Resources for Asian and AAPI Students Experiencing COVID-19 Related Harassment
29 April 2020
Below is a compilation of legal, social, and mental health resources for Asian and AAPI students who have experienced, or worry that they may experience, COVID-19 related harassment and discrimination. This list is not comprehensive. If you are aware of further resources not included here, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for updates.
Please note that CSD is not affiliated with, nor does it explicitly endorse, any of the advocacy groups, hotlines, or organizations listed here. This list is intended only to inform students and parents of resources available to them in the broader community.
If a student in CSD has been harassed or subjected to racial discrimination by a teacher or student, please contact your school’s administrator, if by an administrator, please contact the following CSD staff member:
Mari Ann Banks, District Equity Coordinator
Elizabeth Wilson Center
125 Electric Avenue
- How should I respond if I am harassed on the street?
- What constitutes a “hate crime”?
- What immediate steps should I take if I am the victim of, or witness to, a hate crime?
- What about a “hate incident”?
- What if I need legal advice or assistance regarding COVID-19 related discrimination?
- How can I access mental health resources that will address my specific needs?
- What if I want to report my experience to an advocacy/social justice organization?
- Other resources
How should I respond if I am harassed on the street?
We hope this never happens to you, but the unfortunate truth is that for many, it has happened already. Being targeted by racist harassment is shocking and frightening, so you may not be able to respond as smoothly as you would like to in the moment. Please always keep these points in mind:
- Your safety must always come first,
- It is not your responsibility to educate or admonish a harasser if you do not feel safe doing so, and
- Be kind to yourself, even if you wish after the fact that you had reacted differently.
There is no single “right way” to respond to verbal harassment. However, you may want to prepare by thinking about how you may respond to a potential harasser.
This is not your fault, and you are not alone. There is no such thing as a perfect response. Take the time to recover and employ strategies for taking care of yourself afterward.
Here are some ways to respond:
- Have a buddy you text every time harassment happens.
- Say an affirmation to yourself, like “I don’t let the haters bring me down. I deserve better. I’m awesome!”
- Share your story with trusted loved ones.
The idea here is that you want to develop resilience so that you can get out there and keep being you in the world.
We need to change the culture that makes harassment a “normal” part of everyday life. The articles below offer suggestions and examples.
- General guidelines for responding to verbal harassment and addressing the emotional repercussions: https://www.ihollaback.org/responding-to-harassers/
- Suggestions for dealing with and processing racist behavior both in-person and online: https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/people/how-to-deal-with-racist-people#fnref3
- A Muslim and Sikh man talk about their experiences, outlook on, and responses to hate speech (content warning: explicit hate speech): https://slate.com/human-interest/2019/06/how-to-respond-to-racist-harassment-man-up.html
Another way to respond to verbal attacks is to film the encounter with your phone. At times, the filming itself is enough to discourage a harasser. In addition, it secures evidence you might later show to law enforcement or legal advisors. However, as the first article advises, “trust your instincts.” Harvard alumna Tanny Jiraprapasuke, for example, used her viral video of a man directing a racist tirade at her on the subway, along with the hashtag #iamnotavirus, to help bring attention to the recent increase in hate incidents targeting Asian Americans. Depending on the context and the other person, filming has the potential to either escalate or de-escalate the situation. Your safety should be your first priority.
In the case of threats or actual physical violence, call 911 or find a nearby law enforcement officer right away. In the meantime, appeal to bystanders for help and draw their attention to the harasser. You can also download one of these apps which record audio/video if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, and will alert either 911 or your trusted friends/family members to your location.
What constitutes a “hate crime”?
➜ A hate crime is defined by the FBI as:
“[. . .] when a person or group of persons commits a criminal act, such as an assault or vandalism, with the added element of bias against the victim's actual or perceived membership in a protected class.
Under federal law, a hate crime is when a person willfully causes bodily injury or attempts to do so using a dangerous weapon, because of the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person. See 18 U.S.C. 249. The bias motivation does not need to be the primary motivation for the crime.
Federal law also protects interference with housing rights, damage to religious property or interference with the exercise of religion, and the exercise of a federally protected activity or other right granted by law or the Constitution. See 42 U.S.C. 3631; 18 U.S.C. 241, 245, 247.”
What immediate steps should I take if I am the victim of, or witness to, a hate crime?
- Immediately contact your teacher or administrator. If outside of school, make sure you are in a safe location, then, immediately contact 911.
- Leave all evidence in place. Do not touch or remove anything. Record photo or video evidence if doing so is safe/possible. If not, write down everything that happened as soon as possible after the event.
- Based upon the council of your administrator, or based on your outside experience, you may need to file a police report.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to file a police report immediately in order for your report to be accepted. Depending on the severity of the crime, reports may be accepted as much as one to five years after the fact.
What about a “hate incident”?
A hate incident is defined as “Acts of prejudice that are not crimes and do not involve violence, threats, or property damage.” Whether the discrimination you experienced was a hate crime or hate incident, or even if you are not sure if the person’s actions were motivated by racial prejudice, contacting your administrator or local police may still be an appropriate course of action.
The Department of Justice website has further information and examples on what constitutes hate crimes vs. hate incidents.
What if I need legal advice or assistance regarding racial discrimination?
Check out these resources:
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) has information on fair housing rights.
AALDEF is a national organization that protects and promotes the civil rights of Asian Americans by combining litigation, advocacy, education and organizing. Contact AALDEF for legal assistance at 1-800-966-5946 or through their website.
The American Bar Association has compiled a database with information on COVID-19’s legal implications, as well as offering webinars for legal education.
The ACLU offers legal advice and assistance to victims of hate incidents, hate crimes, and racial discrimination. Find your local ACLU affiliate here.
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) has a COVID-19 community health resource page as well as a page with links to resources for reporting, prosecuting, and receiving support for victims of hate crimes.
The Stop Hate Hotline offers legal and social resources and information. Call 1-844-966-4283.
The US Commission on Civil Rights can refer you to the proper official for filing a complaint at the Federal level.
Victim Connect Resource Center is a place for victims of crime to share their stories with specialists and learn about their rights and options confidentially and compassionately. They serve victims of any crime in the United States through online chat or phone. Call 1-855-4VICTIM (84-2846).
How can I access mental health resources that will address my specific needs?
Check out these resources:
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA): NAAPIMHA’s mission is to promote the mental health and well being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA): The national victim assistance organization that provides resources, assistance and support for victims harmed by crime and crisis. Call 1-800-TRY-NOVA (879-6682).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential, 24/7 support for people in distress, as well as provides crisis resources and best practices for professionals. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
SAMHSA’s National Helpline (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration): SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
South Asian Network (SAN) offers free and low-cost individual, group, and family counseling. They will also provide referrals to other mental health professionals.
What if I want to report my experience to an advocacy/social justice organization?
Reporting is of vital importance to ensuring both the public and government organizations understand the severity of the prejudice currently being leveled at people of Asian descent in America. If you feel safe doing so, please consider reporting your experience to an organization like the ones below. Please note that CSD is not affiliated with, nor does it explicitly endorse, any of the groups listed here. This list is intended only to inform students of resources available to them in the broader community.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) is calling for reports of racially-motivated hate incidents/crimes.
Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA) records incidents of anti-AAPI hate incidents/crimes.
Report Harassment (incident report form) to Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (English, Chinese, Korean, Korean, Thai, Japanese) http://www.asianpacificpolicyandplanningcouncil.org/stop-aapi-hate/
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is collecting and recording reports of hate incidents/crimes.
Stand Against Hatred is a website run by Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
The #IAMNOTAVIRUS campaign is a photography and storytelling series which challenges negative perceptions of AAPI individuals surrounding the COVID-19 crisis. You can request an appointment to share your story, be photographed, or report a hate incident to the campaign.
We Are Not A Virus (wearenotavirus.org) is a student-led global initiative to end the social stigma against Asians and to raise awareness about the coronavirus through education, advocacy, and resources. It was started by MIT students and partners with the MIT Innovation Initiative. The organization is currently seeking leaders and student activists to help advance the movement.
Nationwide Resource List for Undocumented Communities (Open Google Doc)