This article is possible thanks to members of Community Health Plan of Washington’s (CHPW) Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
The AAPI community includes many different countries, cultures, and experiences—East Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, first-generation immigrant, longtime American citizens, and much more. Thank you for your time and generosity.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in Washington have faced unique challenges and forms of racism over time.
Some of these include:
- Chinese Exclusion Act: A United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers.
- Seattle Riot of 1886: Seattle’s Chinese residences were violently forced out of their homes and onto ships due to anti-Chinese sentiment and accusations of taking away jobs.
- Redlining: The practice of denying bank loans and home purchases has affected the Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese communities. Redlining was legal in Seattle until 1968.
- Internment: Anti-Japanese racism escalated to the United States’ policy of Japanese internment during World War II. Many Japanese residents of Washington were held at the Puyallup fairgrounds, or transported to California and interned there.
Although the AAPI community in Washington have faced many obstacles, they have responded to this treatment with resilience and empathy.
Here are some notable AAPIs from Washington:
- Bob Santos: A member of Seattle’s “Gang of Four,” Santos devoted his life to multiracial organizing in Seattle.
- Silme Domingo: A Filipino American labor activist, Domingo fought to reform discriminatory practices for Seattle’s cannery workers.
- Velma Veloria: A labor activist and Washington State Representative, Veloria is the first Filipina in the continental United States to be elected to a State Legislature.
- Wing Luke: As the first Chinese American to hold such office, Luke was elected to the Seattle City Council in 1962 and fought for civil rights.
In addition, our partner Community Health Center, International Community Health Services (ICHS), was founded by AAPI activists to bring quality health care to their communities. ICHS was a founding member of the Community Health Plan of Washington to increase health coverage for their patients.
Condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance
While the AAPI community has always faced discrimination and violence, this has significantly increased in the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably, there is a lot of grief and trauma in the community. CHPW seeks to raise awareness of this troubling increase in hate crimes and call upon us all to speak out against hate and the underlying causes of intolerance.
Looking for ways to support your AAPI neighbors?
Here are some organizations in Washington to know about:
- United Way of King County: Resources to Support Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities
- Seattle Refined: Asian-Owned Businesses & Restaurants in Seattle You Can Support Right Now
- Anti-Asian Violence Resources