Indian Nurses Association of New York (INANY) partnered with Adelphi University in New York to hold a panel discussion on the surge in anti-Asian hate incidents in the United States. The program was initiated and planned by the university’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Council. For almost a year INANY has been collaborating with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families with a special grant from New York State to fight the rapid increase in the anti-Asian incidents in the United States.
Though the history of anti-Asian hate related racism, discrimination and crime is as old as the Asian immigration to the United States, there has been an unprecedented sharp rise of incidents against them since the onset of COVID pandemic.
Dr. Ani Jacob, a clinical associate professor at Adelphi University, a nurse scientist at Northwell Health System and chair of INANY’s Research and Grants Committee was the moderator of discussion which was attended by students and faculty as well as virtually attended by students, other faculty and Asian American Pacific Islander organizations. Dr. Anna George, the president of INANY, a nurse practitioner at Northwell and associate professor at Molloy University, Paul D Panakal, an adjunct faculty at Long Island University and a consultant at Northwell Health, and Dr. Mercy Joseph, an Assistant Professor at Adelphi University were on the panel.
Hate-related incidents against Asians in the United States date back to the beginning immigration of the community in the 19th century itself. The discrimination was validated and justified by legislation and court rulings. There was even a court ruling denying a right for Asians and others to testify against whites. The rules and laws were changed, Asian and Pacific Islander communities have started enjoying the opportunities for the American dream. Still, the nation witnessed an exponential rise in the incidents of hate and discrimination. Asian Americans experienced bias, avoidance, bullying, exclusion, spitting and coughing on the face, direct and indirect verbal harassment, demeaning and physical assault. The hate related mass shootings at a spa where six of the eight people killed were Asians and six of the nine killed at the Indianapolis FedEx facility were belonging to Sikh community. The Stop AAPI Hate movement which collects data on incidents of racism, discrimination and crime against Asian Americans reported more than 11,400 incidents from March 2020 to March 2022. These are self-reported incidents do not reflect the unreported cases. Another survey conducted by the movement found that at least one in eight Asians had experienced discrimination.
Based on the 2020 census the Asian American Pacific Islander community constitutes 6.2 per cent of the US population and is considered as the fastest growing social group in the country. Chinese (4.15 million), Indians (4.14 million), Filipinos (2.88 million), and Vietnamese (1.85 million) are the largest groups. The hostility and suspicion that Asians were responsible for COVID and that they are carriers of coronavirus did have a negative affect among the communities. The victims, their families and other loved ones found themselves living in fear and isolation, feeling unwanted in the society.
There are several organizations formed to stand against and to improve the social understanding of the communities. Asian Americans advancing Justice that is active to protect the civil rights and to advocate for justice, the National Asia Pacific American Women’s Forum which provides umbrella for Asian women, Asian American Advocacy Fund, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families are some organizations in the forefront. Indian Nurses Association of New York is collaborating the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families in raising awareness of the anti-Asian hate related incidents and to engage communities in mitigating the problem.
The panel discussion was titled Safety, Equity and Harmony for AAPI and was held at the Thomas Dixon Lovely Ballroom at Adelphi University campus. Dr. Kattiria Gonzalez, assistant professor at Adelphi introduced the panelists and welcomed the attendees. The panelists presented official reports, statistics and other facts with some video clips of certain incidents to describe the distressing social situation among the 23 million Asian American Pacific Islander community. The panelists also proposed an evidence based strategy to mitigate if someone witness a hate related bias or criminal incident. The strategy called Bystander Intervention provides guidelines for safely intervene a hate-related situation. They also called upon initiating a conversation among the students and others to raise awareness and improve education on the history of hate and violence. Adelphi University associate professor Dr. Janet Raman, Clinical Assistant Professor Dr. Charles Cal shared their own experiences and views and thanked INANY for their efforts.
Dr. Ani Jacob acknowledged and thanked Caitlin McElroy, the director of strategic initiatives at the University for working hard to successfully organizing and conducting the program. She appreciated and thanked Dr. Anna George, Paul D Panakal and Mercy Joseph for conducting an in depth and informative discussion.