What Can Fashion Do To #StopAsianHate?
25 March 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
March has been a rough month for many marginalised groups across the globe, from Meghan Markle’s interview raising a divided backlash to the Sarah Everard spotlight on women’s safety and harassment. The third in this month’s unholy trinity has been a rise in crimes against the Asian community, particularly in the United States. A public outcry in awareness has been prevalent across many media outlets and industries, with fashion being no exception. What do we know about the growing situation and what can fashion be doing to help?
The impact of the #StopAsianHate movement has brough together fashion industry members from all different disciplines and countries, uniting in one message to spread awareness and create an effective call to action. Many, such as fashion designer Phillip Lim, shared personal stories in connection to the uptick, learning colleagues had been bullied and harassed in their own neighbourhoods. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen at a shocking rate, with the Stop AAPI Hate database reporting more than 2,800 accounts from March to December ’20 in the US alone. This has been cited to be fuelled by mass misplaced understanding following the spread of the virus, with hate, anger and frustration being projected onto communities themselves – many of which are elder. In the UK, the landscape looks slightly different, although the presence is extremely noticeable. The Met Police recorded 457 accounts between January and June of last year – including verbal harassment and refusal of service - with Dazed magazine reporting on the ‘undercurrent of racism’ since the virus outbreak began.
Should I say something?
With an outcry for action and frustration reaching breaking point, fashion industry members such as Susie Lau, Bryanboy, Aya Kanai and Tina Leung are among the voices calling for the global public to highlight issues of underlying racism to crack social myths the pandemic has all but exacerbated. Describing a build-up of ‘latent discrimination’, we know that there is no simple solution for stopping xenophobic attacks aimed at the Asian community. However, there are a number of actions those inside the fashion industry and beyond can take to help spread awareness long after the hashtag momentum and died down on social media. Designers, editors and businesspeople list actions such as sharing resources, encouraging those who experience or witness to come forward, staying informed and being actively engaged in local community efforts are all ways to ensure this attention is sustained. Donating to causes such as www.StopAAPIHate.org or similar organizations – which can be set up on a monthly basis – is an especially effective way for brands to show their words of solidarity are not empty and quickly forgotten about, which consumers will not. Particularly due to social justice events occuring over the last year, there is no longer a place for commercial support or activism without sufficient care or meaning behind it. Small brands and businesses have a perfect opportunity to bring attention to the causes that matter to them most, especially when customers will be looking to who speaks out, and who doesn’t.
Image source: https://www.instagram.com/cynthia.midori/