News / Student Life

Bystander Intervention Will Stop Anti-Asian Harassment, Panelists Say

The best way to stop Anti-Asian hate is to intervene when you are a witness to it, explained Senior Trainer at Hollaback! Dr. Myra Jacob at a virtual training on Thursday. The event was designed to be an interactive experience to help teach bystanders how to safely de-escalate acts of violence while these hate crimes are on the rise.

The easiest way to help someone getting harassed according to Jacob is to remember “the five Ds”: distract, delegate, document, delay and be direct. “You can’t intervene if you don’t know what you’re looking for,” said Jacob, advising students to assess a situation and decide which of the five is appropriate and most comfortable. 

“The five D’s allow people to step up safely and de-escalate the situation,” said Jacob. “If you are too afraid to be direct, try an indirect form of intervention. Maybe ask for directions or drop your drink, any way to distract people,” she continued. 

Co-organizer Joy De Guzman, manager of community engagement at Asian Americans Advancing Justice shared an experience of waiting for a train on a subway platform when someone asked her what kind of Asian she was. She ignored him–“I didn’t want any trouble”–and moved to the other end of the car. He followed her off the train three blocks to her office. “Nobody intervened, nobody told him to stop,” she said.

Jacob said the witnesses were probably scared. “People normally don’t get involved out of fear,” she said. Only 25% of people said they received help when being harassed according to a study by Hollaback! Of those, 79% agreed it helped when someone got involved. 

Online harassment is also on the rise and Jacob encourages students to use similar methods when surfing the web. “Once a post is reported there is no record of it. It’s very important to have records of harassment,” she said, telling students to always screenshot and send the post to the victim so that they have a record and know that there are others looking out for them. 

Jacob knows that acknowledging the trauma of others is a big step in ending anti-Asian hate. In doing so, she called for a moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives in the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings and the Indianapolis FedEx shooting

Following the moment of silence, De Guzman used her platform to also speak about the Black Lives Matter movement and how bothered she is that she has often seen people trying to pin the Stop Asian Hate movement against it.

“The same safety that we want for Asian American communities, we have to demand for our Black communities,” De Guzman said.


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