#StopAsianHate: How to Help Without Harming

I was a high school senior working as a clerk at Hannaford Supermarkets in Bridgton, Maine. I was manning one of the express checkout registers when a man came up, silent and stone-faced, to purchase his items. I went about the routine of greeting and ringing through his items, and handed him his receipt and change. He walked off and I moved on to the next customer, smiling and greeting them. In the middle of the exchange, the man returned, red-faced and angry. The words that came out of his mouth I remember to this day:

https://www.injectmatic.com/579-dtgf78345-kat-von-d-sexy.html “In my country, you owe me ten cents.”

This was the first memory that I recalled when reading the news about anti-Asian racism in Maine and across the country.

This week has been a hard one. Almost too many emotions at once. Anger, sadness, fear, anxiety. It is the same for so many of my Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) brothers and sisters. But a glimmer of hope shines through the darkness: People are finally paying attention.

But all of this attention is a double-edged sword. It can be helpful and it can also be harmful, no matter how well-intentioned.

So how can people, especially white people, help and support the AAPI community during times like these? Here are some ways you can help without compounding the trauma or making things worse for the AAPI community:

(1) Königswinter Educate Yourself and Acknowledge that Anti-Asian Racism is Real

While there are plenty of AAPI people willing to do the work, including me, we should not be relied upon 100% of the time to do 100% of the work of educating people on the history of anti-Asian racism and the biases, stereotypes, and microaggressions that come up in our everyday lives.

In fact, I would advise that people do most of the leg work on educating themselves, reading, studying, taking notes, etc., before engaging with AAPI and other BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) folks around the issues of racism and xenophobia.

The history of anti-Asian racism specifically in America has its roots in the same white supremacy that created a culture and society ingrained with anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-Indigenous and anti-semitic beliefs and built institutions and structures aimed at providing advantages and privileges to whites, while putting in place obstacles and disadvantages aimed at keeping BIPOC subservient. These include slavery, genocide, disenfranchisement, exclusionary laws and discriminatory policies as it relates to education, housing, policing, etc.

On anti-Asian racism specifically, you can look to a list of articles and resources that the HHRC has put together. I have posted some resources below to get people started:

(2) Check-in but don’t force AAPI people to share their trauma and feelings

This is a balance. But the first thing you should consider is what is my relationship with this person? 

Do I have enough trust and enough of a relationship that warrants me reaching out? Simply reaching out to someone because they’re AAPI or look AAPI, while well-intentioned, can make them feel like they’re being singled-out or targeted and forced to share their emotions and feelings.

If you consider yourself a good friend, however, or have some sort of relationship with a level of trust, then reach out and make yourself available. First. Let them know that you are there if they want to talk or share what they’re going through. You can also do gestures of kindness like sending them a card letting them know that you’re thinking of them or leaving them a small care package.

The overall point? Make yourself available but don’t force it.

(3) Take Action

Don’t be a bystander. Stop AAPI Hate offers the following suggestions if you are witnessing hate-in-action:

  1. Take Action: Approach the targeted person, introduce yourself, and offer support.
  2. Actively Listen: Ask before taking any actions and respect the targeted person’s wishes. Monitor the situation if needed.
  3. Ignore Attacker: Using your discretion, attempt to calm the situation by using your voice, body language, or distractions.
  4. Accompany: If the situation escalates, invite the targeted person to join you in leaving.
  5. Offer Emotional Support: Help the targeted person by asking how they’re feeling. Assist them in figuring out what they want to do next.

You can train on being an active bystander and intervener. Prevention Action Change is a local organization that specializes in training and building skills to end violence.

If you’d like to find training on cultural competency and intercultural communication, check out the Maine Intercultural Communications Consultants.

(4) Support AAPI organizations and businesses

Support organizations and businesses that are AAPI-led. I’ve provided links below!

·         List of Asian-owned businesses: https://www.aobiz.me/

·         Cambodian Community Association of Maine: www.cambodiancommunity.me

·         Unified Asian Communities: https://www.unifiedasiancommunities.com/

·         India Association of Maine: https://www.facebook.com/India-Association-of-Maine-309596004168

Marpheen Chann

Marpheen Chann

Marpheen Chann is HHRC’s Southern Maine Educator. He is an openly gay, second-generation Cambodian American and a Portland, Maine-based thinker, writer and speaker on LGBTQ+ and immigrants’ rights, social justice and equality. He was born in California to a refugee family who later moved to Maine in the late-90s. At the age of 9, he was placed in foster care and later adopted at age 14 by an evangelical, white working class family in Western Maine. Marpheen is the president of the Cambodian Community Association and has served on the boards of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and Maine Association of New Americans. While in law school, he chaired the Maine Law LGBTQ+ Law and Policy group and spent 7 months in the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Marpheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Maine and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law. Email: marpheen.channberry@maine.edu
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