I grew up hearing stories of my dad, a Vietnamese teen refugee, encountering bullies who’d pick on him for the way he looked in 1980s Oregon. In the ‘90s, when I was a kid at the grocery store with my mom, I heard multiple cashiers condescendingly slow their speech and talk down to her because of her Viet accent. In the 2000s, my older siblings would tell me of times they were verbally harassed by their classmates for being Asian — shortly before I’d have my own stories to tell. [Un]fortunately, we’ve lived to tell our tales but that’s not the case for all Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
When COVID-19 came to America and I heard our former president associating it to folx with Asian ancestry like myself, followed by reports of hate crimes across the country from NY to the West Coast, I was reminded that as a Vietnamese American, this kind of anti-Asian sentiment is not unfamiliar. It’s an unsettling truth that became so prominent that President Biden wrote a memorandum explicitly calling out racism, xenophobia and intolerance of AAPI people, just a few days after he took office.
If you’re like me and wondering what more you can do to stand up against Asian American xenophobia, maybe one of these orgs will help you on your own journey of combating it, or understanding how to be a better ally.
Apex For Youth
This is an NYC based group that’s all about “connecting volunteers with underserved Asian & immigrant youth in New York City.” They’ve come up with a useful guide for how to talk to Asian American youth about racism, ways to support yourself/others, plus a coronavirus FAQ.
Stop AAPI Hate
In March 2020, this group became a reporting center for “incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.” The group hasn’t stopped in their effort and even have a virtual place to report hate incidents in multiple languages.
AAJC x Hollaback!
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and Hollaback! are two social justice orgs that partnered to host a bystander training to stop anti-Asian and xenophobic harassment. The next one is on March 15 and will get into the “spectrum of disrespect.” Register here for free.
Compassion in Oakland
This volunteer org aims to “embrace the often forgotten, underserved, and vulnerable,” in Oakland’s Chinatown community. Whether you’re an elder or young person looking for a chaperone or looking to volunteer, their IG bio shows ways to sign up and get involved.
This is a movement, that’s mostly led by AAPI celebrities, activists and artists “to combat the rising tide of coronavirus-related discrimination and violence against individuals of Asian descent.” The hashtag itself brings attention to efforts against anti-Asian discrimination to further inform you.
Merk Nguyen is co-host of YR Media’s podcast Adult ISH, distributed by PRX’s Radiotopia.