What Can I Do?

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Be part of the solution

  • Take care of yourself! Reduce your own stress by making certain that you’re getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy diet.
  • Stop and breathe, and ask yourself: are you really angry at someone, or are you angry or upset about the situation in general?
  • Be curious! Xenophobia often happens when someone doesn’t have much exposure to people who are different from themselves. Try traveling to a new place, or even just an area of your hometown that you’ve never spent a lot of time in before.
  • Talk to people who come from different places, or even who just have a different approach to things. Try learning about other cultures or communities from people who are part of them, rather than second-hand stories and rumors.
  • Study history. The more familiar you are with the history of immigration in the United States, the easier it is to see when certain scripts about the dangers of immigration are just being recycled.

What do I do if I see someone getting harassed or threatened?

  • Don’t encourage. Sometimes, people make rude jokes or sly comments because they think the people around them will think it’s funny. Make it clear that you aren’t laughing.
  • Be a witness. Make eye contact with the person being harassed. Ask if they want help, or offer them a distraction by letting them focus on you rather than their harasser.
  • Recruit help from people around you, or from someone in authority.
  • Record what’s happening (but get permission from the victim before you post!).
  • Intervene! You can even be direct by telling people that what they’re doing is not okay. Try not escalate the situation, but make sure to show that you’re standing with the victim.
  • Educate. Sometimes, people don’t even realize that certain words or phrases can be harmful. If that seems to be the case, try drawing their attention to how language can hurt people. For example, you can explain that we don’t name viruses after locations anymore because it often led to discrimination and harassment.
    • Be careful! Sometimes this can backfire. No one likes being lectured!

What if I’m the one being harassed?

  • You don’t have to put up with it. We often avoid dealing with such people because we don’t want to make the situation worse. But if left unchallenged, such behavior can escalate.
  • Stay calm. Easy to say, hard to do – but harassment is intended to hurt and upset the victim. Don’t give them that power. Take a deep breath, and focus on what you can control about the situation.
  • Be confident in yourself. You do belong here. Remember that harassment says far more about the person doing the harassing than about the person they’re targeting.
  • Recruit help. Bystanders often don’t act because they expect someone else to do something. If you feel like you need help, make eye contact with an individual and ask them specifically for help.
  • Record and report. Even if there may not be anything authorities can do about a particular incident after the fact, establishing a paper trail may help prevent future incidents, or at least ensure that people are aware there’s a problem, both locally and in terms of ensuring accurate statistics.

Be Safe!

Angry people often are looking for reasons to lash out. Standing up for yourself is important, but so is safety. Visit the Crisis Prevention Institute’s website for their Top 10 De-Escalation Tips.


Find more information about how to protect yourself and others and where to report incidents at Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate.


Under stress, we fall back on familiar patterns of behavior. Practice in your mind what you would want to do in that situation, so that if you ever face it, you have the tools you need to respond correctly.

Watch this short film about disarming racism from a psychological perspective.

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