confronting America's ongoing racial injustice toward Asian Americans

Hate crimes and violence against members of the AAPI community have been at the forefront of most media coverage recently—this spike is only one part of a massive increase in anti-Asian hate crimes over the last year, as well as part of a long history of anti-Asian racism and discrimination in the United States.

In contrast to a 7 percent decrease in overall hate crimes, anti-Asian hate crimes across America’s major cities have surged by 149 percent in 2020, according to a recent report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. This clear increase shown in the data speaks volumes, especially when acts of racial discrimination and hate crimes are known to be under-reported, to begin with—language barriers, immigration status, and distrust of law enforcement may all serve as deterrents for victims.

In the face of recent—and not-so-recent—events, here are some ways you can support AAPI individuals and the AAPI community, now and in the future.

How to Support Your AAPI Friends:

Given the national conversation taking place right now, you may feel inclined to reach out to your AAPI friends and colleagues during this time. Here are some tips for how to navigate these conversations:

Firstly, your approach should be concordant with your relationship. If the person you’re looking to reach out to is someone you don’t currently have a close relationship with, reaching out might do more harm than good and may create more emotional labor for that person. Your desire to reach out should be coming from a place of genuine care and concern for that individual.

Simply making it known that you’re there for your friend if they want to talk might be a better approach than asking them directly how they’re feeling; it’s important to leave space for them to deal with things in their preferred manner, without potentially adding additional pressure to talk about their emotions or to be vulnerable when they may not want to.

Ask questions, if appropriate, and above all, be a good listener. After making sure your friend is comfortable, avoid assumptions about what they might be feeling or experiencing, and let them lead the conversation. Be sure to validate what they say—remember, everyone’s experiences and feelings are different.

How to Support the AAPI Community as a Whole:

One way to support your AAPI friends is to show your support for the AAPI community as a whole and to get involved and engaged in your own community. Show that you are willing to help and that you care about the issues the AAPI community is facing. Luckily, there are myriad ways to do this.

Witnessing an Incident: How to be a Better Bystander

- Report any incidents you witness. If you witness a hate crime, report the incident to your local police, then submit a tip to the FBI. In addition, the organization Stop AAPI Hate runs a reporting center to track incidents of discrimination, hate, and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

- Attend bystander intervention training. Some cities, such as New York City, are hosting training sessions, and many local organizations offer sessions as well, so look to see what opportunities might be available in your own area or community. The AAAJ (Asian Americans Advancing Justice) is also offering virtual sessions.

- Lastly, speak up if and when you hear microaggressions. Learn what constitutes a microaggression, and say something if you witness one.

Ways to Get Involved:

- Support AAPI owned businesses: many AAPI-owned businesses, restaurants, in particular, have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, due in part to the spread of racist misinformation about the coronavirus.

- Find out what community-based responses there may be in your area. For example, some communities have introduced chaperone initiatives, where you can volunteer to accompany anyone who feels unsafe walking alone in certain areas.

- Call your legislators and ask what they are doing for the Asian community.

- Educate yourself: learn about the history of Asian people in the US, learn about the model-minority myth, seek out opportunities to hear the stories and experiences of AAPI individuals in the US.

- Donate: if you’re in a position financially to donate, there are many organizations and fundraising efforts working to support the AAPI community and end the anti-Asian violence across the country. Research organizations in your area, or donate to one that’s nationwide.

Most importantly, keep the conversation going. The issue of anti-Asian hate has gained attention because of its prominence in the media lately, but a sustained effort is required to produce real, lasting change.

Written by Kylie Kirschner

This article has been republished from Renewed Awareness Magazine.

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