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New York legislators introduce AANHPI history bill to combat anti-Asian violence

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New York state legislators have introduced a bill requiring public schools to teach Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) history in response to anti-Asian violence.

Introduced on Monday, Bill S5963 is an education law that will require both public elementary and high schools to integrate AANHPI history into their history or social studies curricula.

Sponsored by state senator John C. Liu along with co-sponsors Iwen Chu, Kevin Thomas, Jeremy A. Cooney, Andrew Gounardes and more, the bill aims to combat the drastic increase of hate crimes against Asian Americans.

The bill states:

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As Asian Americans continue to experience an unprecedented surge of scapegoating, discrimination, hatred, and racist violence, it is more important than ever to integrate Asian American history into New York State's public school curricula as a means to help dispel the ignorance and negative stereotypes that have remained prevalent in modern culture.

The introduction of AANHPI history is aimed at addressing the “lack of knowledge and understanding of Asian Americans” that was heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, the bill will not only give AANHPI children the “chance to finally see themselves reflected accurately in American history” but also counter anti-Asian stereotypes, such as the model minority myth.

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https://twitter.com/LiuNewYork/status/1660764511823962112

During Monday’s press conference at the Capitol, Liu and Assemblymember Grace Lee, who previously introduced a similar bill — Bill A6579 — in April, presented strong support for their bills and encouraged their colleagues to do the same.

“It’s easy to hate who you don’t know,” Liu said, according to New York Post. “And that’s why we’re looking to mandate the teaching of the Asian American experience. Asian American history, Asian American studies – whatever you want to call it – we got to be included.”

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Lee continued, “We belong here and we belong in the history books of New York State public schools so we’re here today to make sure that this bill gets passed this session.”

Representing and Empowering AANHPI Community History (REACH) Coalition — a network of community-based organizations that promote AANHPI history — also showed their support for bills S5963 and A6579.

“We are excited to see S5963/A6579 reintroduced in the New York State Legislature by Senator John Liu and Assembly member Grace Lee,” members of REACH stated.

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"This bill is essential to addressing the resurgence of anti-Asian violence, fostering identity development for all students and creating learning environments that prevent misunderstandings and stereotypes that can lead to bullying."

If passed, both bills are expected to take effect the following July after the bill becomes law.