Standing Up to Hatred + Ostracism

Ending Anti AAPI Violence + Promoting Belonging for All
"...[W]e heard from respondents [who submitted reports of hate] that it was hurtful to be targeted..[B]ut it was even more hurtful to have no one stand with them- no one intervened when clearly they were being targeted because of their race, ethnicity and gender.”
—Cynthia Choi, Co-Founder, Stop AAPI Hate

Dear SPARK Members:

First of all - we send love and compassion to the members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the wake of the escalating acts of hatred and the recent murders of 6 Asian American women in Atlanta. We see you, we care about you, we stand in solidarity with you and in sorrow for this violence and injustice.

SPARK Kindness commits to standing up against Anti-Asian discrimination, violence, and hatred of all kinds. We know that discrimination against the AAPI community is rooted in systemic racism and white supremacy that existed long before the pandemic. However, during the pandemic, the number of violent crimes against the AAPI community (and particularly Asian American women) has skyrocketed at an alarming rate. "According to the most recent data, hate incidents targeting Asian Americans rose by nearly 150% in 2020, with Asian American women twice as likely to be targeted." (See HERE)
"How cruel is it that marginalized communities live with the knowing that they must not only fear death, but also disappearing. ”
― Chanel Miller, author, "Know my Name"
As we know, Asian Americans have been the particular targets of racist and scapegoating language throughout the pandemic. As an organization founded on bullying prevention, we know that using language to "other” people (for whatever reason) dehumanizes them and legitimizes violence against them. As researcher and author Brené Brown writes: "Violence starts with dehumanization. Dehumanization starts with language."

Further, people who are dehumanized and ostracized are in danger of becoming invisible. Invisibility is particularly painful as it is a deep desire for all human beings to belong. But how do we promote belonging? What action can each of us take?
  1. Be careful to use language that is not stigmatizing. We can stand up and interrupt stigmatizing or racist language that is used in our presence (see here).
  2. Attend an AAPI cultural event (physically distanced :) ), ask questions and eat the food!
  3. Recognize the origin of Asian practices and traditions. Are you into mindfulness? Do your children or grandchildren take karate? Research about those important traditions and their roots in Asian culture (here).
  4. Ask how to pronounce peoples' names correctly. (It makes a difference - we all feel "seen" when someone says our name).
  5. Be aware of the use of stereotypes. Learn about the "Model Minority Myth" which categorizes and silences AAPI community members.
  6. Focus on individuals, not group identity. "One of the best ways to reduce the brain’s natural tendency to categorize people and see them through stereotypes is to get to know them as individuals." (here)
  7. Show that you care. Reach out to your friends and neighbors from the AAPI community. Continue to do so next week, when the news cycle (unfortunately) moves onto other topics. Bear witness to their experience and offer support.
  8. Be kind to yourself. Humanization of others begins with humanizing yourself. You are not perfect - no human is! But if you are leaning in with cultural humility and putting your kindness into action, you are making a difference!
(This statement written by Heena Suratwala, Chief Inclusion Officer of our Network partner, Westborough Connects, has some wonderful ideas for reaching out.)
"Talk about the importance of what our Asian cultures have produced in your life. LOOK at a map and familiarize yourself with our countries. Purchase our songs. Eat our food. Deepen your respect, and turn that deeper respect into action for us when we are attacked...”
― Chrystal Chan
Many parents have asked in our programs - what can I teach my children about discrimination and racism? The fact of the matter is that parents and caregivers of AAPI families (as well as BIPOC families) are having to talk to their kids regularly about how to stay safe amidst hate crimes and racialized violence. This is a horrific reality. But AAPI and BIPOC families should not be alone in having regular family conversations about racism. Here are some questions that we can all be asking:
  • What conversations are we (particularly White families) regularly having with our children about racism, violence, and stereotypes?
  • How are we actively teaching ourselves and our children to intervene when people are targeted, bullied, or harassed?
  • When we recognize success in our children, do we include their acts of empathy, kindness, inclusion, and moral courage?
  • Have we talked to our children about the harmful effects of dehumanizing language or slurs (regarding ANYONE, including people with whom we disagree)?

We invite the SPARK community to join us in this challenging and necessary work. There are resources below to sign up for a FREE Bystander Intervention Training (by Asian Americans Advancing Justice), attend a local rally, and take part in the Holi Festival. There are also toolkits and resources to build your awareness so that you can better work to promote the empathy, humanity, and diverse cultures of the AAPI Community.

We also encourage you to connect with our amazing community partners who are working to promote anti-racism and an inclusive community every day:

We have also provided resources for the AAPI Community (including SPARK programs for parents, caregivers, and educators) to support themselves during this very painful time. We send our compassion to you. We offer our solidarity with you. You are not alone.

Yours in community,
Christine (for the SPARK Team)
Ways to Take Action + Stand Up
Some ideas of ways to take action to help:
Resources for AAPI Community Members
Mental Health
Trauma Informed Care
Resources for Educators
Featured Resources on Anti-AAPI Racism
Brilliant (4 min) Video - Anti AAPI Violence by Karen Chee
Just One Example of Report of AAPI Violence
Every time we do something that helps our community grow more kind, resilient and welcoming, we SPARK Kindness. Together as families, schools, organizations, coaches, artists, faith and community leaders, we can make sure that no one feels alone, bullied, unsupported or unconnected.
SPARK Kindness is a community convener, educator, resource, and friend—and the biggest fan of our shared strengths. Join us in Natick and our growing network of communities.