Ham’s sentiments echo the fatigue, frustration and collective trauma experienced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) due to recent racist attacks on their communities.
For many in the AAPI community, just leaving home requires a new routine and a mental shift that prioritizes survival. It’s coupled with a subtle fear, wondering if they or a loved one will become the next victim.
“I no longer listen to music when I’m walking around,” Pearl Sun says. “I want to make sure I pay attention to what or whatever might be happening around me.”
This spike in hostility towards Asian Americans coincides with the Covid-19 pandemic. Between March and December of 2020, 2,808 complaints were reported to Stop AAPI Hate. The organization, which tracks racist encounters against Asian Americans, reported 8.7 percent of the incidents involved physical assaults, and 71 percent included verbal harassment like the one NBA star Jeremy Lin experienced, when he was called “coronavirus” on the court.
The history we rarely hear about
While Covid-19 may be raising the xenophobic flames right now, racism against Asian Americans is not new.
“They were willing to take jobs working in terrible conditions, making poor wages. As the economy worsened, they were eventually seen as a threat to White men in terms of a threat to their jobs and a threat to their livelihoods,” Professor Chang explains.
“We saw even then in the late 1800’s these explosions of anti-Asian violence. Eventually we saw when it led to the passages of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which was the first piece of legislation that officially barred immigration or limited immigration on the basis of one’s race.”
Professor Chang says violence toward Asian Americans occurs in cycles punctuated by dormancy. Asian people are often “welcomed in this country as long as we are seen as useful to the larger American project.”
“During times of social, political, economic instability,” she continued, “then we are marginalized again and seen as a ‘perpetual foreigner’ and therefore a threat to national security.”
Resurgence of hate
As Covid-19 spread in the US, President Trump publicly referred to coronavirus as “Kung Flu” and the “China Virus.” He insisted the appellations were not racist, instead simply referring to the pandemic’s geographic origin. But Professor Chang says the descriptions resonate with –and help inflame– that cycle of discrimination.
“So, we have this coming together of stereotypes, paired with activation of those stereotypes for political rhetoric — paired with already a feeling of unsafety and fear.”
In her survey of nearly 700 Asian Americans across the country, 16 percent reported being deliberately coughed or spat on. And 24 percent reported workplace discrimination while 14 percent said they had been barred from an establishment like a shop.
The uptick in discrimination against the AAPI community is distressing. But there are ways to push back and resources available to lend support. Here is what you can do:
Speak up and speak out
Yang also explains how this platform amplifies visibility of AAPI people while also reshaping and reclaiming a narrative perpetuated by harmful stereotypes.
“Unfortunately, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders often are invisible to the public. Or, where we are visible, it falls into a couple of different stereotypes. One stereotype is the so called ‘model minority’ — the suggestion that there are no issues that really affect the Asian American community. ‘They are already doing well, and they don’t have needs that we need to be worried about.'” He explains.
“And we know that that’s false. This moment proves that that is false.”
By amplifying and centering AAPI voices, community needs get amplified as well.
“So, in that sense, making sure that these stories are visible—those needs are visible is critical.”
Teach and train
The one-hour intensive class explores the “spectrum of disrespect” from microaggressions to violence.
According to the organization’s website, the training teaches how to safely intervene when witnessing anti-Asian racism whether online or in person. It also allows for practice through real-world scenarios. The virtual events are free of charge, but registration is required.
For those who have experienced harassment, Hollaback created an online class to help survivors cope and grow.
“What we wanted to do with the training on ‘what to do if you experience that type of harassment’ is really support that healing and resilience,” May tells CNN.
“Our hope in providing these bystander intervention trainings and equipping Asians and Asian Americans to have more resilience practices at their disposal is that we can start to heal some of the long-term, multigenerational trauma that is happening.”
Racism attacks the mind
As a clinical psychologist, Doris Chang says many of her Asian and Asian American clients are under a lot of distress as a result of the recent attacks.
Although the need is great, “Asian Americans tend to underutilize mental health services more than other groups do. We just don’t go,” Chang explains.
“Whereas Black Americans and Hispanic Americans are starting to come to therapy in greater numbers than before, that has not shifted for Asian Americans.”
Protect Asian elders
Between March 2020 and December 2020, Stop AAPI Hate received 126 reports of incidents specifically involving elderly Asians and Asian Americans. Professor Chang tells CNN safety for elderly family members, many of whom do not speak English as a first language, is a major worry.
“It has been a really painful experience to see our most revered members of our community being targeted.”
Raise funds to empower AAPI individuals and businesses
“What GoFundMe does best is enabling people to take action on the causes that matter most to them, in real time,” says Musa Tariq of GoFundMe.
“The community the #StopAsianHate initiative has created is remarkable — people are sharing their personal experiences with racism and calling on others to help.”
Jean Casarez, Aaron Cooper and Steve Coppin contributed to this report.Source link