March 10, 2021
Speaking Out Against Anti-Asian Violence

Statement from San Francisco Zen Center Leadership, in collaboration with the Central DEIA Committee and CAIC

With deep sorrow and grave concern, we acknowledge and bear witness to the alarming surge of hate crimes against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the US and in the Bay Area since the start of the pandemic.

In 2020, Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 3,000 reports of incidents against Asian Americans nationwide, and there have been over 700 reported attacks on people of Asian descent in the Bay Area alone. We understand that these attacks are vastly underreported by the victims, often due to language and cultural barriers. These attacks of hateful speech and physical harassment include the deaths of two elderly men, as well as the vandalism and burning of a Buddhist temple in LA.

Acts of violence and slander are being perpetrated against our neighbors, families, friends, and colleagues. Sadly, such acts of ignorance have been growing and encouraged to spread through the coded language of racism and xenophobia.

We understand there exists a long and painful history of racism and exclusion of AAPI communities in the US, compounding the trauma of recent events. And, like other marginalized groups, AAPI have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, due to many being nurses and other health care workers, or low-wage workers in hard-hit sectors of the economy.

The leadership of the San Francisco Zen Center denounces acts of hatred against people of Asian descent, as well as against Black, Indigenous, and all people of color, who have suffered from centuries of systemic racism, oppression, and exclusion in a white supremacy culture.

Some actions we are taking ourselves, and which we encourage you to do, include: becoming more informed about racism in general, and about how racism has specifically impacted AAPI; checking in with our neighbors, friends, and students of Asian descent and offering support; and, most importantly, finding ways to interrupt hateful acts whenever and wherever they occur. (See below for a list of further actions and resources.)

The Buddha taught, “The pathway of compassion for all is a 10,000 mile-long iron road.” This road often feels hard and unyielding, especially as we encounter difficulties and resistance within ourselves, in our relationships, and in the world.

But this long journey is also one of wisdom, love, and the deep joy of mutual generosity, as we work together for the benefit and healing of the world. We are grateful to walk this path with you.

With bows,

San Francisco Zen Center Leadership,

in collaboration with the Central DEIA* Committee and CAIC**

*DEIA = Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

**CAIC = Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity Committee

Things you can do

1. Reach out to friends and family members of Asian descent

  • You might say something like, “Are you OK?” or “Would you like to talk” or “This must be tough and I’m sorry you are going through this” or ‘”I don’t know exactly what you are going through, but I am always here to help” or “You really matter to me” or “How can I help, if at all.”
  • What leaders can do – The simplest thing managers and organizational leaders can do for their Asian American employees is to use their privilege to acknowledge the recent news of anti-Asian violence, and give space for impacted individuals to process, grieve and heal. (Read: How to support Asian American Colleagues by Jennifer Liu, CNBC)
  • Hold a ceremony to honor and remember victims of anti-Asian hate crimes
  • Support Asian-owned local businesses (e.g., SF Chinatown is struggling)

2. Raise awareness, speak up, and condemn anti-Asian racism

  • Participate in non-violent protests and spread the word about when they are happening

3. Report Instances of anti-Asian violence

4. Receive Bystander Intervention Training

5. Learn about AAPI and discrimination

6. Support, donate, and volunteer with organizations working to overcome racism towards AAPI

  • Hella Heart Oakland supports mental health and wellness initiatives for Asian/Asian American women and girls in Oakland who may suffer from mental illness and other hardships.
  • Compassion in Oakland provides the Oakland Chinatown Community with a resource for promoting safety and community to the forgotten, underserved, and vulnerable.
  • 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.
  • Act To Change a national nonprofit organization working to address bullying, including in the AAPI community. They published”The Racism is a Virus Toolkit” to support the community in combating racism.
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice a national nonprofit organization that focuses on housing rights, immigration, civil rights, labor rights, and others for Asian Americans
  • 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.

Press Release, Data

Other Resouces Website