By Jun Wang & Shayna Bryan (Interns & UAB Community Health & Human Services Students), & Dr. Larrell L. Wilkinson
The United States of America is a country of great cultural diversity. People from all around the world come here and contribute to the broader American community. Asian Americans & Pacific Islander (AAPI) citizens also call the United States of American their home, about 22.6 million in number which accounts for about 5.4% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2021).
Anti-Asian sentiment is not a new problem in the United States. Asian immigrants first came to the US in the 1850s and were instrumental in expansion and development of the western half of the country (US Census Bureau, 2020). But in response to cultural and economic objections fueled by ethnic discrimination, President Arthur signed into law the Chinese Exclusion Act, which remains the first and only immigration law that targeted a specific ethnic group. The law wasn’t repealed until 1943. This type of in-group/out-group mentality threatens our strength and abilities as a country. It is in this vein and in working to affirm the humanity of all individuals that the recent rise in violent acts against the AAPI community must be addressed and stopped.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans has risen by 150% (Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, 2020). During this time when our country should unite to face down the COVID-19 pandemic, some choose dissension, violence, and hate. But we can choose to be kind to each other, seek to live peacefully with one another, and act to care for our neighbors.
Here are some tips for all of us to combat this challenge together:
- Call 911 for help or to make a report to authorities if you witness a hate crime or harmful incident suspected of being racially or ethnically motivated.
- Use your voice within social media to speak against hate speech, while affirming support for all humanity.
- Do a “care check-in” with your AAPI neighbors and friends
For this on other ways to help build a more “just” and healthy society, please visit the websites of the Society of Public Health Education and the American Public Health Association. Please continue to follow us at the Wilkinson Wellness Lab. Join the conversation at https://www.facebook.com/wilkinsonwellnesslab. Let’s all be better, together!
Everyone please put on masks, practice social distancing, and stay safe.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: May 2020. (30 April 2020). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2020/aian.html
US Census Data. Retrieved from: https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=united%20states&g=0100000US&tid=ACSDP5Y2018.DP05&hidePreview=true
Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts. Office of the Historian, Foreign Service Institute United States Department of State. Retrieved from https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration
FACT SHEET – Anti-Asian Hate 2020. Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism. CSUSB. Retrieved from https://www.csusb.edu/sites/default/files/FACT%20SHEET-%20Anti-Asian%20Hate%202020%203.2.21.pdf
Stop AAPI Hate 2020-2021 National Report. Retrieved from: https://stopaapihate.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Stop-AAPI-Hate-National-Report-210316.pdf
Stop AAPI Hate Resources. https://stopaapihate.org/resources/