Resources to Address Anti-Asian Racism on Campus

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July 1, 2021

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Anti-Asian racism and hate crimes have been on the rise since the outbreak of COVID-19. Already receiving lower levels of support than necessary due to the model minority myth, Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) need support and assistance from allies now more than ever.

On college campuses, the Asian American experience may not match what outsiders perceive. How Asian American college students perform academically compared to other demographics does not erase the anti-Asian hate, harassment, and bigotry they face on campuses. Asian college students require mental health services and safe spaces at school, along with active efforts to dispel anti-Asian racism and prevent Asian American hate crimes from taking place.

Thankfully, several organizations across the country have stepped up to provide support and assistance to Asian college students and their communities. Read on to explore some of the issues faced by Asian American college students and ways for potential allies to support AAPI people and help make a difference.

Safety Concerns for Asian American College Students

Asian college students encounter situations that many people cannot comprehend. On college campuses across the country, these degree-seekers must worry about their own safety and contend with anti-Asian racism from other students, teachers, and institutions. The following are just some of the threats AAPI learners experience regularly.

Physical Violence

Asian American college students face threats of physical violence on campuses everywhere. Yet, the reported numbers do not tell the whole story, as many who have experienced Asian American hate crimes, such as getting spit on or beaten up, do not report the incidents for fear of causing trouble.

Anti-Asian hate crimes often feature racist verbal assaults, but these can easily escalate into violent physical attacks, such as the tragic shooting in Atlanta. Asian women in particular may feel exceptionally vulnerable on college campuses when walking alone or at night. Colleges need to integrate more security, public acknowledgement, and safe spaces to better protect them.

Discrimination

Discrimination comes in many forms, and it impacts people differently. According to AAPI Data, more than 75% of AAPI people have experienced discrimination. After former President Donald Trump began using terms like "kung flu" and the "China virus," discriminatory experiences increased even more.

Discrimination can be masked by seemingly positive treatment as well. The model minority myth stereotypes AAPI people as somehow better positioned than other minorities. This leads to fewer support resources, an erasure of the true Asian college student experience, and more misplaced anti-Asian hate and envy.

Bullying

According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of AAPI students experience Anti-asian racism and bullying. They have been the victims of verbal and physical assaults on school grounds and online. They hear racist jokes and face negative stereotypes from their peers at all ages and educational levels.

Due to the model minority myth, people may bully Asian American college students because they perceive them to be privileged. Other communities of color may not ally with AAPI people because of this stereotype as well. Everyone needs to step in to shut down bully behavior, including online memes and social media posts.

Mental Health

Asian college students struggle with mental health issues, such as so many other learners, but academic successes can hide their challenges. Due to bullying and racial discrimination, Asian American college students can suffer from depression at higher-than-average rates.

At home, AAPI students can also face pressure to live up to unrealistic standards. While discussing mental health has historically been taboo in AAPI communities, that is gradually changing, and more support resources have become available. Colleges and universities can maintain this momentum by actively supporting mental health awareness and Asian American wellness groups.

What is Allyship?

Allyship has evolved, as the term ally was misused and misappropriated in the past. According to Building Allies, active-allyship works better, as it stresses the need for activity, response, and engagement. Active-allyship requires listening and learning to understand and grow over time and provide support whenever and wherever needed.

Becoming an active-ally is a gradual process that happens as people challenge themselves and those around them. It begins with awareness and action and eventually evolves into integration as active-allies become more comfortable in their new role. This process asks allies to consider their own privilege and, rather than separate themselves from the perpetrators, actively oppose them.

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Together, active-allies can help people of color break down the barriers, language, and oppressive systems that create and grow inequalities. The goal of active-allyship is to celebrate the differences among people and help champion change and growth for underrepresented populations.

Colleges can help grow allyship by investigating their own hiring practices and communications and establishing more relevant student services for people of color. They can make learning resources and opportunities accessible for potential allies and actively work toward inspiring others. Higher education institutions can also ensure that Asian college students feel welcome in classrooms, on campus, and in college organizations.

How to Respond to Anti-Asian Hate on Campus

Education

Active-allies can fight against anti-Asian hate on campus by educating themselves on the topic. They can seek out resources on anti-Asian racism, how to ally effectively, and what types of support Asian American college students want and need. Prospective allies can listen and welcome being challenged and informed about their own privileges.

Active-allies should also question their former education on the matter. Since allyship is ever-changing, people need to be willing to review and renew what they thought they knew. They need to learn where racial injustices take place to confront them and what triggers or hurts Asian college students.

Challenge

Active-allies must be unafraid to challenge the people, practices, and institutions that contribute to anti-Asian racism. The ally must start this process with an internal review and then expand outward to friends and family. Challenge privilege, language, thinking, and inactivity, and encourage others to do the same.

From there, active-allies can move into more difficult territory and challenge the systems, organizations, and strangers around them. Interrogate questionable practices and lack of representation, and shut down anti-Asian racism. Perhaps most importantly, active-allies should do this even without an audience.

Reporting

Silence and indifference to anti-Asian racism only makes matters worse without ever addressing the problem. All acts of bigotry should be reported and confronted, not just severe Asian American hate crimes. Witnesses to anti-Asian hate can report their accounts to the local authorities, campus police, administrators, or support organizations.

In addition to providing the information necessary to punish perpetrators, reported incidents also inform the research, program development, and policy changes that improve life for Asian college students. Organizations like Stop AAPI Hate use reported data to better serve affected individuals and communities and help improve the Asian American college student experience.

Support

While many claim to support Asian college students, active-allies show outward signs of it. They enroll in relevant classes and register for discussions, presentations, and workshops. Active-allies also join student organizations and initiatives aiming to spread awareness and actively combat anti-Asian hate.

On a more personal level, active-allies listen to the Asian college students around them. They hear and react to their challenges and they provide whatever form of help their friends, classmates, and peers need. They stand together in solidarity with Asian American college students and help amplify their voices in all forums.

Additional Resources

Stop AAPI Hate

Stop AAPI Hate was developed by the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University, and the Chinese for Affirmative Action in 2020 in response to the growing pandemic-inspired xenophobia.

The organization aims to address all reported instances of anti-Asian hate and anti-Asian racism. Stop AAPI Hate tracks Asian American hate crime incidents, provides support to affected communities and individuals, and advocates for improved policies and protections.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Founded in 1991, AAJC fights to improve the rights of Asian Americans and the policies that protect them. The organization comprises a national chapter, an Atlanta chapter, a Los Angeles chapter, a Chicago chapter, and the Asian Law Caucus.

In addition to raising awareness about anti-Asian hate, the organization informs people about racial profiling, immigration rights, voting rights, and racial justice programs. AAJC also pushes back on media diversity issues and troubling admission requirements at colleges that hinder Asian college students.

Asian American Federation

Since 1989, AAF has served the pan-Asian American community through nonprofit support groups, advocacy, and public awareness efforts. The federation represents Asian New Yorkers in various areas, including immigration, economic development, and mental health support.

The federation tells the stories of anti-Asian racism and discrimination, conducts research into the issues that affect the Asian population most, and runs direct service programs for the underserved and most deserving segments of the population.

Asian Mental Health Collective

The Asian Mental Health Collective strives to destigmatize and improve access to mental health support within the Asian community. The collective helps people discuss and manage mental health issues while honoring Asian culture, traditions, and older generations.

The Asian Mental Health Collective promotes various mental health professionals and provides safe spaces to discuss mental health concerns. Visitors can also find resources on mental health and information about professionals in their communities.

Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American (APISAA) Therapist Directory

Associated with the Asian Mental Health Collective, the APISAA Therapist Directory helps the Pan-Asian community connect with mental health professionals in their states. People can use the directory to find local therapists or manually search for professionals serving each location.

This type of service allows people to get help from members of their own community who may better understand their concerns, families, and traditions.

The AAPI COVID-19 Project

The AAPI COVID-19 Project researches the many different ways the pandemic has impacted AAPI communities. The project examines how the virus has shaped communities, how people have responded, and how the organization and others can and should address inequalities.

The COVID-19 Project also provides access to various publications, resources, and anti-Asian hate and anti-Asian racism support services.

Related Pages

The Asian American Experience on College Campuses How Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Are Affecting College Students Busting the Model Minority Myth of Asian Americans Scholarships for Asian American Pacific Islander College Students
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