May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
Although it’s a time of celebration, the AAPI community has faced many adversities.
Hate crimes in California have reached the highest levels since 2001— jumping almost 33% from 2020 to 2021, according to the Governor’s office.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new statewide hotline and website called CA vs. Hate, to report hate acts in California.
“I usually don't support Gavin Newsom, but I think it's a great idea. I think it's a good resource to have in SLO County and everywhere, honestly," said Stephanie Castro, San Luis Obispo County resident.
“It's great for, you know, outreach to make things like that apparent to officials that need to know about it," said Shehan Moonesinghe, San Luis Obispo resident.
According to a national report from "Stop AAPI Hate," from March 19, 2020, to December 31, 2021, a total of 10,905 hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander persons were reported — 4,632 occurred in 2020 and 6,273 occurred in 2021.
One local organization is striving to stand up against AAPI hate and has created a space on their website where people can report local hate incidents.
“The hate incidents, the small microaggressions, anything from microaggressions to physical attacks — anything within that range [can be reported]. None of those are recorded and there's no way to kind of gauge the climate of this county," said Mia Shin, AAPI SLO co-founder.
Shin knew there was an urgent need for a way to report hate incidents in San Luis Obispo County, which led her to contact the national organization Stop AAPI Hate.
“I asked if we could template the questions that they have so that we can kind of collaborate together and if there’s information gathered here, that we can share that with them, share the data with them," Shin added.
It was more than just launching an online tool.
“Sometimes speaking out about our experiences could be gaslit or undermined. So this hate form does give us the opportunity to validate those experiences," said Kaela Lee, AAPI SLO co-founder.
“We ask, for instance, was it a shunning of some sort? Was it a comment that was made? Was it a physical act? Were you spat upon?" Shin explained.
The hate incident form includes multiple questions and the user can choose to stay anonymous or be contacted.
“I really do want San Luis Obispo County to be a welcoming space where everyone feels like they belong and they can feel safe," Shin said.
AAPI SLO told KSBY they are also all about celebrating their culture and empowering one another. From noon to 3 p.m. on May 13, they will be having a festival at the SLO Public Market that will include live entertainment, food vendors, art and more.