State Reps. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) and Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) today introduced legislation that will create the Ohio Asian-American and Pacific Islander Affairs Commission and the Office of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Affairs to address the injustices of the past and understand the unique difficulties in addressing the needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander population in Ohio.
The announcement comes after a mass shooting in Atlanta, Georgia that resulted in the deaths of eight people, with reports saying six of the victims were Asian. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased significantly over the past year, with some major cities seeing spikes as high as 150%. More than 3,800 racist incidents targeting Asians were reported from March 19, 2020 through February 28, 2021, with more than 500 of them happening in the new year alone.
“There are more than 350,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Ohioans, who have the right to live the American Dream, right here at home with safety and security. Across the state we have witnessed countless incidents of violence, verbal abuse, and profiling against our sisters and brothers who identity as AAPI since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Howse. “It is our duty as elected officials to do our part to fight racism and support our AAPI communities by creating this commission and building unity throughout our state.”
“The 35th District has a rich and thriving Asian culture. The families are hard-working Americans who simply want to raise their children in a safe environment. They believe in community. They have a strong work ethic and they are in touch with me about ways of improving the community to make it more inclusive. Establishing this commission will ensure that previous and current injustices are addressed and rectified,” said Rep. Galonski.
The primary responsibilities of this new commission would be to:
- Gather and disseminate information concerning Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders
- Stimulate public awareness and advocacy of the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through education
- Coordinate and assist other public and private organizations that serve Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders
- Advise the governor, general assembly, and state departments and agencies on the priorities of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders populations
- Promote the delivery of state services across diverse communities
- Provide resources for culturally appropriate organizations and language services
This legislation serves as a logical step in tackling the issue of examining racial inequality in the state of Ohio.