Some of the richest and most influential Asian-American business leaders are crafting an ambitious plan to tackle anti-Asian discrimination, rewrite school curricula to reflect the role of Asian Americans in history, and collect data to guide decision-makers.
The group has pledged $ 125 million to a newly created initiative, the Asian American Foundation. The foundation raised an additional $ 125 million from organizations like Walmart, Bank of America, the Ford Foundation and the National Basketball Association.
It is the largest philanthropic gift going to Asian Americans, who make up about 6% of the US population but receive less than 1% of philanthropic funding.
The effort comes amid a wave of violence against Asian Americans. In the past year, hate crimes against Asian Americans have jumped 169%, according to a study from the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, which tracks crimes in 15 major American cities. In New York City, hate crimes increased even more, by 223%.
Donors to the foundation include Joseph Bae, the co-chairman of private equity firm KKR; Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder of Care.com Caregiver Market; Li Lu, founder and chairman of the Himalaya Capital hedge fund; Joseph Tsai, co-founder and executive vice president of Chinese tech giant Alibaba; Jerry Yang, the co-founder of Yahoo; and Peng Zhao, managing director of market maker Citadel Securities. The group’s advisory board includes Indra Nooyi, the former president and CEO of PepsiCo; Jeremy Lin, the professional basketball player; and Fareed Zakaria, the journalist.
Donors to the new foundation say Asian Americans face discrimination and challenges that have long been overlooked by policymakers and philanthropists.
Asian Americans are often stereotyped as prosperous and wealthy. This “persistent and powerful model minority myth” reveals “a lack of understanding of the disparities that exist,” said Sonal Shah, chairman of the Asian American Foundation.
In New York City, Asian Americans are gaining a disproportionate number of places in the most prestigious and exclusive public schools. But while Asian Americans make up 12% of the American workforce, they make up just 1.5% of Fortune 500 business leaders. Among all ethnic and racial groups in the United States, Asians have the largest income gap between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, according to Pew Research. Asian Americans hold only 3% of seats in Congress.
The donors behind the new initiative are inspired by a recent effort by prominent black leaders, who have campaigned against voting bills in Georgia and elsewhere that disproportionately harm black voters, pushing a large part of American companies to join them.
“They feel the urgency of the present moment because they realize that racism transcends class and success in America,” said Darren Walker, CEO of the Ford Foundation.
If the new initiative supports political candidates or legislative proposals consistent with its mission, it may have to deal with the political diversity of Asian Americans. And the current composition of the wealthy cadres at the head of the plan seems to lean strongly towards East Asian men, which could dampen the enthusiasm of groups such as Hmong Americans or Vietnamese Americans, who are not not always included in conversations about Asian-American identity.
Asian Americans were once a reliable Republican electoral bloc, but that has changed in recent years. Asian Americans voted overwhelmingly for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the presidential election, polls show. But a closer look reveals differences between the groups.
Mr. Biden was favored by about two-thirds of Indo-Americans who voted, according to the Asian American Voter Survey. Chinese Americans favored Biden 56%, but up to 23% said they were undecided. Vietnamese Americans preferred Donald J. Trump by 48% to 36% for Mr. Biden, the others being undecided.
Another part of the initiative’s mission will be to reshape the public’s understanding of the unique challenges Asian Americans have faced throughout the country’s history. The new foundation has contributed to the Asian American Education Project, which is working with PBS on the “Asian Americans” series and developing lesson plans for K-12 teachers that highlight the experiences of the teacher. group.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a part of American history and culture,” said Ms. Shah. “It is time for our history to be synonymous with the history of America.”