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Morning Brief: Debunking The ‘Model Minority’, Opening Libraries, And Art Rise 2021

Street art in the Arts District.
(Ric Berryman
LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s May 4.

As anti-Asian hate spikes in the U.S., many academics who study Asian or Asian American communities are rethinking their work as falling not just under the category of social science, but of racial justice as well.

My colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez spoke with a handful of local researchers, and many told him the same thing: it’s becoming clear that the racism faced by Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders is the same as the racism and discrimination faced by other communities.

According to those researchers, there are several immediate challenges in terms of getting more Americans on board with fighting anti-Asian hate in this moment of racial reckoning. The first, they say, is the myth of the model minority. This refers to an existing stereotype of the Asian community, which suggests that they have “been able to overcome racism by protecting the family structure and through hard work,” Adolfo writes.

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The second is the practice of lumping all Asian communities together, when there is a great deal of diversity. For that reason, researchers hope to better understand the needs of each group via details and anecdotes — not stereotypes.

Even as researchers progress with their work, though, more needs to be done to keep communities safe. According to data collected by the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate, 245 anti-Asian incidents were reported in L.A. between March and October of last year. Of those, 76% involved verbal harassment. Women reported twice as many incidents as men.

These numbers follow a national trend; between March 2020 and February 2021, the organization received 3,975 reports from around the country.

Local politicians are joining the effort to bring awareness and change; last week, L.A. Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu called on President Joe Biden to commit to stopping anti-Asian hate crimes in his first address to a joint session of Congress. During his speech, the president urged the House to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, already approved by the Senate, and to send the legislation to his desk as soon as possible.

Biden has taken action on the issue in the past, including earmarking funding for Asian American and Pacific Islander survivors of domestic or sexual abuse, reinstating and reinvigorating the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and establishing a task force to directly address xenophobia brought about by the coronavirus.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • For the second day in a row, L.A. County health officials reported no new COVID-19 deaths.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15.
  • The Los Angeles Public Library system began a phased reopening of the Central Library and 37 other branches for in-person services.
  • 22% of new COVID-19 cases around the country are now in children.
  • We held a virtual Q&A with higher education and employment experts to answer your questions about starting a new career. Here's a selection of advice they gave.
  • Many students and teachers who have returned to LAUSD campuses over the past month — some of whom have been working together for almost a full school year — are seeing each other for the first time.

Before You Go … This Week’s Outdoor Pick: Celebration Spectrum

Rendering of Party Mantras balloon for Grand Park's Celebration Spectrum
A rendering of 'Party Mantras' for Grand Park's 'Celebration Spectrum.'
(Courtesy of the Music Center)
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Grand Park and The Music Center present a month-long outdoor public art and sound installation for Art Rise 2021, part of the L.A. County Department of Mental Health’s We Rise initiative that encourages wellbeing and healing through art. Grand Park partners with dublab, artist Tanya Aguiñiga and curator Mark “Frosty” McNeill to showcase the work of more than 34 local artists.

Or, you could: See "The Little Mermaid" on the big screen. Hone your improv skills. Learn about the history of Cinco de Mayo — and celebrate the day. Watch a program on cinematic trans history. And more.

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