Prejudice and bigotry persist as obstacles to achieving a society where all individuals and groups feel safe and equal. In 1942, Japanese Americans lost their liberty following Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor when America ignored the Constitutional rights of some of its citizens in the wake of a barrage of racism. Today, anti-Asian sentiment continues to be directed at individuals and groups within the Asian American community.
JACL works to eradicate the use of negative stereotypes and misperceptions about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. To accomplish this, the JACL monitors and combats hate crimes and hate incidents including defamation and racial/ethnic profiling.
- Xenophobia and Population Visibility: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are easily identifiable by their physical appearance. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing population in the United States, especially in the states of California, Hawaii, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Washington.
- Economic and International Relations: When the U.S. economy declines or when an incident occurs involving as Asian nation, attention often shifts to the role other countries play in providing “unfair” competition or the negative impact of the incident. As a result, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are often perceived as “foreigners.”
- Media Portrayals and Public Perceptions: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are often portrayed in the media in a variety of contradictory stereotypes, ranging from the “model minority: at the head of their class in school, to the non-English speaking immigrant who may be perceive to be an undocumented worker. Asians are also characterized in film as unscrupulous businessmen and cruel mobsters or as compliant, and submissive and exotic. One-dimensional portrayals, coupled with the absence of accurate images and positive role models, obstruct public understanding of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and can contribute to an anti-Asian climate.
- Stereotype of the Asian Monolith: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are often perceived as a monolithic group despite extensive diversity within the community. Thus, even though an act of anti-Asian sentiment might be perpetrated with a particular ethnic group in mind (e.g., South Asian, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese), a failure to make distinctions between Asian American and Pacific Islander ethnic groups causes members of all groups to become potential victims.