The AAPI Experience

Social Justice Learning: adult

Today's Lesson: The AAPI Experience

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander people have been at the receiving end of a dramatic rise in discrimination, which is why we thought it was important to revisit the idea of race and racism in American. In this second look, we will be focusing on the diversity, the accomplishments, and the experiences of Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander people. We understand that these conversations can be difficult, and often we aren’t sure where to start. Below you will find a sampling of resources you can dive into right now.

Click here to return to the main page.

Learning Levels

Early Childhood Adolescent Adult


Anti-Asian hate takes its toll locally

Bulletin board full of notes explaining the hateful things people say
Damian Dovarganes/AP

A recent study from California State University finds anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in major U.S. cities rose 150% last year — even as overall hate crimes dropped 7%. And an analysis released in early 2021 by the group Stop AAPI Hate found nearly 3,800 self-reported cases of “hate incidents” against Asian Americans in the U.S. throughout the pandemic. David Chih, director of the Asian American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, shared with Illinois Newsroom that the rise in anti-Asian hate nationwide is taking a toll on the communities in east central Illinois, leading to feelings of anger, frustration and despair.


EXTRA CREDIT: Social Justice Books, a teaching for change project, has curated a list of books for adults that speak to the Asian American experience. You can view that list of suggested books here.



Asian Americans

This five-hour film series delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story. All episodes of Asian Americans are available to stream here.


EXTRA CREDIT: A recent string of attacks on elderly Asian Americans has brought attention to the rise of violence and harassment of Asian Americans. PBS Newshour put together a short video, along with resource materials, that can be viewed here.


Asian Women: The Toll of Decades of Dismissal

Woman with a mask holds two balloons, one says stop the hate, the other says love each other
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Sexism, racism, and invisibility have targeted Asian American women for decades. On this episode of The 21st, Asian women talk about finding their voices and power after decades of dismissal. Also joining the conversation, a licensed clinical psychologist in Urbana and the executive director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community in Chicago to talk about the history of anti-Asian sentiment in America and some solutions that may help change minds.



EXTRA CREDIT: Back in the summer of 2020, Bollywood stars Priyanka Chopra and Sonam Kapoor came under fire after speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement when many South Asians called them out for perpetuating skin-tone based standards of beauty themselves for having skin-care lines of whitening products and starring in ads for lightening creams. This episode of The 21st explores colorism.