Stepping Up to Stop Hate Against AANHPI People
May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month. To mark it, Venables Bell & Partners worked with the coalition Stop AAPI Hate to create "Invisible No More."
In the United States, one in five AAPIs recently experienced hate incidents—which represents millions of people. Stop AAPI Hate has documented 11,000 self-reported hate incidents since 2020, but most AAPIs feel uncomfortable reporting their experiences. It's hard to know how many more episodes disappear into the ether.
"Our communities are once again reeling from the mass shooting in Allen, Texas, a violent act of hate in which eight people were killed, including four Asians. It's a reminder that two years after the Covid-19 pandemic sparked a wave of hate incidents, we're still on edge—about the possibility of not only physical attacks but also workplace discrimination, verbal harassment, vandalism, and other forms of hate," says Stop AAPI Hate co-founder Manjusha Kulkarni, who is also executive director of the AAPI Equity Alliance.
It's hard to know who "Invisible No More" is speaking to at first. It's billed as awareness-raising work. But when the ad enters its last half, and invisible Asians start stepping out of the frame, we were struck by a sense of recognition.
"Asian" is not a monolith; that the acronym has ballooned from AAPI to AANHPI should tell you that. Some fit the "model minority" stereotype better than others. But wherever you're from on this wide spectrum, your people likely have a history in the United States that you didn’t learn in school, for good reason: It's ugly. (It's also endlessly repeated history for other cultural groups, even now.) An immigrant family—or, in cases like Hawaii's, a family under occupation—is likely to give their kids the same line: Keep your head down.
It's an enforced invisibility, composed of instincts honed to survival in a volatile situation. And as my dad likes to say, "You don't bite the hand that feeds you."
The most touching aspect of "Invisible No More" is its ending: One painted hand reaching out to another. "Together, we are invisible no more," the screen reads, and that's where you learn it's perhaps not talking to non-AAPI folk. Rather, it's talking to our communities, this multivariate mess that itself is riddled with infighting and racism.
To wit: Was Crazy Rich Asians for me? No, it wasn’t. Those people confiscate the passports of my people and keep us around as indentured servants. It's this kind of stuff that makes advocating for ourselves harder: We can't even advocate for each other. If we could find a way to align, to think in terms of a tide lifting all ships instead of zero-sum games, maybe we’d feel a lot more held. I think we'd feel safer being ourselves in the country we’re in.
"As an Asian American, I've personally experienced the traumatic impact of AAPI hate," says Che-Na Stephenson, group creative director at VB&P. "Recently, on my routine walk home, a group of people started yelling racially derogatory slurs at me … AAPI hate is not just an isolated incident but a deep-rooted issue that needs to be addressed. It's a painful reminder that prejudice still exists in our society, despite our progress toward inclusivity and acceptance. Our community must speak up so that these incidents are no longer ignored."
"Invisible No More" was directed by Zoe Neary.
Non Profit: Stop AAPI Hate
Director of Corporate Engagement: Ly Nguyen
Director of Communications: Rose Lee
Communications Manager: Yamuna Hopwood
Agency: Venables Bell & Partners
Founder, Chairman: Paul Venables
Chief Creative Officer: Will McGinness
Group Creative Director: Che-Na Stephenson
Senior Art Director: Diego Zelaya
Senior Copywriter: Michael Ng
Chief Growth Officer: Brittni Hutchins
Growth and Marketing Supervisor: Jon Merlino
Head of Integrated Production: Hilary Coate
Producer: Lexi Alaga
Business Affairs Manager: Christine Tom
Audio/Video Post Specialist: Jason Bridges
Technical Director: Jeff Saunders
Director: Zoe Neary
EP: Robert Herman
Head of Production / Line Producer: Sheila Eisenstein
Director of Photography: Bryn McCashin
Art Director / Production Designer: Nicolas Lepage
Key Painter & Make Up Artist: Colin Comeau
Set Decoration: Sandy Walker
Key Costumes: Chieh Huang
Costumes: Caroline Cheng
Service Company: Means of Production in Vancouver
Editor: Kamila Daurenova
Assistant Editor: Eric Estevez
Managing Partner: Michelle Eskin
Executive Producer: Brian Stanley
Head of Production / Producer: Kristen Jenkins
VFX & Finishing: Jogger
Creative Director: Andy Brown Flame Artist: Jan Cilliers
Flame Artist: Katrina Salicrup
Flame Artist: Brendan Crockett
Head of Production / Producer: Diana Cheng
Colorist: Dimitri Zola
Producer: Hugh Copeland
Managing Partner: Robert Owens
Sound Design and Final Mix: Walker
Sound Designer and Mixer: Chris Nungary
Producers: Danielle Soury, Stephanie Pigott, Sara Matarazzo
Original Music: Shimon Machida