Three Ways To Combat Hate

April 23, 2009 at 5:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Committee of 100 national, non-partisan, non-profit membership organizations composed of American citizens of Chinese descent, released important findings on Monday, revealing substantive perception disparities between the general population and Chinese Americans. See the press release, fact sheet, and full report here

The survey had four key conclusions:

  1. The general population really does not know that much about Asian Americans, let alone ethnic-specific groups (i.e., a substantial majority of the general population believes that there are far more Asians in the United States than in reality).
  2. A lack of education and cultural exposure is a key underlying factor for prejudicial views.
  3. More interactions with diverse communities improve public attitudes (i.e., more than a quarter of the general population report they never or rarely interact with Asian Americans).
  4. Negative attitudes toward Asian Americans correlate with negative attitudes toward other racial groups such as African Americans and Hispanic Americans.

So what does this mean? What do we do? Well, as much as these findings are alarming and saddening, the Committee of 100 Survey left me with some action items to share with you.

First, what do you do when there is a lack of knowledge? You bring the knowledge. As the population continues to grow, policymakers and the general population need to increase their awareness to make good decisions that affect all Americans. How can we help increase their knowledge? Participate in the 2010 Census so that there is an accurate count of Asian Americans. Fight for Asian American Studies courses on your campus. Host Asian Pacific American Heritage month activities with your organizations. Post accurate information about Asian Americans on your Web site. Correct inaccurate representations and respond to clearly ignorant incidences. There are many active things we can do to ensure that accurate information about Asian Americans is out there.

Second, put your best foot forward. With more than a quarter of the general population reporting that they never or rarely interact with Asian Americans, Asian Americans need to increase their visibility through participating in local activities, increasing philanthropy, and enhancing their voices in government. However, increasing visibility isn’t just putting any foot forward, but your best foot. If the 25 percent of people who never or rarely interact with you, and they see you doing something you shouldn’t be doing, what do you think that they’ll remember? Treat any interaction with respect and don’t burn any bridges. It only takes one bad experience to set a lifetime of expectations.

Last, and probably one of the most important and least recognized tip, bridge minority communities. “Power in numbers” or “the more the merrier,” whichever idiom you pick, remember the survey showed that negative attitudes toward Asian Americans correlate with negative attitudes toward other racial groups. Other findings in the survey showed that more prejudiced respondents are also less tolerant of gay marriage, free speech, and equal rights. So, remember that fight towards equity isn’t just one group’s fight. Band together and stay together.

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