‘Make Us Visible' aims to raise awareness about Asian-American, Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islanders

Hate crimes against Asian-Americans have been on the rise for nearly 10 years. Yet, the sharpest spike in hate crimes, per the DOJ, has been since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A national organization battling Anti-Asian violence has launched a new chapter in Washington. Their mission—fighting hate through education. March 4 was the Washington’s ‘Make Us Visible’ kick-off event at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum. 

The ‘Make Us Visible’ organization aims to raise awareness about the contributions of Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in our country and to get their stories included in Washington schools.

Students, educators and community leaders came together to highlight the impact and importance of Asian-Americans.

"Not many students in America have learned about AANH (Asian-American/Native Hawaiian) history," said student Elias Locsin. "This program is to raise Asian voices and so more students know about Asian history."

With a surge in reported violence against Asian-Americans, ‘Make Us Visible’ wants to fight back with education. The organization wants a K-12 inclusive curriculum in Washington schools, so students see themselves represented accurately.

"We want to be included in social studies curriculum, and we’re not asking for a separate requirement this is just about ensuring that our stories are integrated in the classrooms," said Angelie Chong, Director of Washington Make Us Visible.

‘Make Us Visible’ was founded two years ago by two parents—a student and a teacher coming together with one goal in mind: to come up with long-term solutions to Anti-Asian American violence.

Since then, this group says it's helped pass five bills in New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut to require the inclusion of AAPI history in K-12 schools. Now the Washington chapter wants to follow in those steps.

"The other thing that we’re working on right now is to build in more language learning, so honoring the languages of our families in the schools," said Dr. Kelly Aramaki, incoming superintendent at Bellevue School District.

A panel of speakers, student testimonies, and even a welcome video from congresswoman Pramila Jayapal kicked off the chapter's launch.

"I think it’s even more important that this event is kicking off at the Wing Luke Museum, because this is the place in the community, where we’re able to learn about our history," said Janice Zaahn, one of many event attendees.

‘Makes Us Visible’ includes 12 active chapters across the country, including Washington, sharing their history, stories and culture.

"My biggest hope is that more people around the world will learn about this ‘Make Us Visible’ and Asian history," said Locsin. 

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The Washington ‘Make Us Visible’ hopes for more active chapters to open across the country, while Chong says the focus right now is community building and when they're ready they can push for a bill to require the teaching of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history in K-12 schools.