In the rise of COVID-19, we have seen an unfortunate increase in violence against Asians and Pacific Islanders. Since the virus has been referenced with anti-China rhetoric, discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has grown. As an Asian American student, I have felt growing fear and discomfort even around diverse Los Angeles that has led me to seek out allyship resources.
My first real memory of racism occured the summer after my freshman year in high school. On a school trip to Tennessee, a group of eight of us walked across the street from our hotel to visit a go-kart track. While waiting in line, a teenager behind us came up close to us and told us to “go back to Japan.” His father standing next to him stared at us but did not say anything.
Discrimination against Asian Americans is not anything new. Since the hate-fueled attacks and harassment has only increased in the last year, there is a corresponding increase in social media and media attention and calls for action. To be an ally for racial justice, we should first educate ourselves on the history of anti-Asian racism to truly understand the short and long-term impacts on the AAPI community. PBS, Harvard and NPR have all published articles about the history of racism against the AAPI community. Race tends to be a delicate subject, but at UCLA, you do not have to stand alone. Fighting racism is a collective effort and many cultural organizations on campus are a good place to find advocates and support for the Asian student community.
During these difficult times, it is important to remember that passively sharing posts to social media is not always the best way to share resources, statistics or places to donate. Even if someone has the best intentions, it is still possible to spread misinformation, so make sure to do your own research before sharing information. Additionally, it may be worthy to check whether groups you share are advocating for unity between different minority groups as well.
While doing your own research and sharing resources is helpful, it is also important to donate, if you can, and support Asian-owned small businesses, if you are able to. New York Magazine has compiled a list of over 65 ways you can support Asian communities. Additionally, reach out to and support your Asian friends and colleagues, but do not ask them to educate you. Racism is not something you are born with. It is ingrained in the minds of people as they grow up. The same way you can learn something, you can unlearn something. To unlearn racism, we should all question our own privileges. While we will all make mistakes, it is important to apologize and own up to any mistakes we make.
I hope that, as the pandemic comes to a close, the discussion on AAPI discrimination and fight against racism does not end. I hope to continue doing my own research and supporting my friends through this difficult time. While social media will continue to be a platform to help share resources, I hope that we can end the stereotypes that we see in the entertainment and media industries and truly find a way for all minorities to feel safe.