Have you seen Joanne Molinaro’s powerful video? In less than a minute, she commands us to action for “our [mothers] and [fathers], our grandmothers and [grandfathers], they need us to brandish our English words like swords to defend them in a way that they can’t, in a way that only [we] can.”
So here I am. Although my own parents and grandparents have long passed, I remain committed to speaking up for them and all of our families.
Why we need to talk to Asian elders about racism and violent crimes
During the pandemic, hate speech and crimes against Asians have increased drastically. Xenophobic attacks on the elderly have been especially distressing.
With permission from psychologist Dr. Jenny Wang (@asiansformentalhealth), I am sharing her advice on how to talk to Asian elders about racism and violence. She is active on Instagram but does not have a blog or Facebook, and I want to amplify her expert advice.
As with most difficult topics, the general steps of approach are to:
- Encourage questions and get a sense of baseline knowledge of the problem
- Gently provide clear and concrete information.
- Validate the response and any accompanying emotions.
- Brainstorm a practical plan to prevent or treat the problem
Big thanks to @michellinman for the Chinese translations; @jessie.min for the Korean translations; and @korean4mykids for proofreading my Korean transcriptions. Since I’m learning Chinese with my kids and my in-laws are Korean, I’m grateful for these conversation starters.
At the end of the post, you can download the discussion points in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, and Korean translations. I have formatted these in a printer-friendly, black-and-white format to share with your friends, families, and community.
How to talk to Asian elders about racism and crimes in English, Chinese, and Korean
The following conversation prompts are listed in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Hanyu Pinyin, and Korean.
Step 1: Ask questions. Assess what they know.
- Have you heard about what is happening to Asian Americans recently?
- Nín shì fǒu tīng shuō guò zuì jìn fā shēng zài yà yì měi guó rén shēn shàng de shì jiàn?
- 요즘 미국에 살고 있는 동양인을 상대로 일어나는 범죄에 대해 들어보셨나요?
- Have you heard about who the most common targets have been?
- Nín shì fǒu tīng shuō guò tōng cháng de shòu hài zhě shì shéi?
- 누가 주로 피해자인지 들어보셨나요?
- Did you hear about where they have been occurring?
- Nín shì fǒu tīng shuō guò zhè xiē shì jiàn tōng cháng dōu fā shēng zài nǎ lǐ?
- 어디에서 이런 범죄가 일어나고 있는지 들어보셨나요?
Step 2: Provide specific, concrete information.
- There have been several physical attacks on Asians in different cities like Oakland, CA all the way to NYC.
- Jìn qī zài niǔ yuē shì, jiā zhōu ào kè lán shì děng bù tóng chéng shì, yǒu yà yì rén bèi duō cì bào lì gōng jī.
- 오클랜드에서부터 뉴욕까시 많은 곳에서 동양인을 상대로 신체적인 폭력이 일어나고 있어요.
- It seems elders have been especially targeted in these attacks.
- Zài zhè xiē gōngjī shì jiàn zhōng, sì hū lǎo nián shòu hài zhě zhàn duō shù.
- 자주 이런 폭력의 피해자는 노인들이에요 .
- We are not exactly sure why they have been the focus of attacks. Some have been motivated by racism. Some may have been for financial gain.
- 我们不确定为什么老年人一直是被攻击的对象。 有些攻击是出于种族歧视。 有些可能是为了钱财。
- 我們不確定為什麼老年人一直是被攻擊的對象。 有些攻擊是出於種族歧視。 有些可能是為了錢財。
- Wǒ men bú què dìng wèi shén me lǎo nián rén yī zhí shì bèi gōng jī de duì xiàng. yǒu xiē gōng jī shì chū yú zhǒng zú qí shì. yǒu xiē kě néng shì wèi le qián cái.
- 왜 동양인 노인들을 노리는지는 확실치 않아요. 인종차별이라는 사람들도 있고, 돈을 훔치기 위해서라는 사람들도 있어요.
Step 3: Process and normalize the emotion elicited.
- How does knowing this information make you feel?
- Liǎo jiě zhè xiē xìn xī, nín yǒu shén me gǎn xiǎng ma?
- 이런 소식을 들으면 어떤 감정을 느끼시나요 ?
- Do you have any worries, fears or concerns?
- Nín yǒu rèn hé dān xīn, kǒng jù huò jiāo lǜ ma?
- 걱정되고, 불안하고, 두려워지세요?
- Would you feel comfortable sharing some of these concerns with me?
- Nín yuàn yì yǔ wǒ fēn xiǎng zhè xiē gǎn xiǎng ma?
- 괜찮으시다면, 저와 이렇게 느껴지는 불안감에 대해 얘기해 보실래요?
Step 4: Develop an action plan in response to information and emotion elicited.
- Let’s develop a plan together to keep you safe.
- Ràng wǒ men yī qǐ zhì dìng yī gè jì huà, yǐ què bǎo nín de ān quán.
- 우리가 안전하도록 함께 계획을 세워요.
- Here are some specific actions:
- Yǐ xià shì yī xiē jù tǐ cuò shī:
- 바로 할 수 있는 구체적인 행동:
- Leave the home with someone
- Jié bàn chū mén
- 집 밖에 나갈 때 누군가와 동행하세요.
- Bring self protection tools (eg, whistle, pepper spray, etc.)
- Xié dài fáng shēn gōng jù (lì rú kǒu shào, hú jiāo pēn wù děng)
- 자기방어를 할수 있는 기제를 지참해요. (호루라기, 페퍼스프레이 등)
- Coordinate repeated errands such as grocery store/pharmacy runs
- Ān pái hǎo cháng zuò de rèn wù, bǐ rú mǎi cài huò qǔ yào
- 반복적인 볼 일은 (시장, 약국) 한 번에 하도록 하세요.
- Contact local organizations for practical support
- Liánxì dāngdì zǔzhī yǐ xúnqiú bāngzhù
- 살고 계신 곳의 단체에 실용적인 지윈을 요청하세요.
Free printable translations for how to talk to Asian elders about racism and crimes in English, Chinese, and Korean
Click on the links before for your desired language version:
- English, Simplified Chinese, and Pinyin
- English, Traditional Chinese, Zhuyin, and Pinyin
- English and Korean
How to talk to Asian elders about racism and crimes in other languages
@asiansformentalhealth has other languages translated on her Instagram account:
- Cantonese (video)
- Taishanese (video)
- Teochew (video)
Other crime prevention tips for elders
Age Safe America recommends the following additional precautions:
- Carry minimal items in a pocket inside your jacket
- Avoid purses and shoulder bags
- 12% of crimes against seniors involve purse snatching
- Use direct deposit to avoid going to the bank. “Many criminals know exactly when government checks arrive each month, and may pick that day to attack.”
How to talk to kids about racism
If you’re looking for tips on how to discuss race and racism with your children, please review the following detailed guides:
- How to Talk to Kids About Racism Today | Inclusive, Bilingual Resources
- Bullying Prevention Resources for Multilingual and Multicultural Kids
Have you talked to your family about racism and crimes against Asians in English, Chinese, Korean, or another language?
I am thinking of you all and hope you all stay safe. Please feel free to share your experience and any other suggestions in the comments below. I’ll try to help to the best of my ability.