In the past few weeks, you may have noticed individuals and organizations posting on social media to encourage Americans to act as strong allies for the Asian American community. This is because COVID-19 has created an enormous spike in discrimination and harassment towards this community.
Between February of 2019 to December 2019, there were 30 bias incidents of discrimination and harassment directed towards Asian Americans reported to the NYC Commission on Human Rights. That number alone should feel unacceptable, because it is. However, the reasoning for the increase in awareness all over social media is due to the increase in these hate crimes and bias incidents. During those same months (between February and December) in 2020, there were 205 crimes/incidents on members of AAPI communities. Within these hundreds of hate crimes and bias incidents, many are directly towards women and elderly. These incidents have been twice as likely to impact Asian American women and seem to be directed also towards the elderly population.
Just recently, on March 16, 2021, a white gunman fatally shot 8 people, which included 6 Asian women during a series of three killings at massage parlors in Atlanta, GA. Additionally, on March 19, 2021, Xiao Zhen Xie, a 76 year old Asian-American woman, was attacked while waiting at a stop light in San Francisco. Even in the beginning of the year on January 28, 2021, Vicha Ratanapakdee (an 84 year old man from Thailand) was attacked while taking a walk during the morning. Unfortunately, Vicha Ratanapakdee did not survive the attack and is remembered by everyone supporting AAPI communities.
A big issue with these hate crimes is that many of them go unreported. Therefore, 205 reported cases could actually be so many more. With that said, it’s incredibly encouraged to speak out and report harassment or discrimination if witnessed. Every single person has a right to live free of discrimination within the United States. Here in New York, The NYC Commission on Human Rights has been incredibly involved in providing resources to support AAPI communities.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights Campaigns
One incredible campaign developed by the NYC Commission on Human Rights is the “I Still Believe In Our City” campaign. Thus, emphasizing that the people of New York (and throughout the country) are hopeful in restoring safety for all communities, especially those including people of color. This public awareness campaign is created by a very talented multidisciplinary artist, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya. Her artwork not only includes beautiful designs, but provides powerful quotes that help to combat discrimination, harassment, and bias directed towards Asian-American communities as a result of COVID-19.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights provides multiple campaigns to help spread awareness of racially biased incidents (including the previously stated “I Still Believe in Our City” campaign. They also have campaigns like “We Are One New York” and “Fight Fear With Facts.” All of these campaigns developed by the NYC Commission on Human Rights are aimed to help individuals access resources with information that helps to support discriminated communities. To read more about these campaigns, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/community/stop-asian-hate.page
According to pbs.org, there are an abundance of ways to be an ally during these times. These include listening, reporting, and mostly just stepping up to support those who need it.
An incredibly important factor in supporting AAPI communities during these times is to listen to those impacted by the previously stated discriminating incidents. Whatever they feel is necessary, should be thought of as necessary by those who are listening as well. When listening to someone who’s been impacted by discrimination, believing their words and needs are most important. Let them know that you understand their needs and that their needs are valid.
Sign Your Name
Many organizations are developing collective statements that allow individuals to sign their names, emphasizing their support for these communities. The Asian Americans Advancing Justice organization provides the perfect letter to sign. It’s available for individual sign-on or for organizational sign-on! To sign your name or for your organization, visit https://www.advancingjustice-atlanta.org/aaajcommunitystatement
If you’ve witnessed a hate crime or bias incident, report it. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911. If there’s time for intervention, try to intervene if it’s safe. Otherwise, there are many numbers to call to report these crimes. In New York, The NYC Commission on Human Rights provides the number 212-416-0197 to report. If you’re uncomfortable with calling, you can even report an incident through their online form by visiting https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/about/report-discrimination.page. Another great online resource can be found on this organization’s website: Stop AAPI Hate. Visit https://stopaapihate.org/ to act immediately to report an incident.
Being able to help with just a phone call is a great step towards creating a safer place for AAPI communities. If you want to become more involved with handling these incidents, please feel encouraged to attend the free bystander intervention training by HollaBack! and partnered with the NYC Commission on Human Rights. To read more about the training, visit https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/
Another great resource to report incidents can be found on the organization’s website, Stop AAPI Hate. Visit https://stopaapihate.org/ to act immediately to report an incident.
Researching the history of Asian American discrimination can be incredibly helpful in understanding the way they’re impacted today. COVID-19 is not the first time discrimination towards these communities have been seen; there’s been large amounts of discrimination towards these communities for centuries. White supremacy has remained present throughout the history of Asian American discrimination. Remember the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882? It’s about time we take notice of these actions and ensure an equal and safe place for Asian American communities to thrive.
Vox.com has created a list of readings that provide an understanding of anti-Asian racism in America. To view this list, visit https://www.vox.com/culture/22336712/anti-asian-racism-reading-list
Reach Out to Elected Officials
Individuals may have a great impact on supporting these communities, but elected officials hold the proper authority and power to really do something about it. With that in mind, it’s encouraged to sign petitions that state specific and necessary changes to provide safety and equality for Asian American communities. A great “petition” to sign can be found at https://www.napawf.org/stopasianhate
You could even search for your local elected officials and write your own letter, email, message, etc. These local officials are really as crucial as the federal and state government in pursuing a cause like this. Asian American communities deserve to be heard at every level of the government until their needs are met.
Please, Be An Ally.
It’s understandable that this pandemic has caused all people great stress and conflicts. However, AAPI communities are facing more than just stress and conflicts from wearing a mask or being told to quarantine for two weeks. They’re facing unacceptable attacks of discrimination and racial bias specifically due to misinformation and stigma of this pandemic. Everybody deserves to be treated equally. Discrimination and Harassment on the basis of race or national origin is illegal under the New York City Human Rights Law. This doesn’t change just because the rest of the world seems like it has.
Asian American communities are facing something that no person should ever face, and this is where you come in. If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the right track to supporting these communities. Educating yourself and researching these current events is crucial in understanding how to support those affected.
So please, be an ally! Sign those petitions, attend that training, report a crime if you witness one, reach out to those in power, and listen to what these communities have to say. And most importantly, lend your support to those who need it despite any hardships you may face. In the beginning of this article, the increase in social media posts about protecting AAPI communities was mentioned. This is significant in supporting communities because organizations are reaching out to let everyone know that they’re an ally- you can do the same.
Thanks For Reading!
You’re taking a great step towards supporting AAPI communities by just reading this article. Please feel encouraged to share on social media to help spread awareness for these communities. If you have any comments, questions or concerns about how to be an ally for the AAPI community during this horrible time, my contact information is provided on a separate page.