LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

LSU Health New Orleans Takes Steps to Stop AAPI Hate

StopAAPIHate Hashtag

“I have had people driving by me or walking down the street yell racial slurs at me – ch***, g***, "take back your coronavirus", etc.,” reports one resident. “In the hospital, I have had patients refuse treatment from me because of my race. I have witnessed my Asian American colleagues being yelled at with various racial slurs. Additionally, many Asian American medical students around the country have described incidences of being verbally and physically harassed by people in the clinical setting and outside of it.”

That from a Chinese American who was born and grew up in New Orleans.

An LSU Health faculty member, also an American of Chinese heritage, recalls, “I have been told many times by area citizens that they are surprised I speak English with no accent. ‘Wow, your English is pretty good!’ Random people ask, ‘where are you from?’ When they hear, ‘I am from the US and lived in New Orleans most of my life,’ they get annoyed. ‘No, you're not American, where are you REALLY from?’”

This faculty member will never forget an experience that happened at the beginning of the pandemic. “One faculty member who is no longer at our institution told one of the Chinese residents I was training that he would give us the ‘Kung Flu’. The former faculty member who said it cracked up laughing. That was my first time hearing that term, and we didn't know how to react.”

The bias was evident. “This same former faculty member also complained to me about some ‘Chinese’ students in her class who did not speak English, so she had to enunciate slowly and loudly for them to ‘understand’. When she told me who the students were, I told her that they were actually American-born Korean Americans who speak perfect English. They were intimidated by this former faculty member and were uncomfortable speaking in front of class since she kept yelling at them.”

Racism and acting out anti-AAPI sentiment are not limited to adults. A day-long high school field trip to the Health Sciences Center had to be ended after only an hour when the high school students who were being taught by a medical student volunteer of Chinese heritage kept interrupting, making gibberish “Chinese” noises. This in the presence of chaperones who were laughing along with the high school students. Because LSU Health New Orleans does not tolerate that kind of behavior, they were asked to leave. The principal was told they would not be invited back without an apology. One has yet to come.

Members of the AAPI community here have been horrified at the violence occurring nationally and quite concerned.

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altar honoring Atlanta victims
Says one, “I would have been worried about my dad, who passed away two years ago. My children are multiracial. I don’t want them to be targets of this hatred because of their mixed heritage and just appearing Asian. I worry that this behavior will exacerbate and become the norm.”

“I fear that my family will be attacked,” says another. “I fear that people will stop caring and stop acting. Unfortunately, I know that Anti-Asian hate crimes will continue to happen.”

Anti-Asian xenophobia, manifested by microaggressions, verbal abuse and violence, has risen sharply over the past year. According to the Stop AAPI Hate data, incidents increased from 3,795 to 6,603. Verbal harassment and shunning are followed by physical assaults. A large percentage of incidents take place on public streets and parks, as well as in businesses. Chinese individuals have reported more hate incidents (43.7%) than other race or ethnic groups, followed by Koreans (16.6%), Filipinx (8.8%) and Vietnamese (8.3%).

The situation spurred Congress to take action. President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law on May 20, 2021. His remarks at the signing included, “We heard how too many Asian Americans have been waking up each morning this past year genuinely — genuinely — fearing for their safety just opening the door and walking down the street, and safety for their loved ones. The moms and dads who, when they let their kids out the door to go to school, were worried.

“Attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed during this pandemic. Living in fear for their lives. Grandparents afraid to leave their homes, even to get vaccinated, for fear of being attacked. Small business owners targeted and gunned down. Students worried about two things: COVID-19 and being bullied. Gut-wrenching attacks on some of the most vulnerable people in our nation — the elderly, low-wage workers, women — brutally attacked.
elderly Asian woman
“For centuries, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders — diverse and vibrant communities — have helped build this nation only to be often stepped over, forgotten, or ignored. You know, lived here for generations, but still considered, by some, the 'other' — the 'other.' It’s wrong. It’s simply — to use the phrase — it’s simply un-American.”

“My message to all of those of you who are hurting is: We see you. And the Congress has said: We see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias.”

LSU Health New Orleans, too, sees AAPI members of its community and is committed to stopping the hatred and bias.
Brave Space vitural event slide
To kick off its efforts, Dr. Timothy Fair, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion, hosted a virtual event -- A Brave Space to Be. “It was my hope to show our Asian American and Pacific Islander faculty, residents, students and staff that we see them, hear them, and are here to support them. I also wanted to affirm the innate value, dignity, and worth of all members of our community and to provide a program that increased our collective sense of belonging.”
The event, a collaboration between the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Campus Assistance Program (CAP), was a safe and affirming virtual environment to have the difficult conversation concerning the rise in anti-Asian violence and bias.

Dr. Fair adds, “It was a space where we could collectively grapple with the fear, isolation, and hopelessness that may be related to these recent events and to acknowledge their impact on members of our community. We provided a platform to share stories and promote discourse and healing while also providing resources and strategies that will help members of the LSU Health New Orleans community to process these events. Finally, we wanted to inspire members of our community to commit to increased advocacy for historically underrepresented groups.”

It was a positive step in the right direction, according to one participant. “I appreciated him hosting an event specifically to address the violence against AAPI individuals. I don’t remember anything like this before, and I have been here since 2003. It was time to address this problem and demonstrate that LSU Health New Orleans supports our AAPI colleagues.”
Dr. Fair is already hard at work developing the next step.

“With the full knowledge that bias and discrimination adversely impact the learning, teaching, and working experiences, we are creating an institutional bias reporting tool that will allow any member of our community who has witnessed or experienced a bias-related incident to report it. Additionally, a centralized reporting method will enable us to take targeted, strategic and collaborative steps to improving our community.”

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He adds, “In addition to a reporting tool, we are also launching an institutional learning strategy for all members of our community that will provide our constituents with a universal language for foundational diversity and inclusion principles, and training focused on identifying and mitigating unconscious bias.”

In the meantime, members of the LSU Health New Orleans AAPI community offer some helpful advice and resources.

* Don’t assume someone who looks different is not American (or an illegal immigrant).

* If you see something, report it.

* Learn how to intervene as a bystander:
but understand that you can intervene as a bystander for things outside of Anti-Asian hate.

* Learn how to report an Anti-Asian hate crime:

* Educate yourself about Asian American history and contributions.
After all, concludes Dr. Fair, “When one member of our community hurts, we are all impacted.”