Taylor Rapp uses digital art to support AAPI community

On March 16, a series of mass shootings occurred at three separate spas in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, where eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were killed by 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long (who was taken into custody later that same day).

This has not been the first occasion of anti-Asian hate and the rise in those hate crimes across the country hit close to home for Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp, who is Asian American.

In an Instagram post on March 30, Rapp expressed his concerns for the community and especially for his own family members:

“It seems like every day a new video emerges of an innocent, helpless, elderly Asian woman or man get brutally attacked on the streets for no reason whatsoever. What really breaks my heart is that in ALL of these videos and news stories, the victims are all the most vulnerable, helpless, and innocent people, and almost never happens to an adult in their 20’s or 30’s like me.”

In that same post Rapp announced his plan to launch non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on OpenSea, a marketplace for digital goods including “collectibles, gaming items, digital art, and other digital assets that are backed by a blockchain like Ethereum.”

The six digital collections and 90 NFTs were auctioned from April 1-4 and the winner of the 1-on-1 special edition would earn much more than just the digital art. On top of the art, the winner will receive two tickets to a Rams game next season, a meet and greet with Rapp, and signed game used memorabilia.

This unique way of stepping in and doing something may not be well known to those who have no idea what NFTs are. Essentially, “non-fungible” more or less means that it’s unique and can’t be replaced with something else.

The best example would be bitcoin – trade one for another bitcoin, and you’ll have exactly the same thing. NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain and Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, like bitcoin, but its blockchain also supports these NFTs, which store extra information that makes them work differently.

The crypto-collectible market has grown in the NBA and NFL and Rapp believes in its value and how it paper trading cards may not exist moving forward.

“I believe the NFTs are here to stay, and they will eventually take over sports trading cards,” Rapp told CNBC. “I wouldn’t be surprised in the next three to four years if every player had their own NFT collection.”

Most recently, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski made more than $1.2 million on 350 cards he auctioned on the OpenSea site. Because of the growing boom and success from the NFTs, Rapp is hoping to capitalize and raise money for the important cause.

“I felt like it was a responsibility for me to go out there and do what I can using my platform and my name to try to help out my community and bring more awareness to what is going on right now,” Rapp said.

During his interview with CNBC, Rapp said he would donate a “to be determined” percentage of the funds to the #StopAsianHate GoFundMe campaign to support the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community. The page has since raised and surpassed its goal of $5 million ($5.4 million roughly) to combat the recent hate crimes.

The auction has since been closed as of Easter Sunday and only three of Rapp’s NFTs have gained any sort of bid from buyers. Additionally, Rapp has not announced if he will reopen the OpenSea site for more sales as of April 9 but that doesn’t stop him from continuing the support and fighting for equality.

“I am Asian American, and this community means a lot to me,” Rapp said. “I wanted to help my people, and what better way to raise money right now to donate than through creating an NFT collection and using my platform. It is time to all come together to help and support the AAPI Community to spread more love, as hate is never the answer to anything.”

Featured Image: Los Angeles Rams safety Taylor Rapp (24) in a scrimmage against the Los Angeles Chargers is using his platform to promote digital art in order to raise money to fight hate. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline