Agree to Disagree . . . With Civility

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Watching the latest FCC moves while protecting freedom of speech and protecting the AAPI community against discrimination

Broadband, net neutrality

Last week the FCC moved to reconsider current net neutrality protections. Many of the rules and regulations historically in place have benefitted communities of color and disadvantaged communities, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC will speak forcefully to ensure that the FCC continues to protect these communities.

We have and will continue to strongly advocate for an open Internet that grants fair and equitable use, especially to communities of color.

We advocate for protecting against discrimination and promoting competition; and protecting freedom of speech. We advocate for valuing diversity in media representation and of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in entertainment media. Last year we filed an amicus brief in support of requiring multilingual emergency information through the emergency alert system so that 25 million limited English proficient individuals in the U.S. can have access to urgent life-saving information. In addition, we have supported the Lifeline program that helps bring affordable telephone and broadband service to millions of people in poverty.

Even as we express concerns over the FCC vote yesterday, we can have a vigorous debate but remain civil to one another. Most recently we saw Ajit Pai attacked online with racial, ethnic, and cultural slurs following a keynote speech on net neutrality. As a South Asian American, Pai is a member of the AAPI community, and no matter where he stands on the issues, we cannot stand by idly while someone’s race and ethnicity is publicly attacked.

We can be on different sides of an issue without hurling personal, ethnic, hate-filled slurs at someone with whom we disagree. Today it seems that discourse on substantive topics is often reduced to name-calling and insults. While we should not abandon substantive conversation on important issues, we cannot let hate speech become normalized. Likewise, we must rise up against attacks on AAPIs whether they are government officials or individuals in our community.

To this end, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation, an affiliation of five civil rights organizations, launched an online tracking site to capture the reports of hate incidents occurring within the community. We are working with other partners to provide a more accurate picture of hate incidents faced by AAPIs and working to find ways to support and stand up for you against these attacks.

As AAPIs, we treasure our differences in culture, language, and places of origin. We are not a monolithic community, but we are indivisible in the face of hate. Let us all agree that we can disagree without invoking hate and rise above the rhetoric of the day.

John C. Yang is the president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.