AAPI Does Not Apply to All Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Trigger Warning: mention of violence and hate crimes.

These past couple of weeks, we have been hearing about multiple attacks against Asians. We have heard about the elderly Asian woman in San Francisco who was beaten so severely that she ended up with two black eyes. We have heard about the Filipino man in the New York City subway that was attacked with a box cutter. We have heard about the mass shooting in Atlanta where six out of the eight victims that were killed were Asian. It is important that we make others aware of the discrimination and violence that the Asian community has been facing, and it’s just as important to emphasize that we need to eradicate this hate. One of the phrases used to discuss anti-Asian hate is, “Stop AAPI Hate,” in which “AAPI” stands for Asian American, Pacific Islander. When this phrase is used to discuss anti-Asian hate, it is only partially true. 

While the two communities are often lumped together, there is a difference: people from the continent of Asia are Asian, while those who are from the regions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are Pacific Islanders. Some of the numerous Pacific Island nations are Tahiti, Samoa, and Tonga. Some notable Pacific Islanders are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dinah Jane Hansen, and even the fictional character, Moana. Recently, the media has been covering the increase of attacks on Asian people, yet using the phrase “AAPI” in this context would not be appropriate. 

Actress and content creator, Asia Jackson, has recently brought this up. In a tweet from March 20, Jackson tweeted, “‘AAPI’ is not a more politically correct way of saying ‘Asian American’. Asian American and Pacific Islander are two different identities. If you are referring specifically to attacks against Asians, it’s okay to just say Asian.” She even replied under the tweet holding the company, Apartment Therapy, accountable. In a post from March 18, the company posted a photo titled, “5 Ways to Support the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community Right Now.” One of the methods Apartment Therapy suggested was to support Asian-owned businesses. In regards to this, Jackson said, “But not Pacific Islander owned businesses? Like if you mean Asian then just say that, no need to use AAPI when the context is very specific.” 

That being said, avoid mentioning Pacific Islanders when discussing the hate against Asians. The victims of these recent and numerous racist attacks have been solely Asian-not Pacific Islanders. While you might think that you are being more politically correct, using the phrase “Stop AAPI Hate” is misleading in the context of these recent acts of violence.