Since our founding in 1990, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) has been dedicated to building democratic philanthropy to advance racial equity. AAPIP has continually worked from an intersectional racial justice perspective that informs and motivates our initiatives, campaigns, programs and partnerships both at the national level and through our eleven regional chapters. This Statement on Racial Equity in Philanthropy articulates long-standing principles that have guided our work as an identity-based affinity group of, by, and for people who identify as AAPI and fellow allies in the broader fight for racial equity.
1. AAPIs are a significant and diverse part of America’s multicultural fabric.
AAPIs are the fastest growing demographic group in the country. By 2040, one in 10 Americans will be AAPI representing more than 48 different ethnic groups and languages. Whether undercounted in the general population, misunderstood because of model minority stereotypes or deprioritized by funders and policymakers as a community without pressing needs, AAPIs cannot be ignored or rendered invisible.
2. We fight for racial justice and equity.
Structural racism impacts communities of color in different ways. AAPIs are simultaneously perceived as a monolithic model minority and as the perpetual foreigner. This marginalizes AAPIs by ignoring the complex experiences, needs, and contexts of over 48 different ethnic groups that encompass AAPI identity. It is also used to justify public policies and cultural narratives that hurt Black, Latinx, and Native communities. Indeed, the model minority myth is rooted in anti-Black racism. Anti-Black racism and anti-Native settler-colonialism, alongside orientalism, are the foundations of white supremacy. As AAPIs, we have a responsibility to acknowledge how we are both harmed by white supremacy and also how we are complicit in it. The model minority myth continues to be used to advance racist policies related to, for example, welfare reform, criminal justice system, and most recently the dismantling of affirmative action. At the same time, we are often treated as the “perpetual foreigner” helping to justify, for example, the Chinese Exclusion Act, incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW2, the racially-motivated murder of Vincent Chin and most recently, the Muslim Ban and targeted deportations of Southeast Asian refugees and undocumented AAPIs. And when philanthropy doesn’t recognize the fight for racial equity and justice is also our fight, they share responsibility for impacts that obscure our realities and perpetuate structural racism against AAPIs and all communities of color.
3. We stand in solidarity with fellow communities of color.
Our communities have been and will continue to be critical allies with all in the fight for racial equity and justice. AAPI communities have a long history of resisting racism alongside fellow communities of color, for example Farm Workers Movement, alliances to create Ethnic Studies in colleges, and more recently #ModelMinorityMutiny and #APIS4BlackLives. It is within this context of shared struggle that AAPIP, as a founding member of CHANGE Philanthropy, will continue to work intersectionally with identity-based partners including the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), Women’s Funding Network and committed allies to challenge philanthropy to advance equity, benefit all communities, and ignite positive social change.
4. We are strong partners in philanthropy’s pursuit of racial equity.
Our research on philanthropic giving shows less than 0.5 percent of foundation grantmaking goes to AAPI communities, the fastest growing demographic group in the U.S. with a corresponding growth in community issues and needs. In a racial equity impact analysis, intent doesn’t matter. Impact does. Regardless of intent, the impact of philanthropic inaction is that AAPI needs are not met, and AAPI voices are not heard. Achieving racial equity requires the leadership and participation of all communities, including AAPIs. We will continue to persist as a committed, unequivocal voice for AAPIs and all communities of color until racial equity and inclusion in philanthropy becomes the norm rather than a token trend.