TAAF Releases Statement and Rapid Response Toolkit in Advance of COVID-19 Origins Report From the White House

White House Release - Public Statement

WASHINGTON, DC, August 27, 2021

The White House today made public its report from the intelligence community regarding the origins of COVID-19. In response to the report, President of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), Sonal Shah, released the following statement:

“The ongoing quest to understand the origins of COVID-19 runs the risk of increasing hate and violence against AAPI communities across America. Even though the administration’s report today contains no clear conclusions, it will likely breed misinformation and fan the flames of anti-AAPI sentiment. Elected officials throughout the country must make clear that no matter how the pandemic started, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not to blame. I hope we can all agree that getting to the bottom of our public health crisis should not come at the expense of the safety of our fellow Americans.”

Earlier this week, TAAF announced its concern for this report’s impact on AAPI communities. TAAF also launched a digital Anti-Hate Rapid Response Toolkit this week in advance of the report in order to equip AAPI communities and allies with the tools and resources they need to address hate. Please see more details about that announcement below and let us know if you have any questions.

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The Asian American Foundation

TAAF Releases Statement and Rapid Response Toolkit in Advance of COVID-19 Origins Report From the White House 

Anti-Hate Toolkit Launched to Protect AAPI Communities and 
Highlight Proactive Measures for Addressing Hate

WASHINGTON, DC, August 24, 2021 — The Asian American Foundation ("TAAF"), a convener, incubator, and funder for the Asian American and Pacific Islander ("AAPI") communities, today shared a statement and launched its Anti-Hate Rapid Response Toolkit (the “Toolkit”) in advance of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 origins report (the “Report”).

The White House is expected to release this week the findings of a 90-day review on the origins of COVID-19. The Report is likely to include information from the Intelligence Community and the National Labs that could bring us closer to determining the origins of the virus. The White House Report arrives on the heels of the August 3 report on the origins of COVID-19 from the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul.

TAAF is deeply concerned that the debate over the origins of the pandemic — and some of the rhetoric driving the debate — could further fan the flames of anti-AAPI hate. Sonal Shah, President of TAAF, released the following statement in response to the Report’s release:

“Regardless of the findings of the White House report or any other, we cannot let the public health crisis continue to give way to a crisis of hate in AAPI communities. TAAF appreciates the Biden administration’s willingness to be as thoughtful as possible with the release of its forthcoming report, as it is incumbent on every public official at every level to understand that AAPI communities continue to be blamed and targeted for the pandemic. TAAF refuses to stand by as our communities are consistently attacked at alarming rates, and so we are putting the full weight of our nascent organization behind providing meaningful solutions for combating hate.”

TAAF has worked closely with the Biden administration and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (“CAPAC”) to raise awareness in advance about how the White House Report might be used to perpetuate anti-AAPI hate — which has been on the rise throughout the pandemic. The White House is also hosting a series of convenings with policy experts, TAAF grantees, local elected officials, and faith leaders who are working to better protect AAPI communities through policy solutions, solidarity, and allyship. 

In advance of the Report, TAAF launched a digital Anti-Hate Rapid Response Toolkit on Monday designed to equip the public, local officials, activists, and advocacy groups with culturally competent education and up-to-date safety resources for addressing anti-AAPI hate. TAAF moved quickly to build its Toolkit thanks to the input of several of its partners so that communities have access to the resources they might need to proactively address anti-AAPI sentiment in their communities or to respond to any incidents that may occur. TAAF continues to call on public officials to keep the safety of AAPI communities in mind as they investigate what led to the global health crisis. TAAF’s Toolkit provides victims of hate incidents and their allies with a comprehensive checklist of action items. It also includes guidance for individuals and community leaders to take action against anti-AAPI hate through engaging with public officials, the media, local law enforcement, and other key stakeholders. The toolkit is available on TAAF’s website.

TAAF and Stop AAPI Hate also collaborated to create, “Documenting Anti-AAPI Hate Codebook”, a joint effort to standardize how anti-AAPI hate is described and recorded. The Codebook also launched Monday and offers standards and recommended best practices for community-based data collection of anti-AAPI hate incidents. This resource provides key definitions and seeks to build trust, transparency, and accountability for improving anti-AAPI hate data quality. The Codebook is available on the TAAF website

About The Asian American Foundation (TAAF)

The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) is a convener, incubator, and funder committed to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for AAPI communities. TAAF supports advocates and organizations committed to AAPI causes so that together we can more effectively take action against hate and violence, and build the infrastructure needed to improve AAPI advocacy, power, and representation across American society. We were founded to solve for the longstanding lack of investment and resources provided to AAPI communities and we strive to be a catalyzing force for creating a permanent and irrevocable sense of belonging for the 23 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in the United States. The month of its launch, TAAF announced that through its AAPI Giving Challenge and donations from its Board it raised nearly $1.1 billion — the largest philanthropic commitment in history fully focused on supporting AAPI communities. For additional information about TAAF, please visit www.taaf.org.