratanapakdee or Xiaojie Tan to still be alive today.)

But AAPI Justice is also more holistic than “stopping hate.” At the very least, it includes fair housing and employment, a living wage, pay parity, language and education access, affordable healthcare, childcare and elder care, robust immigration and refugee assistance, and an end to punitive immigration enforcement.

But AAPI Justice is also more holistic than “stopping hate.” At the very least, it includes fair housing and employment, a living wage, pay parity, language and education access, affordable healthcare, childcare and elder care, robust immigration and refugee assistance, and an end to punitive immigration enforcement.

I understand why people are focused on interpersonal hate right now. When we express solidarity with AAPI communities, though, we must not forget the much wider range of systemic harms and injustices that threaten their livelihoods.

The pandemic has made it acutely clear that AAPIs face other threats. Chinese and South Asians have some of the highest COVID-19 death and hospitalization rates in New York City. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders have the highest COVID-19 death rates out of any other racial and ethnic group in California. Filipino nurses account for 4 percent of the nation’s nursing workforce but nearly a third of all nurses who have died of coronavirus.

Well before the pandemic, AAPI communities suffered from many social and economic inequities. Nearly half a million AAPI women work in the food services and personal care industries, where they are vulnerable to low, unequal pay and sexual harassment and exploitation on top of pandemic-induced unemployment. Many AAPIs also live in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods and face risk of eviction and displacement from their homes and small businesses. This is happening right here in Arlington.

Foreign-born and undocumented AAPIs face additional barriers to critical, life-saving services like healthcare, education, and public assistance. Southeast Asian Americans, including immigrants and refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, face disproportionately high poverty rates, low educational attainment rates, and high deportation rates. Over 58,000 undocumented AAPIs live in Virginia.

And because the majority of AAPIs are born in another country, the scope of issues that affect them is global. Again, the pandemic reveals this. Many of the 4 million Americans of Indian descent are deeply affected by the COVID-19 surge in India. AAPIs’ kinship with Asian and Pacific Islander people across the world has always made injustices abroad of domestic concern.

Practicing intentional solidarity with AAPI communities means bringing all these other injustices to light. It means demanding policy solutions that we know will result in safer, healthier outcomes for AAPI people. In politics as in life, we only get what we ask for. Let’s ask for policies we know will have a positive impact.

How do we know what will truly work for AAPI people? Follow their leadership. As Bryan Stevenson would say, get proximate. Get curious. Listen carefully. AAPI communities have been envisioning and demanding justice for as long as they have lived here. The goals and slogans of our solidarity should align with their priorities. After all, the people closest to the problems know how best to solve them.

It is only fit, then, for me to point you to some of the experts themselves. The following organizations inspire me to dream bigger for the movement for AAPI Justice. Behind each of their platforms are brave, brilliant AAPI people mobilizing to redress injustices in their own communities. I hope they inspire you, too.