The Asian community in the U.S. has been targeted by a dramatic rise in hate crimes over the past year, not helped by the fact that former President Donald Trump often referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus." The incidence of hate crimes against Asian-Americans rose by 149% in 2020 in 16 major cities compared with 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. On March 16, a shooting at three Atlanta massage parlors that has been suspected to be racially motivated left eight people dead, six of them Asian women.
88rising, which includes a record label and management company with signees like Joji and NIKI, initially faced backlash for its response to the shooting: posting a yellow square to its official Instagram, reminiscent of the ill-received black squares that swept social media amid the Black Lives Matter protests last June, clogging hashtag feeds that were intended to disseminate resources. 88rising's post has since been deleted.
"We made a mistake with our previous post and we're sorry for the pain this has caused," the company wrote in a March 19 apology on Instagram. "We have come together as a company to focus on our responsibility to use our platforms to raise awareness, and we can't do this alone. We are committed to joining you in this conversation of denouncing anti-Asian hate, and taking action."
In the apology post, 88rising also pledged to donate $100,000 total to AAJC, AAJC Atlanta, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum and the Asian Mental Health Collective; and sponsor paid days off for its team to volunteer with local AAPI organizations, in addition to announcing the conversation with Yang that would become the basis of 88rising Speakers.
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