What you should know about #HateIsAVirus

On January 28th, 2021, an 84-year-old Thai man was attacked in San Francisco. This unprovoked attack occurred in broad daylight, and the victim later died of the injuries he sustained. Sadly, this is not the only story of Asian American hate crimes, which have been escalating over the past year. According to Time Magazine, the New York Police Department has seen a 1900% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 alone. Many recent attacks have targeted elders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community but have gone ignored or excused in society. There are many organizations and communities in the AAPI and black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities that have stepped forward to battle the racism and hate fueling these attacks, and one in particular is #HateIsAVirus.


#HateIsAVirus is a non-profit organization founded by Tammy Cho and Michelle K. Hannabusa. According to its founders, the movement originally began in Michelle’s living room and was named by its Director of Social, Kari Okubo. The movement was brought to life in April 2020, following the rise of xenophobia and racism that were amplified by Covid-19. What started as a reactionary movement has become a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting minority communities. The ultimate goal of #HateIsAVirus is to raise awareness for hate crimes, stand with those affected, educate communities on ways to respond to hate, and donate to Asian-led businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.


Since its beginnings in April 2020, the #HateIsAVirus movement has raised over $30,000 to give back to BIPOC organizations across the country. So far, two virtual fundraising events have been held with supporters such as May Lee, Lidu Lin, Apollo Ohna, Sandra Oh, Maulik Pancholy, and many more. #HateIsAVirus is currently hosting their commUNITY Action Fund, an effort to raise $1,000,000 to give back to the community. Bling Empire star Kelly Mili even committed to matching the first $25,000 donated to the fund (which has been achieved already!).


When asked about their roles in the organization on Asian Boss Girl, Michelle explained that activism used to be hidden work and it wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement that people began claiming ownership of their efforts in public spaces. Tammy added that #HateIsAVirus is a “middle-man” organization between celebrities with larger reaches and smaller organizations doing the groundwork. Tammy also said #HateIsAVirus has seen their community grow with them thanks to wake up calls in 2020 and 2021. She explained that hate crimes in all BIPOC communities have pushed people to educate themselves in these issues and become more involved. 


Furthermore, Michelle and Tammy emphasized that #HateIsAVirus is continuously looking for ways to partner with other organizations in the BIPOC community to build a coalition and push for change. When asked on Asian Boss Girl about resources they recommended, they mentioned LA versus Hate (a resource to report hate crimes), Stop AAPI Hate (a national resource that raises awareness), Act to Change (a resource that addresses bullying among AAPI youth), and Nikkei Progressives (a resource that provides weekly education). All of these platforms create safe spaces for dialogue and education which are critical to driving awareness and speaking up.


#HateIsAVirus shares even more resources on their website because they understand that action steps are personal; not everyone wants to get involved in the same way. The organization provides further BIPOC support by standing with the Black community and urging people to fight xenophobia, racism, and hate no matter who it affects.


Now more than ever, we need to combat hate and support our AAPI and BIPOC communities. We must listen and ask ourselves what are the needs of these minorities? #HateIsAVirus is one of many organizations that exists to raise awareness and call people to action. If we all do a little bit of work every day, we can band together to create a vaccine against hate.


Key Terms: 

AAPI: Asian American and Pacific Islanders

BIPOC: black, Indigenous, and people of color (here’s a more in-depth article about the term in The New York Times)

Racism: “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” (Merriam-Webster)

Xenophobia: “fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners or anything that is strange or foreign” (Merriam-Webster)


Resources Mentioned:

LA vs. Hate

Stop AAPI Hate

Act to Change

Nikkei Progressives