By ELLEN ENDO, Rafu Shimpo

When Asians began immigrating to the U.S. in the mid-1800s, they faced prejudice and violence. American politicians, fearing that the Chinese and Japanese would take their jobs and their land, began passing laws like the Page Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to discourage immigration.

Although such laws have since been repealed, the racism that fueled the bigotry and anger are manifested today as hate crimes targeting marginalized people, including those of Asian descent.

Blake Chow

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the fate of affirmative action in college admissions. Justices are considering two cases challenging the ways in which race is factored into admissions decisions. One case alleges discrimination against Asian American applicants.

Meanwhile, the California State Library invited ethnic publications to explore the subject of anti-Asian hate in depth. Among those taking up the challenge was The Rafu Shimpo, which published its most ambitious single-issue projects to date.

Along with the special edition, a series of “Stop the Hate” community conversations examining the history of racism and how to recognize and combat anti-Asian hate has been launched. The next one is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, at 4 p.m. at the Araki Education Center, Japanese American National Museum, First Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo.

Ron Wakabayashi

The conversations will delve into the origins of hate; explain when a crime becomes a hate crime; and offer suggestions as to how to raise awareness and educate others.

Featured speakers include Ronald Wakabayashi, former Western regional director, U.S. Department of Justice, and Deputy Chief Blake Chow, Los Angeles Police Department.

Chow is the highest-ranking Chinese American in the LAPD. Born and raised in San Jose, he attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, graduating with a degree in business/finance.  He joined the LAPD in 1990.

Wakabayashi was born in Reno, Nev., where his parents resettled after leaving wartime concentration camps in Topaz, Utah and Rohwer, Ark. The family moved to East Los Angeles, where he became involved in social service organizations such as Oriental Concern and the Asian American Drug Abuse Program. 

In 1981, Wakabayashi was named national director of the Japanese American Citizens League and became involved in efforts to obtain redress for Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. He served as executive director of the L.A. County Human Relations Commission before joining the U.S. Department of Justice.

Co-sponsored by The Rafu, Little Tokyo Business Association, and JANM, the June 17 program is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required. To register, email or call (213) 880-6875.

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