On April 3, 2020, Act To Change hosted our first virtual COVID-19 CONVOS: Rising Above Bullying & Hate with actor, author, and Act To Change chair Maulik Pancholy; Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06); 19th Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy; and actor Hudson Yang.
Below are our answers to some of your questions we didn’t get to during the live conversation:
- Some reports have shown that wearing a face mask in public will actually raise an Asian American’s profile for targeting. With the CDC planning to change its guidance on wearing masks, do you see more of the general public adopting face masks in public, and will that help reduce discrimination against Asians? The public should follow the advice of what our health professionals have issued. However, we should stay alert and be aware of our surroundings. And if you are subjected to discrimination, please consider reporting the issue to the FBI hot line or one of the many advocacy organizations who are compiling these incidents.
- How can we have better solidarity with other communities of color? Because as we know, the racialization of disease is not something new. Just as we at Act To Change are responding to COVID-19 with our COVID-19 CONVOS and resource sharing, many other organizations are also creating resources and hosting townhalls at this time. We encourage folks to sign up and be engaged with all the organizations and communities that speak to you. While there are genuine and real differences in how various communities experience racialization in the United States, there are also shared experiences and we know that solidarity with other communities of color is vital to navigating COVID-19 together. If you have any suggestions or connections for us, please let us know!
- Besides “Take Out Challenges,” how can we support Asian owned businesses experiencing this surge of discrimination? Are there multilingual resource guides? Most of the resources I have found are only in English (which makes me concerned for LEP communities). You can support Asian-owned businesses in a variety of ways! Of course, continuing to buy takeout and/or gift cards is a great way to do so financially, but we encourage folks to be creative and leverage their own skills. If you have the ability (or the network) to organize translation support, please do so! We’ve also seen young folks offering digital marketing and social media support for local businesses. Remember you can always ask business leaders how you can help!
- How would you deal with the concept that people who are trying to prevent ethnic bullying are being politically correct. What would we be able to do to counter that notion? Technically, the term “politically correct” is defined as speech that avoids offense or disadvantage to any particular group, and bullying on the basis of race is absolutely targeted to a particular group. But, we know that the term is often used to dismiss someone’s views and beliefs. In these situations, the conversation really isn’t about what is or isn’t politically correct, it’s about who gets to make that decision. Just as with any other community, Asian Americans have the right to say, “Hey, this is something real that is happening to me and my community.” We encourage everyone to share their stories and lived experiences.
- Do you have any advice for teachers as they move into online teaching regarding bullying? Hudson Yang shared a powerful comment during our COVID-19 CONVO, which is that online teaching relies on teachers trusting their students. We encourage teachers to give grace to their students as many do not have the resources or capacity to focus in the ways that we became accustomed to in the classroom. Even if your school district has been able to offer technology such as chromebooks, many do not have access to reliable Internet at home and/or a quiet space to engage in your class. We also encourage teachers to give themselves grace and compassion as we all collectively reimagine what rigor and a high-quality education look like online. This is hard, but please know you are not alone.
- How do we respond to academic professionals that neglect, demean or overlook the xenophobia and racism Asians are facing? Unfortunately, like with other large crises, COVID-19 is not the cause of anti-Asian xenophobia and racism — it exacerbated the systemic inequities that have existed before. Issues that hurt the Asian American community are often dismissed because of the model minority myth and the lack of representation and invisibility. We encourage academic professionals to listen to and learn from not only the stories that Asian Americans are sharing now, but also those shared before COVID-19. We especially want to uplift and support the stories shared by Asian American students navigating hate online and in school, across K-12 and higher education.