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Local group continues effort to combat Asian Pacific Islander hate

Posted at 5:47 AM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 18:12:42-04

SHOREWOOD — This Asian Pacific Heritage Month, we are recognizing an organization created in the midst of this pandemic. Their goal is to combat hate in our community.

One year ago, the ‘Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Wisconsin’ was created.

We met with some of the founders, who show us what they are tracking.

While most people worried last year about getting sick from COVID, many Asian-Americans in our own community worried about micro-aggressions.

“Using words like ‘Wuhan Flu,’ ‘China Virus,’” said Lorna Young, AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin executive committee member.

Or even violent acts, adds Young, “Even in Shorewood, we heard that a group of kids was spitting on an older Asian couple right by Atwater Park."

“It dehumanizes and demeans a person’s identity,” said Pardeep Kaleka, AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin.

Lorna Young and Pardeep Kaleka say this is why ‘Asian American Pacific Islanders Coalition of Wisconsin’ was born last May.

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They are keeping track of xenophobic verbal attacks from Marathon County to Milwaukee. This includes a Milwaukee nurse enduring discriminatory remarks from patients who feared catching COVID-19 from Asian health workers.

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Racist graffiti was reported during this pandemic in Madison, Green Bay, Marathon County and Milwaukee.

Racist graffiti reported

Here are the specific accounts tracked by AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin:

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Pardeep Kaleka
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STOP Asian-American Pacific Islander Hate has tracked more than 1,700 reports of coronavirus discrimination from Asian-Americans Across the United States.

Young says many more just go under-reported, “Regardless of who they are or what their ethnicity is they can say hey that's happening is see it I'll call it out.”

“Unfortunately at this time we have to be serious about all levels of hate directed at any community,” said Pardeep Kaleka.

Kaleka knows this because nearly nine years ago, his family became victims of the deadly Sikh Temple shooting attack in Oak Creek. His father was killed and his mother survived, “Seven people lost their lives. It’s important to say you have a responsibility not only to yourself but your community to report this and let people know this is happening to keep the next person safe.”

Pardeep Kaleka

If you see something, you are urged to take action, even if that means bearing witness.

To learn more about the AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin, click here.

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