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"Should I be checking up on my Asian friends during this time?"

"Should I be checking up on my Asian friends during this time?"

This is something I’ve heard from many White friends and acquaintances ever since the Atlanta shooting… and my answer has always been yes. I know it may seem like a disingenuous greeting to send to your Asian friends and acquaintances but, more than anything it shows that you care and validates our concern that this is a real issue: that Asian targeted hate crimes are increasing and that it was not the result of a “simple bad day.”

I remember when I saw the faces of the victims of the Atlanta shooting I cried in my room because it felt so painful. They looked just like me. Just like my mom. That could have been my mom. In the beginning, I thought that this issue only existed in the United States - racism is so prevalent and rampant there but that can’t possibly be the case in Canada right? Then came the bad news…

RCMP reported a 717% increase in Asian hate crimes in the Lower Mainland and Metro Vancouver as the area with the highest number of anti-Asian hate crimes in North America. It then hit me that this is happening in my community as well and may happen to me on a random Monday walking down the street. My instagram was flooded with posts about the violence that was occurring and even accounts of people I personally knew who had experienced such violence.

Now it all felt so close to home; that my parents, me, and all my asian friends could be susceptible to such tragic fates. Now when I walk down the street I'm always on high alert, I turn off my music and walk with the anticipation of being attacked.

And of course as a woman, I have always felt the fear of walking home alone but on top of this pre-existing awareness is another factor that makes me more vulnerable: to be an ASIAN woman.

And no, things don’t end in sharing informative instagram posts, being on high alert all the time has changed the way I interpret certain things - as we become when we’ve been living on fight or flight mode for a while.

I wouldn’t say I’m coping well with all the added stress but one thing that has helped me deal with this is realizing that although these events make it seem as if the world is out there to attack us, there are some really amazing people out there that are supporting the Asian community and that there is hope out there. Another aspect is knowing that my body’s response is a normal reaction to the circumstances and here to protect me, and nurture my vulnerable and fearful self. And although those feelings are valid and serve a purpose they are not practical nor applicable when I’m creating unnecessary scenarios of all the scary things that could happen to me the next time I go out.

Below are some amazing mental health resources that can help you cope with the stress caused by this increase in Asian hate or even if you’re just having a bad day. Remember we are all in this together so never hesitate to reach out for help or support.

  • Hong Fook Mental Health Association: provides a range of services that integrate primary care and mental health services and promotes wellness in AAPI communities

  • S.U.C.C.E.S.S.: offer a wide range of programs and services that promote belonging, wellness, and independence for everyone - also has Cantonese and Mandarian helplines that provide emotional support and referrals to other community resources’

  • Asian Mental Health Collective: provides services that connect mental health providers with clients and share various mental health resources

  • Project Lotus: uses various social media platforms and podcasts to tackle the model minority stereotype and offer mental health resources while empowering Asian voices

Written By Sue Rim Baek

YMHA Contributor

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