For more than a year, members of the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) community locally, nationally, and globally have been the victims of misplaced blame, harassment, and violent targeting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Metro acknowledges the grievous harm that has been done, and is still taking place, and commits ourselves to working with our employees and our community to make Metro, King County, and our region a safe place for everyone. Metro unequivocally supports our APIA community and denounces anti-Asian racism in the strongest terms. We cannot allow xenophobia and racism to ever be tolerated.
Long before “stay-at-home” orders or reduced capacity limits, Chinatowns and other areas with high concentrations of Asian-owned businesses across the country suffered drastic economic repercussions driven by ignorance, and often malice, too. Our region was not immune and areas like Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, the Rainier Valley, Great Wall Mall in Kent, and Bel-Red in Bellevue were severely hit. The loss of customers hurt Asian-owned businesses, but rooted in that loss of customers was the more painful accusations that APIAs were “responsible” for the virus.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, hate crimes against APIAs increased 150% across major US cities. More than a year later, the hate crimes continue and there have been horrific incidents, including Asian elders being assaulted in cities across America and even a hate crime in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District.
While the anti-Asian sentiment that has existed for generations has been recently exacerbated, it has also prompted the community to come together in the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity. Grocery delivery for APIA elders and late-night resource walks in the Chinatown-International District are two of the many hopeful examples of mutual aid and community support for the region’s APIA community.
We’re inspired by the bravery and kindness of the APIA community, and we all need to call out the violence and the hate, and to take action to end this dark time for too many of our friends, family, and neighbors in the APIA community. In addition, recognizing the effects of King County’s mandatory telework requirements had on the Chinatown-International District, given the number of County buildings nearby, Metro worked to add several important community-based organizations to the list of nonprofits that employees may contribute to through King County’s Employee Giving Program. Yet, more must be done.
At Metro, we urge everyone to report any racist or xenophobic language, acts, or violence on our transit system or anywhere. All of us have a say in who we are and what we stand for—as people, as an organization, and as King County. Let’s stand together against hate and, more importantly, for love.
Michelle Allison is Deputy General Manager for King County Metro.