Stop the hate
Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a dramatic rise in anti-Asian racism. Hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020, mostly in N.Y. and L.A. Following the shootings in Atlanta, we reached out to Dr. Huong Diep, a member of the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community and board-certified psychologist, to talk about this issue and how we can all help. Her interview with us is below.
In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, we are donating a portion of this month's profits to Stop AAPI Hate.
Learn more: https://stopaapihate.org
Dr. Diep, you are a psychologist and also a member of the AAPI community. Can you tell us your perspective on the shootings in Atlanta and what this event represents?
As a Vietnamese-American woman and psychologist who works with racial trauma within the BIPOC and AAPI communities, I believe that the shootings in Atlanta were the tragic culmination of a year of chronic negative rhetoric and mislabeling of COVID-19 as the “China flu” or “China virus” by our previous president. These racist comments fomented an environment of hate, bigotry, and sanctioned violence. However, it is important to stress that anti-Asian hate is NOT new if we look back at history with things like the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Japanese internment camps.
Some people are hung up on the idea that this shooter was "not racially motivated." Why is this problematic?
It is highly problematic if we do not name the crime for what it was, a racially motivated crime that highlights the intersectionality of historical racism, sexism, and oppression of immigrant AAPI women. The perpetual hyper-sexualized and fetishized representation of AAPI women reinforces this idea of AAPI women being submissive and meek, and of being sexual playthings for white men, which also relates to the attacks in Atlanta. If we look at the 1875 Page Act, Chinese women were not allowed to immigrate to the U.S. because they were deemed immoral. We were seen as temptations. We need to label the crime for what it is to begin to seek justice, reform laws and heal.
Hate crimes directed at members of the AAPI community have dramatically increased during the COVID pandemic. Can you talk a bit about this?
According to the Stop AAPI Hate National Report, there has been a 150% increase in reported hate incidences and crimes towards the AAPI community, totaling nearly 3800 incidences. We must remember that this number is probably higher given that many do not report crimes or micro-aggressions due to fear of the police and a quiet acceptance of being seen as a second class citizen in this country. What angers me is that the majority of these incidents target our elderly AAPI community members, those who left their home countries in pursuit of a better future for their children.
Many people are not aware of the long history of discrimination in the AAPI community. Some even say, "Asian people seem to be doing just fine." Can you talk about this?
The Asian American “model minority” myth needs to be dismantled because it further perpetuates the divide between people of color and marginalized communities by using AAPIs as a scapegoat. The AAPI community actually has the largest income disparity within any racial/ethnic group and also the highest level of poverty at 12.3% (compared to 9.8% for non-Hispanic whites). Many folks within the AAPI community have been taught to keep their heads down and not speak up as a survival mechanism. I am proud and relieved to see people speaking up, including the first congressional hearing on anti-Asian discrimination in three decades.
How can people be allies to the AAPI community?
I applaud folks for wanting to become allies and encourage them to examine their motives in supporting any marginalized community and to see whether there are any components of virtue signaling or performative allyship. Folks can educate themselves by exploring anti-Asian violence resources, reading books such as Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong, and donating to organizations that directly support the AAPI community, such as the Asian Mental Health Collective. AMHC has a directory of AAPI therapists who offer culturally informed mental health services (and may offer pro-bono/sliding fee services).
Thank you, Dr. Diep!