Let’s Talk About Xenophobia and Anti-Asian Hate Crimes
Xenophobia, the “fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners,”1 is an unfamiliar term for some. While xenophobia is similar to racism, racism is prejudiced thoughts and discriminatory actions based on differences in race or ethnicity.2 A person can be both racist and xenophobic. Xenophobia affects both foreign-born and U.S.-born individuals. The negative impact of xenophobia is felt whenever someone is told to “go back to your country,” or experiences the hateful rhetoric used to describe SARS-COV-2, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, and linked to the historic rise in reported hate crimes against Asian Americans since March 2020.3
Committing to being anti-racist also means acknowledging and challenging xenophobia and serving as an ally to our Asian and Asian American peers. Nearly three in ten Asian Americans report experiencing racial slurs or jokes since the start of the pandemic,4 over 6,600 incidents of hate crime (including physical attacks on Asian elders) have been reported nationwide, and six women were murdered at three Asian-owned spas in Georgia in March 2021.5
Serve as an ally by:
• Intervening as an Upstander when you witness instances of prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, including reporting hate crimes and harassment to local authorities or national organizations, such as Stop AAPI Hate.
• Continuing to educate yourself and others by reviewing posts of the DCEG Inclusivity Minute and terminology used to navigate discussions of race.
• Engaging with dialogue among peers in the DCEG Anti-racist & Inclusivity Working Group (to join contact Rotana Alsaggaf or Sara Schonfeld).
If you or your colleagues are experiencing xenophobia- or racism-related stress:
- Prioritize your physical and mental health. Reach out to support at NIH or seek counsel through the NIH Equity and Resolution Team.
- Trainees may find support in connecting with community affinity groups and Office of Intramural Training & Educations (OITE) resources.
- Mentors and supervisors can equip themselves with the OITE toolkit for supporting themselves and trainees. Consider extending grace for deadlines and supporting use of leave.