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Witnessing the increase in violence against our Asian elders these past few months has deeply angered and upset me. We all felt collective trauma when the news broke out about the murder of Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old man from Thailand, in San Francisco, and hearing about the many other similar incidents in America against the Asian community has certainly not eased our worries. The growing number of Asian Americans who experience racism and xenophobia is highly concerning, and comes as a result of the anti-Asian bias that was further fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The New York Police Department’s recent data reports indicate a 1,900% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes solely within the past year. This rise in violence against the Asian American community, as well as mainstream media publications’ unwillingness to cover these issues, is both frustrating and disheartening.
Asian Americans and Asian immigrants not only have to deal with the pandemic, but also the associated mental health issues that arise from seeing harmful stigma, violence, and discrimination against their own people. As described in a study for anti-Asian discrimination and mental health, “Racial discrimination is associated with higher psychological distress, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and depression.”
In trying to make sense of the anti-Asian violence, I began searching for ways I could help support the cause. When I thought about how to express love to my Asian American community, I felt as if it would be interesting to try and find ways to help by using the different love languages. In “What are the 5 love languages?” Julie Nguyen lists them as Acts of Service, Gift Giving, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Dr. Gary Chapman created these languages as a way to help us identify how we like to express love to others, as well as how we like to receive love from others. The goal of this concept is to gain a better understanding of each other's needs — whether it be between significant others, family members, or friends — in order to be able to support each other's healing and growth.
Rather than thinking about how to receive and express love individually, we can use these love languages to find new ways to help our Asian/AAPI community and fight against anti-Asian hate. Here are 5 ways to do that:
Acts of Service
Take action or volunteer in community-based interventions:
Compassion in Oakland – A volunteer organization that provides chaperone services to escort and keep elderly Asian Americans safe.
Report incidents of Asian American hate crimes to: https://stopaapihate.org/
Donate to organizations that are working towards fighting anti-Asian hate crimes:
Em Collective has started a GoFundMe to provide personalized alarms for self-defense to Asian elders in San Jose.
Aggregate GoFundMe to support organizations that help keep our Asian communities in the Bay Area safe.
Words of Affirmation
Acknowledge, amplify, and denounce the ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes:
“What is happening is not okay. I stand in solidarity with you.” As Michelle Kim, author of “On Anti-Asian Hate Crimes: Who is Our Real Enemy?” tells us, “Make space for our pain because there is always enough space for all of us — all of our pain, healing, and liberation can coexist without diminishing the other.”
Share personal stories or stories of other community members on anti-Asian hate through social media, blog posts, or by word of mouth, and raise awareness about these attacks. The more people are informed, the more impact we can achieve.
Spend quality time educating yourself on the realities of racism and its impact on marginalized communities in America.
The article “Resources for Allyship and Fighting Anti-Asian Discrimination by Asian@ERG” encourages:
Learning about the model minority myth and how it is used to create a divide between the Asian and Black communities in America.
Learning about America’s long history of racism against Asian Americans.
Learning about America’s long history of scapegoating its Asian citizens
“Acknowledging the reality of racism and the impact … will help dispel the heaviness and burden of being targets.” - Dr. Suzanne Chong
Since we are still in a pandemic, it is still very important to make sure we are all safe and socially distant.
Whether you are “physically” or “virtually” present in the face of discrimination, you can still take steps to learn how to safely protect yourself and others by taking the Bystander Intervention Training.
Of course, it is important to understand that we are all going through a lot and may not have the capacity to help to the full extent that we want, so it is perfectly okay if you cannot help through all of the love languages tools. As Dr. Chapman expressed, we all usually have 1 or 2 primary love languages that we identify with the most. So, what’s your love language? Is there a love language you would most like to use in fighting against anti-Asian hate?
Wu, Cary & Qian, Yue & Wilkes, Rima. (2020). Anti-Asian discrimination and the Asian-white mental health gap during COVID-19. Ethnic and Racial Studies. 44. 10.1080/01419870.2020.1851739.