Kim, lawmakers explain need to act after rise in hate crimes

Rep. Kim’s bill would educate in effort to end hate

HARRISBURG, May 23 – In an effort to improve education and address the increase of hate crimes, including the drastic jump in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, State Rep. Patty Kim took part in a rally and news conference Monday calling for the General Assembly to pass H.B. 1917.

“About one year ago, following the deadly shooting in Atlanta where a gunman killed eight women – including six women of Asian descent – I joined lawmakers in participating in a listening tour involving the Asian community across the commonwealth,” Kim said. “People were fearful, people were frustrated and one of the topics that kept coming up was the need to educate to combat the hate. Asian Americans are tired of seeing their children bullied in our schools and being perceived as ‘forever foreigners’ in their own country.”

House Bill 1917 would require the Department of Education to create an integrated curriculum including Asian American Pacific Islander people, history and contributions to American society. Kim noted that although she would prefer a requirement, her bill is merely an urging for schools to incorporate AAPI teaching into their curriculum.

“I look forward to the day when children growing up in my district -- and throughout our state -- can recognize themselves in the lessons that are taught,” said State Sen. Nikil Saval, who announced he will join State Sen. Maria Collett in introducing companion legislation to Kim’s bill in the State Senate. “I applaud Representative Kim for her initiative to ensure that future generations of Asian Americans can understand their work as part of a community that is expansive and longstanding.”

Parents, students, state officials and fellow lawmakers joined Kim at a rally and bipartisan news conference advocating for the General Assembly to support H.B. 1917.

“Asian American Pacific Islanders are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, and it’s our obligation as legislators to make sure that their contributions to the American story are taught in our schools for future generations,” said state Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery.

Stephanie Sun, executive director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, asked where Asian American children find their heritage and pride. 

“How can they find their place in this culture when they cannot find themselves in their school’s textbooks?” Sun asked.

Many of the day’s speakers mentioned the numerous AAPI contributions they did not learn in school, despite being an important part of their family’s history and American culture.

“We are looking to integrate these contributions as part of history because Asian American history is American history,” Make Us Visible PA co-founder Ji Hyun Denise Hellenbrand said. “The passing of House Bill 1917 is so important to me, my family and my community because it is the one way we can establish long-term, preventative measures against future Asian American bullying and violence.”