How to Support the Asian-American Community

March 20, 2021

the Chinatown gate in Boston

There’s been a massive increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the last year (NYPD data shows a jump of 1900% in NYC alone).

In recent weeks, Asian elders have been attacked, robbed, and even murdered. Just this week, there was a shooting at Asian spas in Georgia, which left 8 dead, including 6 Asian women. The names of the victims are:

  • Soon Chung Park
  • Hyun Jung Kim (Grant)
  • Suncha Kim
  • Yong Ae Yue
  • Delaina Ashley Yaun
  • Paul Andre Michels
  • Xiaojie Tan
  • Daoyou Feng

Elcias Hernandez Ortiz is the sole survivor of the shooting.

Racism and violence against Asians is not new, but it’s an especially difficult time for our community because of these attacks. If you can, please consider supporting the AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) community in the following ways.

Ways to Help the Asian-American Community

1. Speak out if you see hate.

Hollaback! has an article about being an active bystander and they also have interactive training sessions (new sessions added on 3/18).

Keep in mind that you don’t have to witness physical violence to speak out. Racism exists in many forms, including microaggressions and the fetishization of Asian women. Here are some that are the most common:

  • Assuming all Asians are Chinese (i.e. saying “nihao” to everyone who looks Asian)
  • Saying “your English is good!” to anyone who looks Asian without understanding they could be a native speaker
  • Demeaning achievements by saying “it’s because you’re Asian”
  • Making your eyes look squinty and saying things like “ching chong”
  • Objectifying Asian women and wanting to date them only because they’re Asian
  • Blaming Asian-Americans for Covid-19
  • Aligning Asians with white people because they’re considered the “model minority” and pitting their experiences against those of other BIPOC

All of these either paint Asians as a monolith, deems them as outsiders, or are just blatantly racist.

If you live outside the US, recognize that racism exists in your community as well. I’ve actually experienced the most racism while living abroad, particularly in France. There is work to be done regardless of where you live.

2. Volunteer to escort Asian elders.

Asian elders have been disproportionately targeted in these racist attacks, and many no longer feel safe going about their daily lives. There are some orgs like Compassion in Oakland that are dedicated to matching elders with someone to accompany them when they’re in public.

3. Donate to grassroots AAPI orgs and the victim GoFundMe pages.

A couple prominent organizations are NAPAWF (National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum) and Red Canary Song. NAPAWF advocates for policy change to support AAPI women in three main areas: reproductive health and rights, economic justice, and immigrant rights and justice. Red Canary Song advocates for Asian women and migrant sex workers.

Also consider donating to Asian Prisoner Support, which “has led programs in prisons, organized anti-deportation campaigns, provided resources to “lifers,” and developed culturally relevant reentry programs.” Asian Pacific Environmental Network strives for environmental justice for all communities, but particularly Asian immigrants and refugees. I have donated to all four of these organizations.

@sasponella on instagram also made an incredible Google doc with organizations by state.

If you’d like to donate to the families of the victims, you can do so at on the verified GoFundMe pages.

One cool initiative that raises money but is free to you is the Atlanta Run Club’s weekend virtual run for Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Atlanta chapter). Simply download Strava, join the Atlanta Run Club, record your run between March 20-21, and submit your miles online. Each mile equals a $1 donation, up to $50,000.

4. Learn about Asian-American history.

I really like the Asian-Americans docuseries by PBS, and it’s currently free to watch. The docuseries is made up of five 1-hour long episodes that cover 150 years of history, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and Japanese Internment. I watched it over the summer and found it really eye-opening.

If you want some book recs, @mimizhuxiyuan compiled a list on Instagram. If you can, support Asian and BIPOC-owned bookstores.

5. Check in with your Asian friends.

Just a quick message to say you’re there for them and doing what you can to help can mean so much. Keep in mind that this may only be appropriate if you speak regularly (use your discretion). Please also don’t expect a response, as some may not have the mental space to reply to messages at this time.

6. Support Asian-owned businesses.

Asian-owned businesses, particularly restaurants, have suffered during the pandemic due to misplaced fear of Covid-19. If you can, order some takeout at your local Asian restaurants.

If you need to buy something online, consider shopping these sustainable Asian-owned businesses (some of these are affiliate links, meaning I will earn a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you. I will donate 100% to grassroots AAPI orgs).

Eco Amical—zero-waste, natural makeup by my friend Christine. Includes vegan options.

Girlfriend Collective—size-inclusive activewear made from recycled materials. Gorgeous matching sets and a closed-loop system.

Baggu—the cutest reusable masks and bags.

Huppy—zero waste toothpaste tablets

Cocokind—natural skincare products, including reef-safe sunscreen, makeup, and oils.

Blueland—low-waste refillable cleaning products.

A Few Reflections

I fully recognize that there is plenty of work to be done within the Asian-American community. Growing up as a second-generation immigrant, I’ve always been taught to not get too involved in politics. When Trump won in 2016, my parents told me not to worry because “it wouldn’t impact us” (oh, the irony).

I felt very frustrated by this disengagement. The Asian-American community is clearly not exempt from racism, and “keeping to yourself” also means failing to stand up for other BIPOC communities. There are also issues of racism and colorism within our own communities.

The recent string of attacks are yet another symptom of systemic racism and white supremacy. These systems harm all BIPOC communities in different ways. They also pit BIPOC against one another when we need solidarity to dismantle these systems.

My fellow Asian-Americans, take the time to grieve. Then, let’s learn and unlearn. Let’s raise our voices and advocate for our community and other BIPOC communities.

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2 Comments

  • Nina March 22, 2021 at 10:09 am

    The fact that there is still a debate on whether or not the recent attack was a hate crime is proof of how deep the desire to ignore these issues goes.

    It’s great to see there are so many organizations and companies one can support. (Of course, it also shows that people have to organize because they cannot expect much support from the government.) I’ll make sure to share this post.

    Hoping you and your loved ones are doing okay.

    • Lily March 23, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      Thank you for your support, Nina! I agree that the debate about this being a hate crime or not is sad and besides the point. I also appreciate these many organizations advocating for the community, but hope that one day there will be less of a need for them. I am doing all right and hope you’re taking care as well <3

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    I'm Lily, and I run races and go places (& blog about it). I also try to advocate for the planet & its people.
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