TRENTON, NJ – On the eve of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, members of a newly formed legislative caucus hosted a roundtable on Friday to talk about ways to combat the rise in violence, discrimination and hate-based rhetoric towards people of Asian American and Pacific Island descent.
Members of the Asian American Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, formed to raise visibility and improve understanding, as well as to foster more positive dialogue and communication and push back against hate, led the discussion, which also included other lawmakers, advocates, and federal Representative Andy Kim (NJ-03), the only Asian-American member of the State's congressional delegation.
"Confronting the rise of AAPI hate and violence is going to take all of us – at every level of government – working together to find solutions," said Kim. "I'm proud to see the hard work being done right here in New Jersey by the Asian American Legislative Caucus. Conversations like these matter and make a difference, and I'm proud to partner with this esteemed group of leaders to lift these issues up and give voice to our neighbors who need it in this moment."
Asian Americans make up a sizable part of New Jersey's diverse population, about 10 percent of the total, and have been central to its growth, culture and vitality for many years, caucus members said. Even so, a report by Jersey Promise, an advocacy group for people of Asian origin or descent, said that Asian-Americans continue to be "the least understood and least studied community" among Garden State policymakers and stakeholders.
"The rise in hate crimes against members of the Asian American community has been a disturbing trend over the past year that needs to be addressed immediately," said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex / Mercer), who serves as a member of the caucus. "We as Americans must support our fellow citizens against all forms of discriminatory and racist behavior. Our communities need to be safe for individuals of all races and ethnicities to live comfortably, not fearfully. We will not tolerate hate."
"Today's conversation is the first of many the Asian American Caucus will have on the issues concerning our diverse communities," said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Hudson). "With intelligent, informative dialogue comes the opportunity to teach and change stigmas and to combat hate. New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation and the launch of this Caucus celebrates that diversity."
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