Stop AAPI Hate Sponsors New Legislation – Golden Gate Xpress

Welcome to Gator Talk, a collaborative CalState podcast that brings citywide and statewide perspectives to SF state news.

Last month, new California legislation was introduced to help prevent harassment in public places. The non-profit organization Stop AAPI Hate sponsored both bills, with a third similar bill being finalized. Myron Caringal, Diversity Editor and Guest, sat down with State SF Professor and Stop AAPI Hate Co-Founder Dr. Russell Jeung.

Check out the story here at Gator Talk.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Introduction

Chris: Happy Friday, Alligators! Meet Chris Ramirez, editor and your host for Gatortalk, the podcast where honestly, T-Pump Tuesdays are the only thing that gets us through the week. With me today is Myron Caringal, Diversity Editor at Xpress and today’s guest.

Myron: Hello, everyone.

Chris: For more news/coverage check goldengatexpress.org OR @GGXnews on all social media platforms.

Preview of the show

Chris: Today’s main story focuses on two new California bills introduced last month that aim to help prevent harassment and discrimination in public places. Myron sat down with Stop AAPI Hate co-founder and SF State own Dr. Russell Jeung.

So let’s go.

main story

Chris: Xpress featured Dr. Jeung on Gator Talk last semester when he was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year. Side note: if you haven’t listened to this episode, you probably should. But anyway, Myron, what has Dr. Jeung been up to since the last time we had him on the show?

Myron: When we last had him on the show, Dr. Jeung was on sabbatical working full-time for Stop AAPI Hate and doing other research. Dr. Jeung published a national report with Stop AAPI Hate and wrote an article with SF State students about the nonprofit organization’s youth campaign. He’s back to teaching now – but his main job is still with Stop AAPI Hate.

Cris: Interesting. Tell me more about this report.

Myron: The report found that approximately one in five Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experienced a hate incident from March 2020 to September 2021. This equates to nearly five million AAPI people experiencing racism worldwide country.

Chris: Hmm. And that only takes reported incidents into account, right?

Myron: That’s right. So it may not even be close to the actual number.

Myron: Most hate incidents were in the form of verbal harassment and avoidance, while physical harassment was the third most reported. The majority of these incidents occur in public places, such as streets and businesses.

Myron: And 62% of all reports…come from women.

Chris: So Myron, how do these findings translate into legislation?

Myron: There are two bills, both sponsored by Stop AAPI Hate. The first bill, SB-1161, focuses on preventing street harassment in transit districts.

[interview audio begins]

Jeung: So eight percent of cases of racist incidents happen in public transportation, like Muni and BART, and we are concerned about passenger safety. Most transit systems think of rider safety in terms of physical safety, like avoiding accidents, but for us, rider safety means being safe from harassment and assault. And so this bill would require the 10 major transit agencies to consider and study the safety of their riders and it is co-sponsored by the Los Angeles subway system.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: So the bill would require the top 10 transit agencies to collect ridership data – data based on things like race, sex, gender identity, age and sexual orientation – and to study the harassment suffered in relation to the data. Agencies should then create initiatives based on the data they have collected to help prevent harassment on public transport.

Chris: Since SF State is largely a suburban school, I’m curious: Are any San Francisco transit agencies included in this study?

Myron: According to the 2020 UCLA report, Transit Blues in the Golden Stateit would include Muni, BART and CalTrain.

Chris: And what about the second bill?

Myron: The second bill, AB 2549, was co-drafted by Asian, African American, and Latino lawmakers — all people of color — and it aims to prevent street harassment by approaching it as an issue of public health.

Chris: It’s interesting that it’s a public health issue. What is the reasoning behind this?

Myron: Well, it can be complicated to criminalize verbal harassment — criminalizing it just isn’t feasible. So, instead of trying to enforce and punish people for harassment, this bill would include street harassment in the state’s public health code and address it as such.

[interview audio beings]

Jeung: By doing so, by defining it in the public health code and encouraging the public health department to raise awareness about it, I think it’s an effective way to educate the community about our societal standards in California. Yeah, so I think, again, it’s really innovative in that it takes a public health approach to racism, and it defines bullying as evil, and it seeks to change the norms about our treatment of women and other groups.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: And if passed, starting next year would require the California Department of Public Health to conduct a five-year, statewide public campaign to raise awareness of street harassment and, by extension, preventing and mitigating the problem.

— Chris: We’re going to take a little break —

Break

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[break ends]

Main Story Suite

Chris: Myron, you told me earlier that the texts of the bills focus heavily on harassment against women of color. Why was it important to include this in the act?

Myron: Well, Dr. Jeung said that…

[interview audio begins]

Dr. Jeung: There has been a consistent trend of women reporting harassment twice as much as men, and we know that women and women of color are particularly vulnerable to this harassment. We have therefore proposed all our legislation to combat sexual harassment.

Dr. Jeung: We find that Asian American women are disproportionately affected, but we know that this issue affects other women of color and women in general and other vulnerable populations. So we build coalitions by having them sponsored by women legislators of color and trying to promote safety for all.

[interview audio ends]

Chris: And what does the timeline look like for these bills?

Myron: It might take some time, but with the growing awareness of anti-Asian racism, Dr. Jeung hopes the three will be successful this year.

Chris: There’s a third bill?

Myron: Well, not yet. It is being finalized and he hopes it will be presented soon. It will focus on the prevention of harassment in large companies.

[interview audio begins]

Dr. Jeung: Basically, the idea is that customers experience a lot of harassment in stores, as do workers. That’s why we’re looking for employers to protect their employees and customers from this type of harassment. And the idea is to do this by alerting managers on how to fight against harassment and by setting up signage.

But the general idea is that we want to force large companies to once again protect the safety of their workers and employees against harassment and the safety of customers against harassment.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: This should protect a lot of marginalized populations since they constitute a large part of the working class. But, we’ll have to wait and see what the bill really entails when it’s officially introduced.

[interview audio begins]

Dr. Jeung: The racism that Asian Americans experience isn’t all hate crimes, hate crimes you could get arrested for, they’re just a fraction of what’s going on.

And so what we’re trying to do is expand civil rights for Asians and everyone else, and then proactively promote government protection of those rights. So I think this legislation is kind of innovative in that it expands civil rights, it recognizes the gender-based violence that women and other communities face, and covers more of the racism that Asians have experienced during COVID -19 than the simple crime.

[interview audio ends]

Chris: In the meantime, what next for Stop AAPI Hate?

[interview audio begins]

Dr. Jeung: We will try to continue to expand our civil rights, this is an area we are working on. Second, we really want to develop ethnic studies. We are therefore organizing a national summit in June. We are going to offer a toolkit for people who want to organize for ethnic studies. Again, we really want to highlight the great heritage of the state of San Francisco and its emphasis on the racial experiences of people of color. And so we’re going to promote that. And then, third, we will continue to work to promote community safety in a non-prison, non-police way.

[interview audio ends]

Myron: Dr. Jeung said Stop AAPI Hate is rooted in the legacy of the Third World Liberation Front and the Black Student Union strike of the 1960s, and he hopes to continue that legacy through his work with the non-profit organization and with the help of SF State students.

Brief news

Chris: Here are some other things that happened this week:

The California Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by UC Berkeley to freeze its enrollment, forcing it to cut 3,000 admissions slots for the next academic year. The move comes after a Berkeley neighborhood group filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming its enrollment expansion plan failed to consider environmental impact.

The CSU Board of Trustees announced Wednesday that it will hire a third-party law firm to conduct an investigation into former Chancellor Joseph I. Castro and Fresno State University. The board also said it would conduct a Title IX assessment and the assessment would begin this month.

To finish

And that’s all I have! Meet Chris Ramirez, editor and your host for GatorTalk.

New episodes will air every other weekend, so keep an eye out.

And with that, I go out.

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