By MICHELLE TIO, Rafu Digital Team
As instances of COVID-19 racism continue to go viral, Asian / Pacific Islanders are living in fear of discrimination. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, nearly 60% of Asian respondents stated that they believe people are more likely to express anti-Asian views now than before the pandemic. Additionally, 31% of Asian respondents in the same survey reported that they have been the targets of racist slurs or jokes since the beginning of the pandemic.
Considering this increase in discrimination, API’s may find it helpful to educate themselves on what to do if they find themselves targets of coronavirus discrimination. For this, the organizations Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice offer the following suggestions:
1. Evaluate the situation and decide whether or not you want to respond. Everyone has different levels of comfort with confrontation, and it’s completely fine to walk away if necessary. Sometimes, it may even be the safest choice.
To evaluate the situation, check in with yourself and assess your surroundings. What did the person say or do that bothered you? How aggressive was the individual, and how likely is it that he/she will escalate the situation? Are there people around you who seem supportive? How safe are you in this moment?
2. If you do decide to respond, consider these strategies:
- Confront the harasser directly. You can name the problematic behavior by saying something like, “That was a racist statement.” You can also set clear boundaries with a script like, “This isn’t appropriate, please step away from me.”
- Ask a bystander for help. If you’re in public, you can ask someone near you, including an authority figure like a manager, for help. If the harassment happens online, you can report the harassment to the platform.
- Document the harassment. If you’re in public, you can film the incident. Online, you can screenshot the problematic messages. As Hollaback! and AAJC assert, “In a world that tells us we’re ‘overreacting’ or ‘making it up’, documentation can be a powerful antidote.”
3. After the incident, focus on your well-being. Harassment can be a traumatic experience, and it’s normal to feel a mixture of emotions. Take care of yourself by working through your emotions, talking to a friend, and exercising. Consider seeking culturally-competent mental health support through an organization such as the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association.
- Consider sharing your experience to create awareness about anti-API coronavirus discrimination. You can share your story at www.standagainsthatred.org/. Sharing your story can be an empowering way of reclaiming your experience.
To learn more about advocacy against harassment, please visit https://www.ihollaback.org/.
Additionally, to report a hate crime and to check out more resources regarding API COVID-19 racism, go to https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org/covid19.