“The only way to survive is by taking care of one another.” -Grace Lee Boggs
Landed denounces acts of terror and violence, and we stand in solidarity with our Asian American community at this particularly scary and difficult time.
Building on the commitments to uphold Black lives made by our Asian and Latinx teammates last year, here are five ways our wider team commits to upholding Asian lives in light of recent events:
#1: Challenge the “model minority” myth
From the outside, Asian Americans have traditionally been seen as a monolith, in which all members of this “model minority” benefit equally from nuclear family structures, an emphasis on education, and other cultural factors.
In reality, different groups have very different experiences. There are 48 countries in Asia and a further 12 countries in Oceania, each with their own distinct traditions. Of these communities in the United States, nearly 20-30% of certain groups live in poverty, with highly variable income disparities based on self-reported ancestry or ethnicity. But the myth of a singular model minority blocks deeper relationships between Asian Americans and other people of color, who may feel that their destinies are better shared with other peoples.
To combat this phenomenon, Landed’s Co-Founder, Alex Lofton plans to deepen his perception of how this myth is perpetuated:
“I expect my exploration will unlock a much richer understanding of how I contribute to the problem of societal division, regardless of my intentions to be a part of the solutions. My new understanding will inform what kind of leader I choose to be, within my community, my workplace, and my chosen family.”
For others interested in actively challenging this myth, we recommend attending this upcoming webinar hosted by the TechEquity Collaborative.
#2: Foster empathy between communities
Asian cultures are highly distinct, so solidarity across Asian American populations cannot be assumed. Despite past sociopolitical efforts like the Asian American Movement of the 60s and 70s, often different histories, languages, religious traditions, and neighborhood boundaries stand in the way of closer understanding and/or cooperation.
Recently, several elderly Americans of East Asian descent have been attacked in the San Francisco Bay Area, including an 84-year-old Thai man who later died from injuries he sustained. This comes after former President Trump and others repeatedly used racist language to blame the COVID-19 pandemic — and its economic effects — on China. In light of these attacks, Landed’s Head of Marketing, Anjali Cameron believes that other Asian Americans should commiserate:
“I plan to talk to my parents, who both immigrated to the United States from India, about how they are feeling and thinking about recent events. It’s less common for people in their generation to identify with other groups of Asian Americans, but this moment calls for solidarity.”
Others agree with the need to share feelings. As Pauline Roa, who leads Partnership Success and Engagement for Landed, reminds us: “Try asking people, ‘How are you?’ or ‘How can I support you?’ — this is often the best way to help those who are hurting.”
#3: Know how to intervene effectively
Over the past year, hate crimes targeting Asians have risen by 150% across major U.S. cities, and are also on the rise worldwide. With this in mind, another form of allyship that anyone — regardless of race or ethnicity — can model is knowing how to intervene effectively when you observe anti-Asian or other xenophobic harassment.
Several of our teammates have signed up for this free, virtual bystander intervention training hosted by Hollaback! and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC). Hanna Curhan, one of Landed’s Homebuying Programs Leads, explains what learning these skills means to her:
“It’s so important that I equip myself with bystander intervention tactics so that I can actively interrupt anti-Asian violence in daily life. I don’t want to freeze in a moment where intervention is so crucial, so I’m encouraging my community to join me in learning the tactical, realistic, and compassionate tools offered by Hollaback! and AAJC.”
#4: Learn how to pronounce Asian names correctly
Many immigrants to the United States choose to anglicize or even change their names, but that does not mean it is fair to expect this action. For Asian Americans, this expectation can feel especially burdensome because of linguistic differences. Last year it was reported that a professor at Laney College in Oakland, CA asked a Vietnamese student to change her name, suggesting that it sounded in English like a sexual act.
Rather than ask immigrants to erase their heritage, we should all make an effort to learn and familiarize ourselves with Asian names. Landed’s Team Experience Lead, Annie Vasishta offers the following perspective:
"I have always been told I share names in stories too much of people others don't know. From an early age, I realized how important names are. I was given an 'American' first name despite being born in India, but the way my last name has been mispronounced has angered and silenced me. Names carry the stories of our ancestors and so much more, the least we can do is learn to get them right. They shape folks' identities and it deeply pained me to see news outlets not take the time to pronounce names correctly."
And if you do not feel comfortable asking someone how to pronounce their name, try looking it up on YouTube! You will probably find your answer there.
#5: Study our shared history
Asian American history is American history, as there has been migration from Asia and the Pacific Islands to North America as far back as the 16th century. Despite this long tradition, the markers of Asian presence in the United States are poorly understood.
Paula Davis, Landed’s Head of Relationship Management, reflects on her own experience:
“I’ve lived in Denver for nearly my whole life, but it was only last year, while on a long walk through downtown, that I learned that Denver once had a Chinatown. Near Coors Field, behind a bus stop, an inconspicuous plaque briefly describes the destruction of Chinatown in 1880, in Denver’s first recorded race riot. It started as a bar fight and resulted with a white mob destroying nearly every Chinese-American owned business downtown, inflicting countless injuries, and hanging one Chinese man, Look Young. The riot took place days before the 1880 election, and contributed to an increased focus by politicians on Chinese immigration. Two years later, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was passed.”
She sees overcoming this lack of understanding as something we all need to prioritize:
“It is our lifelong responsibility to continue learning and to focus that effort on learning how to live well together. We can learn to fill the gaps that our education system leaves, or that our own lack of effort creates. We can learn about the ways our laws and systems have favored some over others. And then we need to act, to correct.”
In this spirit, some great resources include the PBS series ‘Asian Americans’ and checking out this list of 15 books about Asian American history and experiences published in The Seattle Times.