Considering history-making Chicago election, tracking hate crimes during AAPI heritage month

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, May 7, 2023
Our Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There's been a wave of Asian Americans elected to political offices in Chicago and Illinois.

One of them is Chinese American Alderwoman Nicole Lee. She represents the 11th Ward, Chicago's first-ever Asian American majority ward.

It's Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and ABC7 Chicago spoke with Lee about her history-making election.

"For me personally, it's not necessarily something that I thought I'd see necessarily in my lifetime. It's a big statement to make. I think that sometimes we get so used to the way things are that we have a hard time even seeing what's possible. And we're living it right now, so it feels really great, personally, to be a part of this historic moment," she said.

WATCH: Our Chicago Part 1

Chicago Alderman Nicole Lee spoke with ABC7 Chicago during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

As for what this means for the community she represents, "I think it really is an arrival, if you will, for us from a political perspective having a unified voice in terms of political influence, if you will. Obviously, we don't all agree on everything, but it's the first opportunity that we've had to not be gerrymandered to where our community has been split up so often in the past, that we now have the opportunity to really present a unified political voice."

Lee said she didn't necessarily see herself in politics. But she said she's a person who's always believed in "walking your talk. And when the opportunity presented itself, I looked around and started to hear about some of the other folks that were thinking about getting in I just had to ask myself, you know, how would I feel with these individuals representing me? And the answer to that was I think I could do a better job, and I was inspired to jump in."

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Chicago is home to the largest support center in the Midwest serving victims of hate crimes, with a special focus on the AAPI community.

The Anti-Hate Action Center, powered by the nonprofit Chinese American Service League, is now launching a multi-pronged campaign to track and address hate crimes in Chicago and across the Midwest region.

Last year, the number of Anti-Asian hate crimes reported in the city was the highest in 10 years.

Kevin Amaro is a community engagement specialist at the Anti-Hate Action Center in Chicago.

WATCH: Our Chicago Part 2

Chicago is home to the largest support center in the Midwest serving victims of hate crimes, with a special focus on the AAPI community.

"It's extremely important to report these incidents of hate, and we know that hate crimes and incidents are severely underreported. The second is that there are resources available for both the victims and witnesses of hate."

Those crimes can be reportedly anonymously at

Amaro said they've heard that victims sometimes don't report these crimes because they don't think that anything meaningful or helpful that would come from it.

"By having the resources in the same place as reporting, we can work with hate victims, witnesses to insure that they receive the support that they need," he said.

Ads are on display across the city, to help connect people with the services available.