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Press Room

Anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander Racism Must Be Named and Uprooted

Statement from José Luis Castro, President & CEO of Vital Strategies on the recent acts of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders  

“In the year since COVID-19 entered our lives, hate speech and targeted attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have risen dramatically. This week’s horrific attack in Atlanta has rightly triggered further concern and outrage about the rise of racism in the U.S. In New York City, home to many of our staff and our largest office, 29 acts of violence against people of Asian descent were reported in 2020 and has spiked by almost 150% across major cities compared to the year prior.   

Hate crimes, discrimination, violence and stigmatization against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have a long and disturbing history in the U.S. The recent rise, attributable to the politics of hate such as referring to the coronavirus as the ‘China virus,’ recalls other racist moments where diseases were used to justify anti-Asian xenophobia. Stigmatization around health is not only immoral, it harms us all by hampering all communities’ responses to COVID-19 and contributes to lack of care seeking or vaccine hesitancy. Insufficient data has also masked the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the AAPI community. We must speak out against it and name it: anti-AAPI racism was a cynical tool fostered for political benefit to cover this country’s failure to control the pandemic in its earliest stages.   

Racism is a public health crisis and an affront to our belief that every person deserves the right to health and safety. It is a challenge to us, as public health professionals and as an organization that believes deeply in the wellbeing of our staff, partners and communities we serve, to include dismantling racism, xenophobia and other forms of social injustice as a core component of our work.   

At Vital Strategies, we stand firm in our support for Asian American and Pacific Islanders and in our commitment to making progress on these drivers of inequity and poor health.”  

About José Luis Castro  

José Luis Castro is the President & CEO of Vital Strategies, where he has led a rapid expansion of Vital Strategies’ portfolio, working with governments to tackle the world’s leading killers, primarily in low-and middle-income countries. The organization now reaches into 73 countries and has touched the lives of more than 2 billion people.  

About Vital Strategies  

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in more than 70  

countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.