Have you heard of or seen the viral video of the 91-year-old man being shoved, on camera, in Oakland’s Chinatown? Or the 84-year-old Thai American man who was killed in an unprovoked attack in San Francisco? What about the 64-year-old Vietnamese American woman who was assaulted in broad daylight in San Jose, and robbed of $1,000? Or the 61-year-old Filipino American who was slashed in the face with a box cutter while riding the subway?
This may be the first time you are hearing about these violent stories if you are not following Asian American news. Mainstream American media does not cover these stories. The amount of anti-Asian hate incidents and racism have skyrocketed to an astounding 1,900% in New York City alone. Asian Americans have been a target since the beginning of the pandemic. This increase has been fueled by former president Donald Trump inaccurately calling the coronavirus the “China virus” and the fact that the first known outbreak was in Wuhan, China.
Asian American Hate Crimes
Across the country, there were more than 2,500 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents related to COVID-19 between March and September 2020. That number has gone up to 2,800 as of February 2021. Asian Americans face increased racism, discriminatory and xenophobic attacks that are both heinous and dehumanizing.
We are not just talking about hate crimes. We are talking about hate incidents which include getting yelled at, verbal harassment, and the use of racial slurs aimed at Asian Americans. These are not just microaggressions but a clear picture of racial trauma. This trauma will have lasting effects of depression and sleeplessness. It will lead many victims to avoid places where they experienced an act of racism.
Historically, Asian Americans are painted as compliant, and successful. Furthermore, they are also the minority group least likely to reach out for help. In fact, they are roughly three times less likely than whites to seek mental health help. Although Asian Americans report fewer mental health issues than whites, they are more likely to consider and attempt suicide.
We Need To Do Better for Asian American Communities
Asian American mental health issues are not discussed within their communities. They are also not reflected in mainstream media. This leads to feelings of discouragement which deters many from this group from raising their voices. No matter how difficult this year has been for Asian Americans, asking for help can still feel like an insurmountable barrier due to the pressures and expectations that the model minority myth has set.
The model minority myth is the perception of members of one minority group being particularly successful, especially in a manner that contrasts with other minority groups. Many believe this drives a wedge between different disadvantaged groups. Others claim it to be misleading because it doesn’t account for everything that encompasses the Asian American community.
Asian American Representation in the Mental Health Field
There has not been enough focus on the Asian American community and the ongoing struggles they face. Now and even prior to the pandemic. We should place focus on Asian American representation in mental health and in creating Asian American-specific healing spaces. This will help people feel comfortable talking about their needs.
We all need to come together collectively and advocate for each other during times of struggle. We can show our support by spreading news and information on social media sites, engage in conversations with victims of anti-Asian hate incidents and donate to nonprofit organizations. There’s a lot more work that needs to be done.
Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) nonprofits for donation:
- South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) – https://saalt.org
- The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) – http://www.nqapia.org/wpp/home/
- The Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund (AALDEF) – https://www.aaldef.org
- The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) – https://www.capal.org/site/
- CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities – https://caaav.org
Grace Kim is a Resident in Counseling providing services at the Woodbridge location. She is a Qualified Mental Health Professional for Children (QMHP-C) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC). Grace received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and her Master of Arts Degree with high honors in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from South University.
Grace has extensive experience in providing outpatient counseling services to children, adolescents, and young adults. She also has sufficient experience working with adult clients with longstanding substance abuse issues. She is an individual who has had her own share of mental health challenges and, with the help of those around her, has been able to overcome obstacles and barriers in her life. To learn more about Grace, visit HERE.