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Stories | 03.11.21

Standing Up Against Violence Toward Asian Americans

Updated on 3.17.21

As a community of Adlerians, we stand up against violence and oppression in all forms. Recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans. On March 16, eight people were killed at three Atlanta-area spas, six of whom were women of Asian descent.

There has also been a rise in incidents of police brutality, including toward Asian Americans.

On December 23, 30-year-old Angelo Quinto had a mental health episode, which prompted his family to call the police in Antioch, California. He died in police custody after police used the knee-to-neck restraint that also killed George Floyd. His family and the community are calling for #JusticeforAngeloQuinto, who was born in the Philippians, and to stop violence toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. They are also asking for first responders who are trained to de-escalate mental health crises.

Chicago Campus art therapy student Elisha-Rio Apilado, who identifies as a Filipina American within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, wanted to share her thoughts and artwork in response to these recent events. She stresses the importance of raising mental health awareness and uniting as a community to disrupt hate and xenophobia:

“Still Invisible,” ink painting

The topic of social justice still has a stigma around it. And on top of that, mental health also is considered a ‘hush-hush’ topic within our community. It’s up to us to stay informed and help educate others on the intersections of the two.

When it comes to mental health crisis, unfortunately, our immediate reaction may be to call 9-1-1 as they’ve always been seen as the authoritative figure. And as you can see, with the police brutality on people of color, especially the Black community, we need to unlearn this reaction to call the police and better inform ourselves on other ways to call for help. We can reach out to other mental health crisis hotlines and even do the work in getting the psychoeducation on what a mental health crisis episode may look like.


“Never Good Enough,” mixed media

It’s a matter of continuously educating our community, especially the older generation, on the need for Black Lives Matter movements, why we should support it, and our acknowledgment of how colonization has affected the way we walk through this world, feeding into the “invisible minority” narrative.

While it is understood in our collectivistic culture that we avoid confrontations with others and maintain harmony, sometimes this value needs to be disrupted when it comes to preserving the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of the people in our community, regardless of the color of their skin.

Ways to Take Action

Apilado is a WAVES Chicago Chapter Member of the Asian Mental Health Collective. The nonprofit organization seeks to raise awareness about the importance of mental health care, promote emotional well-being, and challenge the stigma concerning mental illness among Asian communities worldwide.

The collective is one of the many organizations taking a stand against violence and shared these calls to action to advocate for justice, support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and promote mental health supports.

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