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Moderator Academy
December 15, 2022 · Last updated on July 2, 2023

Moderator Academy: Understanding anti-Asian racism

# Moderator Academy

Anti-Asian racism is discrimination or violence directed towards people of Asian descent due to their ethnicity or perceived racial characteristics.

Team Nextdoor
Team Nextdoor

As we’ve learned in previous modules, bias and discrimination can show up in our communities in different ways. With a rise in anti-Asian violence since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it’s important that neighborhood moderators are equipped with the tools to understand, identify, and combat anti-Asian racism in the event it may arise in neighborhood conversations.      

What is anti-Asian racism?

Anti-Asian racism is discrimination or violence directed towards people of Asian descent due to their ethnicity or perceived racial characteristics. Anti-Asian racism has been expressed through hate speech, physical violence, discrimination, and more.

Anti-Asian racism has increased in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as some individuals falsely blame people of Asian descent for the spread of the virus, but it’s also important to know that anti-Asian racism has a much longer history in the United States. (Source)

Why is anti-Asian racism harmful?

Policymakers from more than 50 U.S. municipalities have declared racism a public health crisis. (Source) Experiencing racism of any kind can have profound long-term psychological and physical effects, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Racism can also result in physical harm, posing a threat to the physical safety of individuals. 

According to the Asian American Foundation, there is a trend of feeling unsafe and a lack of belonging among Asian Americans. (Source) 1 in 2 Asian Americans report feeling unsafe in the U.S. due to their race or ethnicity and nearly 80% do not completely feel they belong and are accepted.

Examples of modern anti-Asian racism:

  1. Verbal and physical attacks both on and offline
  2. Making assumptions about an Asian person's language skills
  3. Making offensive jokes that reinforce harmful or demeaning stereotypes
  4. Calling for, aiding, or justifying the harming of people of Asian descent

Harmful anti-Asian stereotypes:

  1. Asians are outsiders or foreigners, regardless of their nationality or citizenship
  2. Objectifying/ sexualizing people of Asian descent
  3. Asians are “model minorities” or overachievers
  4. Assuming that all Asians have a particular physical appearance or the same interests
  5. Asians are bad drivers 
  6. All Asians look the same

Identifying anti-Asian racism online

Our goal is for moderators to be able to recognize anti-Asian racism in the event it’s used in conversation, understand its harm, and take informed, confident actions to ensure your neighborhood remains a welcoming place for everyone. 

In the event you notice a conversation with anti-Asian themes taking place, we want you to feel empowered to moderate and/or de-escalate these conversations in healthy and productive ways. Below, you'll see how best to take action on these kinds of posts should you see them in your neighborhood.

To best engage in conversations about Anti-Asian racism in your neighborhood, we recommend the following:

  1. Educate yourself about Asian cultures, histories, and contributions.
  2. Engage Asian friends and neighbors in conversations about their experiences. Listen. Be present, and listen intently to what they say even if it creates feelings of discomfort. 
  3. Speak out against anti-Asian racism by engaging in respectful dialogue and/ or challenging false stereotypes.
  4. Encourage conversations and interactions that foster understanding, empathy, and appreciation. 
  5. Avoid using anti-Asian language or making references to Asian stereotypes, even jokingly. 
  6. If you see a post or comment that you believe is discriminatory or racist in nature, follow these steps to report it.

Finally, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to engage in every conversation. Consider moving past the discussion if:

  1. You feel triggered by what has already been posted, and are not in a calm emotional state to respond thoughtfully;
  2. If what you’re going to say is not going to contribute to the conversation in a constructive way, or is not rooted in data or lived experience;
  3. If what you’re going to say is going to hurt someone (especially if they have a lived experience that is different from you);
  4. If what you’re going to say is not something you would be willing to say to a person face-to-face, in real life;
  5. You simply do not have the emotional bandwidth to educate or inform your neighbors.

For more support in having a hard conversation with neighbors, or supporting neighbors in having tough conversations with each other, see: Facilitating hard conversations: A kind guide

  1. Report the incident to Stop AAPI Hate
  2. Personally reach out to those affected in a show of solidarity
  3. Assess the situation and intervene if it’s safe to do so

Other resources

  1. The Asian American Foundation
  2. OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates
  3. Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ)
  4. Asian American Federation
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