Here's How Your Family Can Support the Asian American Community


Key Takeaways

  • Anti-Asian American violence is on the rise in the U.S.
  • Experts say allyship is necessary for stopping the spread of hate.
  • Prioritize having appropriate conversations around anti-racism so kids can better understand the complexity of the situation.

COVID-19 exacerbated anti-Asian racism that’s persisted for centuries. With the onus for the spread of the virus being placed on China, anyone who appears to be Chinese has likely felt a heightened sense of fear as violence has escalated in the U.S.

This violence accompanies the passive remarks, stereotyping, and fear that have persisted for years. A 2017 study found that 32% of Asian Americans had been on the receiving end of racial slurs and 35% were stereotyped. In 2020, there was a 149% increase in Asian hate crimes, not including stereotypes and slurs.

Needless to say, it’s more important than ever to work towards becoming allies for the Asian American community. Experts weigh in on how to stand up for our friends. 

Have Age-Appropriate Conversations With Non-Asian Children 

New Jersey-based psychologist Xiaolu Jiang, PhD, says that before sitting a child down to discuss this topic, parents should be mindful of their child's age and existing understanding.

She explains, “Non-Asian parents of younger children can focus on similarities and differences between their children and Asian children and families. If they have friends or family members who are Asian, it might be helpful to think of ways they are alike or different from them."

For example, this might mean taking note of how Asian classmates may celebrate different holidays or eat different foods at home. Simultaneously, these classmates could enjoy the same movies and sports as them. Jiang believes this could help to bypass stereotyping.

When talking to older children, she recommends focusing on stereotyping, including the ones around intelligence and work ethic. She adds, "Provide accurate historical information is also important for older children so that they realize racism did not start with COVID-19, though COVID-19 certainly reignited the fear of those of Asian descent." Historic events, such as Japanese internment during World War II, can be a reminder for children of how Asians have been treated as outsiders in different periods in history.

Leisha Borja MA, LMFT, CCTP

Some are choosing to not stand with us because of the model minority myth. Help us dismantle this myth by pointing out how this continues to perpetuate racism, shifts responsibility from white America, and ask who really benefits from this.

— Leisha Borja MA, LMFT, CCTP

California-based psychotherapist Leisha Borja, MA, LMFT, CCTP adds that white families may be concerned about teaching children about how tough life can be, a luxury that parents of children of color do not have. Here are her tips for teaching non-Asian children tolerance.

  • Have those hard discussions about racism, starting with what’s been happening now. Asians are being treated differently because they are being blamed for the coronavirus. Explain the reasons that this is not okay.
  • Role-play with children ways to respond when they see racism happening.
  • Be curious about their thoughts, answer the questions they have, and know it’s okay to not have all the answers. 

Advice for Asian Families 

Los Angeles County internist Jen Tang, MD, explains she has made sure that her three sons are aware of what’s happening around them. She says, “This is just part of an ongoing conversation I have been having with my kids in recent years about the growing division in our country, with hateful words and acts against many different racial and religious minority groups."

Tang continues, "Regardless of whether racism is directed at us or others, our message as parents is the same: It is always wrong to judge or mistreat others simply because they do not conform to the majority in power.”

Tang did tell her boys about a shooting in Atlanta, where six out of eight victims were Asian women. The children’s response? “Just like when they hear of Black people being unjustly killed or Muslims or Jews being targeted, they ask me why. Sure, I’ve read the books and studied the history, but I’m left asking myself the same question.”

Xiaolu Jiang, PhD

Non-Asian parents of younger children can focus on similarities and differences between their children and Asian children and families.

— Xiaolu Jiang, PhD

Tang is able to take solace knowing that there are still good people and that the BIPOC community has come out to support Asians. She explains, “I’m teaching my kids to be a part of the solution. Speak up when you see someone being treated unfairly. Protect those who have less power than you do. And then one day if you happen to be the victim, hopefully, they will do the same for you.” 

How Adults Can Be Supportive 

Borja explains what it means to be an ally. She says, “Being an ally is to amplify our voices. Contact your local district attorneys and department of justices to make sure crimes are not written off as ‘He had a bad day,’ but that this is a hate crime and needs to be charged as so.

"I’ve heard that some are choosing to not stand with us because of the model minority myth. Help us dismantle this myth by pointing out how this continues to perpetuate racism and shifts responsibility from white America. Ask who really benefits from this.”

What This Means for You

Jiang explains that approaching the hatred towards Asians should not seem new. “This is not dissimilar to being an ally to Black people, Latinos, transgender people. When you see an injustice or someone making a racist statement, call it out.” 

Jiang also shares a training resource that may be helpful for others to know how to respond to xenophobia or racism from I Holla Back.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

3 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Discrimination in America.

  2. Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University-San Bernardino. Fact sheet: Anti-Asian prejudice March 2020.

  3. National Archives and Records Administration. Japanese-American internment during World War II.