How to help Asian Americans under attack

Across the US, Asian Americans are under attack — verbally, economically and physically.

An elderly man on his daily walk was ambushed, shoved to the ground and killed. Strangers hurled insults and rocks at an Asian American family’s home. A business owner’s restaurant was spray-painted with “Kung flu,” “go back 2 China” and “hope U die.”

Anti-Asian hate crimes have more than doubled during the pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

But there are easy ways people of all backgrounds can help stop the vitriol and violence:

Stop racist remarks when you see or hear them

If you see a friend joke about the “China virus” or “kung flu” on social media, reach out and explain why that’s neither funny nor harmless.

Words have consequences. Many Asian Americans have been spat on, attacked or erroneously blamed for the “China virus,” “Chinese virus” or the “kung flu.”

Those terms were popularized early in the pandemic. And researchers found that people who used the hashtag #chinesevirus on Twitter were more than twice as likely to show anti-Asian sentiment than those who used the hashtag #covid19.

Even Asian Americans who have never been to China have been accused and assaulted. And hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by nearly 150% during the pandemic.

Take a (free) bystander intervention course

Bystander intervention courses arm you with the training needed to stop harassment and possibly prevent violence.

The anti-harassment group Hollaback! has teamed up with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC to offer free, 1-hour online training to help you safely defuse xenophobia in action.

“We’ll start by talking about the types of disrespect that Asian and Asian American folks are facing right now — from microaggressions to violence,” the registration website says.

“We’ll talk through five strategies for intervention: distract, delegate, document, delay, and direct; and how to prioritize your own safety while intervening … and you’ll leave feeling more confident intervening the next time you see Anti-Asian/American harassment online or in person.”

Support your local Asian American businesses

While many businesses have struggled over the past year, Asian American businesses have been hit disproportionately hard, fueled by discrimination and xenophobia.

According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of Americans surveyed said they or someone in their household suffered either a job loss or pay cut since February 2020. But among Asian Americans, that number rose to 54%.

The financial blow can be doubly devastating for immigrant families who don’t have strong financial safety nets or don’t yet have the language skills to compete for other jobs.

“Unemployment severely impacted the more disadvantaged Asian Americans,” wrote researchers from San Francisco State University and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In California, for example, 83% of the Asian American labor force with a high school education or less filed for unemployment claims, “compared to 37% of the rest of the California labor force with the same level of education.”

Add a frame to your profile photo

We’ve seen how quickly racist vitriol can spread across social media. One way to counter that is to spread support instead of hate.

Facebook offers many frames to fit around your profile photo, including “Stand against racism,” “Stop Asian hate” and “Stop AAPI hate.”

Such messages can offer much-needed solidarity with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, many of whom feel like they have targets on their backs.

They can also help reduce the popularity of anti-Asian sentiment.

Donate to victims’ families

The recent Atlanta-area spa shootings killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent. For some of the families, grief is now compounded by financial uncertainty.

One of the victims was a single mother and sole caretaker for two sons who have no other family in the US.

And at least two families are suffering extreme financial difficulty, said Charlie Yoon Kim, president of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta.

“They were worried about rents and utility fees and other practical costs, including the funeral process,” he said.

GoFundMe has verified several accounts that will directly benefit some of the families of those killed or injured in the March 16 attacks:

Suncha Kim: “Like many asian immigrants, she spoke very little English and worked two to three jobs. This took immense courage and my grandmother was a fighter,” her family said in a written statement. “As an immigrant, all my grandmother ever wanted in life was to grow old with my grandfather, and watch her children and grandchildren live the life she never got to live.”

Yong Ae Yue: “Mom was an amazing woman who loved to introduce our family and friends to her home-cooked Korean food and Korean karaoke,” her youngest son wrote. “The world will throw you trials and tribulations to test you, but this test feels so unfair. We are still in shock over the violent murder of our mother.”

Hyun Jung Grant: “She was a single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I,” her son wrote. It is only my brother and I in the United States. The rest of my family is in South Korea and are unable to come.”

Delaina Ashley Yaun: She was the mother of two children, including an 8-month-old girl. Yaun and her husband were both getting a massage when gunfire erupted. “She was a good person,” her sister said. “She didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserved it.”

Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz: “He was shot in the forehead down to his lungs and into his stomach. He will be needing facial surgery,” his wife wrote. “Please help me and my family raise money to cover for my husband’s medical bills. Please pray for my family and the family’s that were affected by this shooting.”

Support groups fighting for change

Over the past year, more than 3,700 cases of discrimination, harassment or violence against Asian Americans have been reported, according to the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund works to protect and promote the civil rights of Asian Americans. It’s fueled by donations and volunteer lawyers and law students.

And Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC works to improve public education, public policy advocacy and community organizing to help build a more equitable society for all.

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