"I Brace Myself Every Time I Go Out" | Not in Our Town

"I Brace Myself Every Time I Go Out"

By Patrice O'Neill

How can we stand together as racism targeting Asians rises with the coronavirus?

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash


Last week, my coworker Mimi and I had just finished a Bystander Intervention Training session on responding to anti-Asian racism. Mimi is Chinese American. When I asked her what it was like for her when she goes out to do the grocery shopping for her family, her in-laws and the neighbors, she told me she’s scared. She said that one of her Korean-American friends had experienced racist verbal abuse at the store twice in recent weeks, so now her fear about the pandemic is amplified by fear of a racist attack.

“I brace myself every single time I go out,” Mimi said. Her voice as she spoke those words is in my head all the time these days. A website set up by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) asking for Asians and Asian Americans to share their stories of harassment, discrimination and hate gathered more than 1,100 posts during a two-week period in March. Over 100 of the stories documented assaults. Reading these first-hand reports from StandAgainstHatred makes the harm of these attacks achingly clear.

Of course, none of this is new. They are yet another wave of racism in an already ongoing public health crisis, one that is now fully on display as the CDC released a preliminary report this past Friday that 30 percent of Covid-19 patients are African American, even though African Americans make up only around 13 percent of the US population.

It underscores a broader trend showing that coronavirus isn’t an equalizer but a magnifier of inequality, notes journalist Zeesham Aleem in Vox.

How are we allowing this to happen, and what can we do to stop it?

We urge the NIOT community to stand with Asian communities to take action, commit to standing up, and take the time to understand how racism is harming our communities and our health. (Sign up for updates here.)

What can we do to Stop Hate Targeting Asian Americans?

  • Learn, Listen, Report, Act
  • Reach out to Asian neighbors and friends to find out what they’ve experienced.
  • Ask your mayor or city council to draft messages for the media and community condemning hate and supporting safety and support for all Asian residents.
  • Ask your police department if they are tracking anti-Asian hate or bias incidents and urge them to report back to the community.
  • Organize a Zoom book club meeting featuring books about the Asian American experience.
  • Ask your PTA what they are doing to support learning for Asian American Heritage Month in May.

Learn more about the rise in Anti-Asian hate and what you can do from this in-depth article by Eddie Wong. 





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