The shootings at three Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday that left eight people dead, including six Asian women, have put a renewed spotlight on the increase of anti-Asian violence across the country.
Nearly 3,800 hate incidents were reported against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide over the last year, and women were 2.3 times more likely to report an incident, according to a report released Tuesday by the group Stop AAPI Hate.
Members of the AAPI community have been speaking out to highlight the issue and ask for support from the larger community amid the rise in hate incidents, which include verbal slurs to physical attacks, and hate crimes, which law enforcement classifies as one motivated by race.
The increase has also been fueled by the pandemic, which began in China, by rhetoric like referring to the coronavirus as the "China virus" or "Chinese virus."
"I think the thing that we need everyone to know is that the pandemic was weaponized against Asian Americans," actor Olivia Munn said on the 3rd hour of TODAY Thursday. "And we have a target on our back and for some reason right now, it feels like it's open season on us. And we need help, and we need people to care about what's happening to us."
For those who are looking to support the AAPI community and combat anti-Asian racism, there are a number of resources.
Support your AAPI neighbors and learn how to stop or report anti-Asian violence
The Stop AAPI Hate report found that more than 30% of the incidents reported took place on either a public street or a public park, so if you see something, you can report it to groups like Stop AAPI Hate.
The group also has safety tips for those witnessing or experiencing a hate incident, such as seeking immediate support from bystanders and actively listening to the person who has been targeted and asking before taking any actions.
The group Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC also has a one-hour virtual training that teaches the five strategies for intervention — distract, delegate, document, delay, and direct — and how to prioritize your own safety while intervening.
Another resource is The Center for Asian Pacific American Women, which offers professional development programs for Asian women, who have been disproportionately targeted in acts of anti-Asian violence. The report by Stop AAPI hate found that two out of three incidents that were reported involved Asian women.
Speak out and check in
Munn and NBC investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen have shared on TODAY this week how important it can be just for people to stand in solidarity against anti-Asian violence on social media while also bringing more attention to the issue.
"People who are posting on social media right now, it does help us," Munn said. "It does make us feel like we are being seen, especially because in the Asian community, we often feel like we are unseen and our pain is invisible."
Munn, Mindy Kaling, Daniel Dae Kim, LeBron James and a host of other celebrities have spoken out against the violence to their large social media followings this week by using the hashtag #StopAsianHate.
"If you have a platform, use it," Kim told Nguyen on TODAY Thursday. "Because right now, you know, we as Asian Americans have to get out of our own echo chamber. We cannot be preaching to one another because we already know the tune, we already know the sermon."
Experts also recommend checking in on AAPI neighbors and friends to let them know they have your support and to acknowledge anti-Asian racism. Simply spending some time with them or sending food could be a simple way of showing support without burdening them with questions about what you can do for them.
Munn said she has had numerous friends reach out to her recently as well as people she has not had contact with in a while.
"And so the fact that people are saying, 'Hey, we see what's happening to you and it's not OK,’ it really does make a difference," she said.
Donate if you can
Groups like StopAAPIHate and The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association help provide resources to the AAPI community.
The group Send Chinatown Love helps support restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic and may have been rejected by government aid.
For those specifically in the area of where this week's shooting occurred, the Atlanta chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice is accepting donations to help the victims and their families. You can also sign a statement supporting the AAPI community.
The AAPI community has faced a painful history of racism that dates back to the 19th century, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that prevented Chinese workers from entering the country.
Projects such as the podcast "Self Evident: Asian America’s Stories," PBS's five-part documentary series "Asian Americans" and the YouTube documentary series #AsianAmCovidStories go in-depth on everything from the history of Asians in America to their recent experiences during the pandemic.
Also, the U.S. Department of Justice outlines what makes a hate crime compared to a bias incident.
"Asians have had a harder time proving racism in a large part because, in general, people still don’t know the history and struggles of Asian Americans," Stewart Kwoh, president emeritus of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, told NBC News. “That’s the overwhelming problem we have to confront as a society.”