Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic there has been a 1900% rise in reported hate crimes against Asian Americans. While anti-asian sentiment in America isn’t something that started with COVID-19, the virus is certainly accelerating it. You may have seen some of the horrific videos of Asian American elders being targeted and brutally attacked. You may be wondering why more people aren’t talking about this or why there seems to be a lack of media coverage. You may be wondering what you can do to help.
We’ve done some research and put together this guide for how you and your brand and participate in allyship:
1) Do some research (on your own) / Educate yourself
Context and nuance are incredibly important when trying to be an ally — and particularly when addressing an issue like discrimination against Asian Americans. Here are just a few topics to read a little (or a lot) about:
- The Chinese Exclusion Act
- Japanese Internment Act
- The 14th Amendment (and how it impacted racialized groups)
- Vincent Chin
- LA Riots
- The Myth of the Model Minority
- Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin
- Filipino Farm Worker Movement
Though this might feel counterintuitive, please try to refrain from asking your Asian colleagues what you should do or read or watch. Of course it’s great to engage in conversation, but don’t put the burden on your Asian friends by asking them what you should do. It’s ok particularly if your Asian coworkers bring it up but be there to LISTEN, not offer your experience or advice.
2) Take action
Now that you’re a bit more educated about the topic you can take informed and helpful actions to move the cause forward. Here are a few of possibilities:
Make the issue visible
One of the more frustrating systemic issues that the AAPI community experiences is visibility — you have the acute ability to address this simply by bringing up this issue — on your social media, with your family and friends, or even asking media outlets why they aren’t covering more stories about hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Here are some ways you can make the issues more visible in your workplace:
- Advocate for anti-racist training from your employer
- Suggest that your brand to use their platforms to bring awareness to the issue
- Invite people who are involved in this issue to create collaborative content with your brand to bring attention to the issue.
Advocate for representation
Another goal is achieving better representation. As an ally it is your responsibility to advocate for a more diverse workforce, more specifically, for better representation at the highest levels. It’s also important to hold people accountable when they fall short. If your workplace has made a pledge for diversity, hold them to it.
Stand up. If you see something say something.
This may be obvious — we hope it is- but it is your responsibility to stand up to racism and inequality when you see it happening. Speak up and let people know that their behavior does not get a pass from you. Additionally if you see a hate crime being committed against Asian Americans, or anyone for that matter, here are some simple guidelines for how you can intervene, and here is a place where you can report the incident.
3) Stay involved in the conversation
Now that you’ve done some research and taken some action, stay involved! One easy place to start is just following relevant accounts on social media. Obviously use your critical thinking skills to discern facts from memes (usually a good google search will set you straight).
Beyond social media, here are some organizations who have email newsletters you can sign up for to stay informed:
Remember, allyship is tricky, and we don’t pretend to be experts — at best it’s something we aspire to. That said, please remember that more often than not, doing something is better than doing nothing — so, please, do something. Being anti-racist is doing something.
Even if you get it wrong (or not 100% right), you are at least helping to move the ball down the field. Remember, if someone in a group you are trying to help corrects you or offers a different approach, thank them and view this as an opportunity to learn, and become a better ally.
A note about authorship:
This article was written primarily by a white man with help, advice and guidance from an Asian woman. We think it’s an example of a relatively easy step that someone can take to become a better ally. Thanks for reading and let us know if there is anything we missed or can add.