Kaiser Permanente announced Monday it has committed $5.4 million to combat the surge in discrimination and hate crimes against Asian American-Pacific Islanders.

“Racial prejudice toward these groups predates the COVID-19 pandemic, but has recently increased as pejorative associations of COVID-19 and people of Asian heritage have fueled xenophobic, anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes,” Kaiser officials said in announcing the funding pledge.

The funds will go to two organizations that advocate nationally for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities: Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Stop AAPI Hate, according to Kaiser Permanente.

The goal is to help prevent further racist acts, provide interventions when they occur and promote healing in communities that have been discriminated against by supporting the rights, health and wellness of the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities, according to Kaiser.

“Kaiser Permanente recognizes the pain that many of our employees, members and communities are experiencing due to the unacceptable increase in assaults, harassment and hate crimes directed at people of Asian descent — including the tragic March 16 attacks in Atlanta,” said Greg A. Adams, Kaiser Permanente’s chair and CEO.

“As a health care organization, we understand that it is fundamentally impossible to achieve emotional or physical well-being when subjected to violence, racism and other forms of discrimination, and so we stand firmly against all forms of social injustice,” he said.

Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders represent 34% of Kaiser Permanente employees, and 23% of its 12.4-million-person membership.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, the group received reports of 3,292 incidents in 2020 involving verbal harassment, avoidance/shunning, physical assault, vandalism, and other forms of discrimination. Nearly 45% of those incidents took place in California.

AAJC, a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., will assist in redistributing grant funds to community-based organizations where Kaiser Permanente operates and will work with the four other independent organizations in the Advancing Justice affiliation.

“Advancing Justice AAJC is honored to be in partnership with Kaiser Permanente,” AAJC President and Executive Director John C. Yang said.

“Too often, Asian American communities are overlooked because of the harmful ‘model minority’ myth or targeted because of the perpetual foreigner stereotypes that exist,” he said. “This significant funding provides a robust opportunity to address anti-Asian hate through collaboration between local community organizations and a national response.”

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