Stop Asian Hate

Asian-American social workers experience rise in anti-Asian racism

By Gilda Balan, Correspondent

HONOLULU — Even in the most diverse of all 50 states, racism is still an issue.

The Asian-American community, which forms a huge chunk of the Aloha state’s total population, has noted a rise in anti-Asian racism, based on a series of reports from the University of Hawaii.

Faculty from the university’s Manoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health revealed the challenges and resilience of the community in three publications.

The anti-Asian hate was noted in the aftermath of the heightened xenophobia and racism toward Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

With master of social work student Jaron Yamauchi, Yeonjung Jane Lee, Clifford Beresamira, and Sophia Lau sought to address racism by understanding the experiences of Asian American social workers under the present climate of hostility and division.

Said Lau: “We saw community members in action, mobilizing, advocating, and supporting one another. We felt it was imperative that, as frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian American social workers’ stories, experiences, as well as their recommendations on advocacy efforts to combat anti-Asian racism were heard.”

Seventeen social workers were interviewed nationwide. The team’s efforts helped shed light on the multifaceted nature of discrimination and its implications.

Their findings were published in the Journal of Gerontological Social Work, Social Work, and Journal of Social Work.

Included in their findings were:

·       The damaging impact of stereotypes such as the model-minority and perpetual foreigner tropes, “which perpetuate unfair pressures and ostracization

·       The urgent need for social work education to better equip with tools for supporting marginalized communities and for workplaces to address discrimination and bias

·       The call for specialized support for older generations of Asian Americans who are more vulnerable to mistreatment yet may hesitate to report incidents

Bersamira said it was their hope that the study “encourages future research on how we can support Asian American social workers and those from other marginalized communities and address their needs.”

Lau also said that raising visibility about the unique circumstances that Asian Americans experience that includes their strengths and resiliency “is critical on so many levels.”

“In addition to the diverse ways bias and discrimination can look and be experienced, understanding the scope and intensity of these issues can support more meaningful interventions and outcomes,” added Lau.