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Local strides attempted by AAPI communities, lawmakers following tragedy in California

The Monterey Park, California shooting renewed conversations about hate targeting the Asian American Pacific Islander community across the U.S.

LEMOYNE, Pa. — Sophie Xiong with Lancaster Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) learned of the mass shooting at a California Lunar New Year celebration as she was getting ready for Lancaster’s first-ever celebration of the holiday.

"I immediately started to sob, and I couldn't stop," Xiong said. "I was shocked and angry, but mostly just a little frightened to be honest."

The topic of targeted hate gained renewed traction following the shooting. Xiong says action shouldn’t just come in the wake of tragedy.

"[It] seems like the trials and tribulations of the Asian community only comes to light after terrible unspeakable acts of violence, and it's not," Xiong said. "We don't see people come through during our times of joy."

State Representative for Pa.'s 103rd district Patty Kim is hoping to make that change on the state level, with plans to reintroduce House Bill 1917 to promote education.

"That wouldn't be requirements, just make it really, really easy for teachers to teach AAPI history," Kim said.

The lawmaker says there are also efforts to form an AAPI caucus in the General Assembly.

"With that caucus, with my legislation, I think we can build up some momentum and hopefully no other disasters like this," Kim said. "But we will have momentum and get something passed or at least be seen."

In light of the tragedy, Representative Kim pointed out that the issue is not exclusive to Asian American communities.

"We need to focus on gun issues, mental health issues," Kim said. "This is a problem that hits every community."

Still, Xiong says she hopes constant conversation will help grow understanding and acceptance locally and beyond.

"That's how we get connected to many people, and so we're sharing our cultures with a community," Xiong said. "And that's what we did last yesterday with Lunar New Year."

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