Beauty industry leaders sign open letter calling for an end to Asian American racism

Signatories include the founders and leaders of Tatcha, L'Oréal, Pinterest and YouTube

Asian American beauty industry leaders are among the prominent names who have signed an open letter calling for an end to racism in the US.

Published as a full page advert in the Wall Street Journal, the letter said that amid the coronavirus pandemic, terms such as 'China Virus' and 'Kung Flu' are "an open invitation to hate" and violent hate crimes.

More than 2,000 business executives, founders and senior management have signed the letter, including Ben Silbermann, Pinterest founder; Steve Chen, YouTube co-founder; Vicky Tsai, Tatcha CEO; Liah Yoo, KraveBeauty CEO; Soyoung Kang, eos Products CMO; Alicia Yoon, Peach & Lily founder; Diana Hong-Elsey, Global Creative Director of Tom Ford Beauty and James Lee, VP Finance at L'Oréal USA.

There has been a rise in anti-Asian racist incidents in 2020. A report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that while overall hate crimes decreased by 7% in the US, those targeting Asian people soared by nearly 150%.

“I believe businesses and business leaders can play a meaningful role to positively impact society," said Yoon.

"As an Asian American business leader, I'm proud to partner with many other Asian American business leaders on this initiative to help end hate and violence against the Asian community."

Signatories are collectively donating US$10m to charity Asia Pacific Fund to support research on Asian violence and legal representation for victims.

According to the letter, they have also pledged to support Asian employees and ensure representation across their respective businesses.

The letter reads: "We are tired of being treated as less than American, subject to harassment and now, every day, we read about another member of our community being physically attacked — simply for being Asian.

"We are afraid for the safety of our loved ones. We are angry that our families can no longer go outside in their own neighborhoods where they have lived for decades because it may not be safe.

"We have given a lot to this country where we were born or to which we immigrated. Our community includes your cashiers, your teachers, your cooks, your doctors, your dry cleaners, your colleagues, your neighbours, your friends. We cut your nails. We write your code.

"We, together, have launched rovers to Mars and back. Many of us have created jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans. We choose to make America our home and we strive every day to make America better — just like you.

"We don’t deserve to live in fear in our own country. The vitriol has made Asians the targets of this blame. Rhetoric matters. The 'China Virus.' 'Kung Flu.' Those words were an open invitation to hate and the result has been a 150% rise over the past year in reported hate crimes against the Asian American community, disproportionately against Asian women.

"We ask for your support in ending violence against Asian Americans. We no longer want to fear being stabbed from behind, fatally knocked to the ground, having acid thrown on our face or gunned down like the mothers and grandmothers in Atlanta.

"We no longer want to see photos of bruised and battered Asian seniors with GoFundMe links asking for support. It is critical that we also acknowledge that the violence we are experiencing has been the daily reality for our Black, Latinx, Indigenous and LGBTQ communities.

"The Asian American business leaders in our community are committed to fighting for change. The change that is needed requires a national awakening and a dialogue that involves leaders from every community if we are to undo the generations of systemic bias and racism. We are business leaders. We can help make change happen."