Growing up, sometimes people made me feel like an outsider; I was the perfect storm of nerdy, gay, and Indian American. But now, I’ve come to find that those very things that were sometimes used as fodder against me are the things I love the most about myself. I have the privilege to be connected to amazing communities of incredible people: people who know that it’s actually cool to nerd out about stuff, who celebrate the strength and joy of what it means to identify as LGBT, and who appreciate the rich cultural heritage of being Indian American.
It’s okay to be weird, but it’s NOT okay to be bullied.
Every day, kids of all ages suffer from being bullied in schools across the country. In the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, this problem is often complicated by cultural, religious, and linguistic barriers that can keep AAPI youth from getting the help they need. And we’ve seen that certain AAPI groups – including South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Micronesian, and limited English proficient youth – are more likely to be the targets of bullying.
That’s why today, during National Bullying Prevention Month, I’m proud to join the White House Initiative on AAPIs, in partnership with the Sikh Coalition and the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, in launching “Act To Change,” a public awareness campaign to address bullying, including in the AAPI community. “Act To Change” aims to empower students, families, and educators with the knowledge and tools to help prevent and end bullying in their communities. In addition to raising awareness, the campaign encourages AAPI youth and adults to share their stories, engage in community dialogues, and take action against bullying.
The campaign website, ActToChange.org, includes video and music empowerment playlists, and encourages you to “Take a Pledge” to join the #ActToChange movement and stand up against bullying. As one out of three AAPIs does not speak English fluently, resources are available in Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Urdu, and Vietnamese. “Act To Change” will also feature video testimonials of AAPI celebrity athletes, artists, and entertainers.
The “Act To Change” campaign builds a broad, diverse coalition of supporters and forges public-private partnerships across media platforms, and through nonprofit organizations, celebrities, and other stakeholders. “Act To Change” supporters will champion the campaign by:
Maulik Pancholy is a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.