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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

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Harassment & Hate Towards Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders during COVID-19

Resource & Support Page

“As we join together as a community to respond to COVID-19, we lead with the same values that shape who we are at all times at Stanford, including support for our international and Asian and Asian American community members. Hateful speech expressed against any group based on their race, ethnicity or national origin has no place on our campus at any time. Should you witness or experience an Act of Intolerance, please report this conduct.”

Stacey Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education & Postdoctoral Affairs

& Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

As you may have seen on the news, heard from friends or family members, or experienced yourself, a string of burglaries, hate crimes, and murders have targeted Asian and Asian Americans. From the murder of an 84-year-old Thai elder here in the Bay Area to the slashing of a Filipino man’s face in New York to the murder of 6 Asian women working in massage parlors in Atlanta, these violent attacks have left Asian communities in mourning, terrified of further harm, and left exposed without protection. This has prompted communities to take protection into their own hands, from instituting night and neighborhood patrols to an increase in firearms to larger calls for mutual aid and community care.

These horrific attacks build upon the open wounds of the harassment and hate crimes towards Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) that have risen drastically during the COVID-19 crisis. Due to the use of terms like “China Virus” and continued blame of COVID-19 spread on China, AAPI individuals have been targeted. Organizations tracking these crimes have recorded 3000 and counting different crimes, a number likely to be underreported. While this may be the most recent manifestation of a long history of anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiment within the United States, these hate crimes lay bare the long-standing institutional and societal racism that systematically targets AAPI communities and individuals.

Part of Stanford’s vision includes “integrating an understanding of attitudes, values, behaviors, cultures, histories, and our capacity for cooperation. It fervently underscores the need to provide strong support for the people in our community, and to advance our mission with integrity and values.” As such, Stanford commits to supporting its Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities within the wake of this new wave of hate and xenophobia. As a small step in ensuring this support, Stanford has created a page of materials and suggestions to help you feel resourced, empowered, and heard. While this is not an exhaustive list, we will be continually updating it with vetted resources. 

Though created in response to a current global wave of prejudice, this site will not only act as a reminder of the specific historical context of anti-Asian prejudice, but a call to our community members and our university systems to continue to fight against oppression and to work towards an inclusive Stanford for all.

  • I've been harassed
    • In-Person Harassment

      We hope that you will not need this section, but if you do- or if you have already experienced in-person harassment- here are some things to consider: 

      Online Harassment

      Not all harassment is in person. Many AAPI community members are experiencing racism and prejudice online as a result of COVID-19. Should this occur, here are some points of reflection in the moment:

      Though these are good points to keep in mind, there is no one or correct way to respond to harassment. Here is a great resource page that gives examples and multiple suggestions in responding to a harasser in person and online. 

      Psychological Aftermath

      After the event itself, you may have a lot of lingering physical and emotional feelings from nausea, pain, and numbness to fear, shame, and anger. No matter what you’re feeling, it’s valid: you’ve just been threatened and your body is in response mode. Do what you can to feel safe and seek comfort to bring your body’s response system down, whether it’s doing some deep breathing, looking at pictures of your pet, or connecting to other news stories to remind you you’re not alone in this. Here is a quick list of self-care tips on surviving and resisting hate. 

      No matter what you decide to do for yourself, seek connection with others. What happened was not your fault, you are not the only one this has happened to, and other people are there to hear about your experience. Whether it's a friend, family member, or mental health clinician, connect with someone so you don’t have to carry this experience alone. 

      Here is how to get help now:

      1. Safety. Your physical safety takes complete priority in order to ensure you leave the situation physically unharmed. Call 911 immediately if you are worried about your safety. 
      2. It is not your responsibility to respond, rebut, or educate your harasser, especially if you do not feel safe to do so. If you would like to engage, and you feel safe to do so, consider “calling in” strategies versus “calling out”
      3. Be compassionate and kind to yourself even if you wish you had acted differently. Remember, we do what we have to to stay safe above all else. 
      4. Remember that you are online. Online, people are much more likely to engage in inappropriate behaviors. They also may be anonymous or private, thus feeling unencumbered to express viewpoints while avoiding the normal empathy, compassion, or cues in an in person interaction. 
      5. Assess your capacity. While finding common ground can be productive in moving debates forward, it may take a lot of emotional and mental labor on your behalf. Assess if you’re able and willing to do so.
      6. Don’t Feed the Trolls. Do not answer or respond to questions or situations that make you uncomfortable or engage in a “flame war” confrontation. Most bullies are eager to provoke emotional reactions.
      7. Remember your options. There are lots of choices. Even if you are in an online space you cannot leave such as a Zoom class session, you can report the user or abuse (see below in reporting online harassment), mute or remove the abuser, or place them in a waiting room if you are the host. On other platforms, you can also report abuse. You can also delete comments, unfollow, and block whomever you want. You can also leave a chat, a comments section, app, or online platforms all together to take a break and take care of yourself. 
      8. Take care of yourself. Just like in cases of in-person harassment, it's important to be kind to yourself no matter what action you choose to take. 

  • I've witnessed harassment
    • Harassment Towards Strangers

      You may see others get harassed either online or in person, either through microaggressions or more explicit hate. It can be hard to know what to do in such upsetting situations. However, with a little preparation, we can be upstanders instead of passive bystanders-not only in the face of COVID-19 harassment, but in response to other forms of racism as well. This guide provides four easy-to-remember steps in how to be an upstander during COVID-19 if you think the harasser would be up for a conversation:

    • Interrupt the conversation or interaction to call attention to what was just said. Take a pause to show its important to address. (e.g. “Hang on, I want to go back to what you called the virus”)
    • Question the other person to better understand why something was just said. (e.g. “Why did you call it the ‘Chinese virus’?”)
    • Educate the other person not just by providing facts, but explaining what was said needs some reflection. Perhaps providing information on why we don’t name a disease after its place of origin, the long history of stereotyping immigrants, or how AAPI folks are facing increasing harassment and hate
    • Echo when others speak up too. Thank them, amplify their message, encourage continued breaks in complicit racism. Share anti-racist posts and messaging online. Show appreciation for others in comments sections, posts, and chats. 

    • Harassment Towards Loved Ones

      What if a family member, friend, or loved one has been harassed? If someone discloses such an experience or you witness it occurring, here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Everyone experiences things differently and that’s okay. You may react with anger while others may react with calmness or humor. Try not to judge how others respond (or don’t respond).
    • Just be there. When we see someone in distress, or we’re in distress, we may jump to action because we want to fix it. While there is definitely a time for problem-solving, a lot of the time people just want to be heard and supported. Let the person know you are there if they want to talk about it. Empathize and sympathize. 
    • Offer support. Maybe the person wants to report the incident, but doesn’t know how. Maybe the person wants to talk to a counselor, but is ashamed. Maybe the person doesn’t want to do anything. Offer to help in whatever ways you can, following their lead. Check in later so they know you haven’t forgotten about them.
    • Take care of yourself. It can be really hard to hear that those we care about are suffering, even sometimes more than our own experiences of pain. Make sure to connect with your supports, focus on things that give you comfort and peace, and give yourself your own space to process what was shared with you.
  • What is a hate crime?
    • Acts of intolerance include several different categories, such as harassment, hate crimes, and hate violence. What’s most important is that you report an incident, even if you are not sure what to call it. The next section discusses how to report incidents of intolerance and hate. 

      If you are interested in some definitions, here is how Stanford conceptualizes hate crimes: 

      hate crime is any conduct that would be a crime under California or federal laws and which is committed whole or in part because of one or more of the following characteristics (or perceived characteristics) of the target or targets- disability, gender, nationality, race/ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these perceived or actual characteristics. Hate crimes can include: physical assault, vandalism, threats of harm, criminal harassment, including threatening or repeated telephone calls or electronic communications. It is a violation of both California law and Stanford's Fundamental Standard to commit a hate crime.

      Campus Security Authorities are required by federal and state law to report hate crimes to the university's Clery Compliance Coordinator for inclusion in the Annual Safety and Security Report. Hate crimes must be reported to local law enforcement immediately or as soon as practically possible (per 67383 Ca Ed). Here is a flow chart to help you out in reporting.  There are some exceptions to reporting to law enforcement. Here's a link to read the law yourself.

      Again, it’s most important to report the incident, even if you are unsure whether it’s harassment, a hate crime, or another type of act of intolerance.

  • I want to report harassment or a hate crime

    • The decision about whether to file a formal report about a bias or hate incident is your individual choice. If you would like to report an in-person incident, here is Stanford’s suggested protocol:

      Step 1. Reporting to Police

      A. Reporting during an ongoing incident

      If there is an immediate threat to personal safety or property, or if someone has been physically injured, the target, witness, residential staff member, or third party should call the police immediately. Call 9-911 from a campus phone, or 911 from a cell phone or off-campus phone. Tell the dispatcher what is happening and remain on the line with the dispatcher.

      B. Reporting after an incident has occurred 

      (All reporting should be made through the Acts of Intolerance website. Click on the "Report an act of intolerance" red button on the front page.)

      If there has been a hate crime committed (or reason to believe that one has been committed), the police can be called by the reporting party and will be contacted by the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students.

      If there is reason to believe that an act of intolerance has been committed but there is uncertainty about the nature of the act, the police may be contacted for consultation and to assess the situation.

      On the University campus, if the act of intolerance involves property damage such as graffiti on a building, the Stanford Police should be notified as soon as possible and the police will preserve or document the evidence.

      Step 2. Preservation of physical evidence

      Before proceeding to Step 3, do not tamper with, touch, remove, or destroy physical evidence.

      If the police have been called or if it is believed that a crime has been committed and the police will be called to conduct an investigation, the police will collect and process the evidence. After the police have documented the evidence, the police or one of the persons listed in Step 3 will notify University Facilities or the University Housing office to have the material removed.

      If the police are not going to be called, the offending material should be removed or covered ONLY after consultation with one of the persons listed in Step 3.

      Step 3. Reporting to University Personnel

      Depending on where the act of intolerance occurs, the Associate Dean of Students will report the incident as soon as possible to the appropriate staff person as follows:

      • In an Undergraduate Residence Hall report the incident to a staff person on the residential staff: Resident Fellow (RF),  Residence Dean (RD), or Resident Assistant (RA).
      • In a Graduate Residence Report the incident to the Associate Dean of Graduate Life.
      • At an Overseas Campus, Stanford In Washington or the Hopkins Marine Station Report the incident to the Residence Dean, house staff, or the program director responsible for that site.
      • In any setting other than those listed above Report the incident to the Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students.

      Optional Legal Reporting Step:

      Follow up with an FBI report by submitting a tip online or to your local FBI field office (San Francisco office with satellite office in Palo Alto).

      Some additional Stanford reporting notes:

      If you would like to report an online incident, here are some options depending on the platform:

      • YouTube: You can flag the video or file for an abuse report about users/comments. YouTube will review the video to determine whether it violates its Terms of Use. More information is available in YouTube’s Community Guidelines
      • Facebook: Click the “report” tab alongside the content or reporting abuse through the Security Help Center. A Facebook administrator will investigate if the content or user violates Community Standards.
      • Twitter: You can report an abusive user through Twitter’s Help Center
      • Instagram: By accessing Instagram’s Help Center, you can report a profile or post through options on the app and on the web. 
      • Zoom: You can report an abusive participant either in a Zoom call or via email, instructions can be found here at their Help Center


      Graphic from #IAMNOTAVIRUS showing an man with a mask and an injury. Graphic says "the only thing spreading faster than COVID-19 is intolerance"

      Reporting to organizations and databases that keep track of incidents may help gather data, raise awareness, and procure resources. Here are some such organizations that are tracking harassment  building upon the list provided by Harvard’s AAPI resource page:

      Sometimes, sharing your story to advocacy groups can raise awareness, help other people know they’re not alone, and help you feel heard and not in isolation. If sharing your story and hearing others sounds helpful to you, here are some places to start (also suggested by Harvard’s resource page):

      • Stand Against Hatred is a reporting and storytelling site produced 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.
  • Why is this happening?
    • Though hate crimes towards Asians and Asian-Americans have skyrocketed during COVID-19, the U.S. has had a long history of anti-Asian and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

      US commercial/ political cartoon: Uncle Sam kicks out the Chinaman, referring both to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and also to the "Magic Washer." The actual purpose of the poster was to promote the "George Dee Magic Washer," which the machine's manufacturers clearly hoped would displace Chinese laundry operators. Image published in 1886 - Copyright now expired

      US commercial/ political cartoon: Uncle Sam kicks out the Chinaman, referring both to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and also to the "Magic Washer." The actual purpose of the poster was to promote the "George Dee Magic Washer," which the machine's manufacturers clearly hoped would displace Chinese laundry operators. Image published in 1886 - Copyright now expired

      “Yellow peril” was a term long used to describe the growing threat of other nations and peoples, but was appropriated to describe Asian migrants in the U.S. in the late 1800s as more Chinese laborers began to enter the country. Preying upon fears of invasion, accusations of uncleanliness, and the idea that Chinese workers were taking American jobs, the images of “yellow peril” fueled hate crimes like the Massacre of 1871, the Page Law of 1875 that targeted Chinese women immigrants by labeling them as “immoral”, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882- the first U.S. law to bar immigration solely based on race. 

      On top of the growing threat of the “yellow peril”, the eugenics movement took hold of U.S. society and policies in the early 1900s, asserting that in order to maximize the human race, the passing of undesirable and inferior traits through generations should be curtailed. This was used as a “scientific” foundation in creating a hierarchy of races and providing support for legal discrimination, forced sterilization, and many other racist and ableist practices. This pervasive ideology also kept alive the idea of unclean, inferior, and uncivilized Asian bodies.

      Some reasons for Chinese Exclusion, Meat vs. Rice, American Manhood Against Asiatic Cooliesm, Which Shall Survive? (Washington D.C.: American Foundation of Labor, 1902). Yoshio Kishi / Irene Yah Ling Sun Collection of Asian Americana made possible in large part in memory of Dr. Wei Yu Chen. Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University

      Building upon these ideas of racial and cultural superiority and fears of “invasion”, anti-Asian rhetoric was used to rationalize U.S. imperialism of Asia’s land, resources, and its people. Propaganda around conflicts with various Asian countries, growth and expansion of Asian countries and economies, and racist Asian U.S. media representations fueled continued anti-Asian violence as seen in Vincent Chin’s murder and the internment of Japanese Americans.

      In updating the hierarchy of races established by eugenics, Asians slowly began to be seen as the “Model Minority” due to multiple factors, the largest one being that they simply “weren’t black”.  By expanding on examples of Asian “success” in the U.S. through educational and financial outcomes (though by no means universal for all Asians), racism and systemic violence towards Black folks was maintained, while reminding Asians that their Model Minority membership was conditional upon their passivity and economic contribution. This Model Minority myth continues to obfuscate the diverse experiences of low income Asians, immigrant and undocumented Asians, Asian women and femmes, queer Asians, and other Asian communities.

      What does this have to do with COVID-19? With the source of the virus originating in China and  the U.S. President insisting on using the term “Chinese Virus”, COVID-19 was thus racialized, fueling stigmatization towards anyone even thought to be Chinese.  Building upon old “Yellow Peril” messaging of “unclean conditions in China”, invading foreigners, and “barbaric” eating practices, media and political messaging once again turned Asians into the scapegoat for COVID-19. Thus stoking fear and hatred and spurring violent attacks against Asians, Asian elders, and Asian women.

  • What can I do?
    • After experiencing/witnessing harassment or learning about anti-Asian U.S. history, it may feel discouraging to think that these deep seated issues of white supremacy, sinophobia, and xenophobia will ever change. Emotions such as anger and sadness are understandable reactions. However, change does occur through ongoing, vigilant efforts to confront racism when we see it in interactions, in our social spheres, and in our political and legal systems.

      Person-by-person we can fight racism when we see it, support others through their experiences, and work hard to continually educate ourselves to be leaders in our own communities and allies of others:

      Sometimes it can feel empowering to donate your money, time, and/or skill to different organizations trying to fight injustice and racism at a societal level. Here are some organizations to consider, building upon the comprehensive resources from A3C:

      • #wearenotavirus is a movement dedicated to ending the social stigma against Asians during COVID-19 and currently looking for student leaders and activists to help advance initiatives.

      • #washthehate is an online movement to promote solidarity across all communities in battling racism. Check out their site to download advocacy tool kits, report incidents, and learn more about how to flip racist rhetoric.

      •  Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC): The mission of Asian Americans Advancing Justice is to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities. AAJC envisions a fair and equitable society for all that ensures civil and human rights for Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other communities.

      • AAPI Emergency Response Network was born out of a collaboration between the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) and other non-profit groups with the goal of laying the foundation for a more unified Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) movement.

      • Movement Hub:  created to amplify the on-the-ground activism and organizing within Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities across the country.
      • I Am Womankind: Womankind works with survivors of gender-based violence to rise above trauma and build a path to healing.
      • National Organization of Asians and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence: Created by API anti-sexual assault advocates to center the experiences of victim/survivors of sexual violence from the Asian & Pacific Islander communities.
      • Red Canary Song: Grassroots collective of Asian & Migrant sex workers organizing transnationally.
      • AAPI Women Lead: Along with #ImReady Movement, AAPI Women Lead aims to strengthen the progressive political and social platforms of Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the US through the leadership of self-identified AAPI women and girls.
      • Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity: Serves victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking in Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities
      • Maitri: Free, confidential, nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area that primarily helps families and individuals from South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives) facing domestic violence, emotional abuse, cultural alienation, or family conflict.
      • National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum: Focused on building power with AAPI women and girls to influence critical decisions that affect their lives, families, and communities.



      Similarly, promoting the voices and experiences of Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders can also help diversify the narratives that we absorb from science, news, and media. Here are some organizations to support and promote from this great collection of organizations:

      • Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA): AAPA strives to advance the mental health and well-being of Asian American communities through research, professional practice, education, and policy.

      • The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) is a non-profit organization dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible. We do this by funding, producing, distributing and exhibiting works in film, television and digital media.

      Finally, changing our legal structures and voting in officials who represent us, our communities, and issues that matter to us can make a huge change. 

      • APIAVote is a national nonpartisan organization that works with partners to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in electoral and civic participation. APIAVote envisions a world that is inclusive, fair, and collaborative, and where Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities are self-determined, empowered, and engaged.

      • The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office. APAICS programs focus on developing leadership, building public policy knowledge, and filling the political pipeline for Asian Pacific Americans to pursue public office at the local, state, and federal levels.

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"Our Asian and Asian American students and scholars are an important part of our Stanford family and I am concerned that they may be feeling increased pressure or scrutiny at this time. I want to reaffirm that we stand in support of them, and all members of our community. The strength of our community comes from embracing our diversity and all that our varied perspectives and backgrounds bring to the table. The coronavirus affects us all — and it is more important than ever that we stand together to tackle the threat it poses to our world."

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne

While this page focuses on anti-Asian sentiment and harassment, these issues do not exist in a vacuum. Here are some other examples of how the COVID-19 pandemic has a disproportionate impact on specific communities:

  • Communities of color, especially Black, African American, Latinx, and indigenous communities, are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in terms of infection/fatality and access to testing and care. 
  • Low-income communities have also been disproportionately impacted due to disparities in access to resources and difficulties in being able to social distance in work and living spaces. 
  • Those with disabilities and medical conditions are also at increased risk, not only for disparate health outcomes, but are being cut off from care due to limited resources and social distancing. 

Of course, all of these communities intersect with each other and others. It is imperative to recognize that our efforts to support our AAPI community goes hand in hand with supporting all who are impacted by unjust systems. To learn more about how COVID-19 is affecting our many communities, check out this Stanford resource page for COVID-19 related resources

While there remains much to be done in combating COVID-19 prejudice, our AAPI communities have survived racism before and will continue to persevere through hardship and struggle. Together as a Stanford community, we will continue to stand in the face of prejudice, bettering our campus and community for all.