Confronting racism and xenophobia

“Let’s Talk: Confronting Racism & Xenophobia in the Asian Community during COVID-19” empowers the Asian community, raises awareness of ASSI.


A screenshot of the Asian Student Support Initiative website.

Hailey Griffin, Arts Editor

Amy Kue, Caitlyn Lee, and The Hmong Allies and Affinity Group worked together to make the idea of the discussion panel, “Let’s Talk: Confronting Racism & Xenophobia in the Asian Community during COVID-19,” a reality.

“I’ve been feeling like there’s been a lot going on since the pandemic that has created a lot of backlash towards the Asian community in regard to the coronavirus, and with being called specific names by the president, you know, being called the ‘Chinese Virus’…so that’s one part of it, ” said Kue, International Programs Coordinator at Madison College.

“The other part was recognizing the most recent Black Lives Matter movement and how the involvement of a Hmong officer in the killing of George Floyd has really created a lot of turmoil and tension within the Hmong community, but also between the Hmong community and the Black community.”

Kue hopes that in the future, there will be a discussion focused more on anti-blackness and the dynamic between the communities. The most recent panel touched briefly on these topics; however, the focus was mainly on the experiences of those in the Asian community who have dealt with racism and xenophobia.

Kue moderated the “Let’s Talk: Confronting Racism & Xenophobia in the Asian Community during COVID-19.” First, she established some ground rules. Then, she asked panelists, including Lee, to share times when they have been confronted with anti-Asian or racist experiences.

Panelists talked about how these experiences affected them and their identity. They also talked about how they felt about Asian stereotypes, how they felt about the model minority myth, and how COVID-19 and labels like “the Chinese Virus” have affected them and the rest of the Asian American community. At the end of the discussion, panelists talked about the ways that they could be further supported on campus.

Before the panel discussion arose, several students had expressed the need for discussions that address these types of concerns.

“A lot of individuals in my initiative have expressed that they feel like they don’t really have a voice as an Asian American or they, because of, like, this modern minority myth, they feel like their experiences aren’t validated,” said Lee, founder of the Asian Student Support Initiative (ASSI).

“They feel like they can’t express any concerns or complaints when it comes to issues that affect Asian Americans. So, they definitely feel like a safe space for Asian Americans and Asian International students is needed.”

Lee hopes that through ASSI and further panel discussions with Kue, she can continue to provide a safe space for those in the Asian community.

“I’m just really excited to have a lot of different experience shared in our discussion forum, and yeah, I definitely feel, like, going back to what I said, there’s a lot of Asian Americans who don’t really have a safe space to share their experiences in,” said Lee.

“Not only is this to provide a safe space for Asian Americans. I also hope…we can really motivate and kind of empower and kind of really push for our Asian American youth to be more proactive in their community, and advocating for their own issues, too.”

Lee wants to continue these types of conversations, both through monthly discussion forums and through participation in groups like ASSI.

“I do hope that a lot more Asian students can join us, but also I hope that more than that they know that they know there’s this resource that they can use if they ever experience any hate crimes or hate incidences…I hope they know that it’s like, they deserve to have these resources, and they deserve a lot more than what the Madison College campus has provided them,” said Lee.

“We absolutely do want to say that all Asian Americans, regardless if you’re not a college student anymore, if you’re in high school, middle school, or from any background, you’re more than welcome to join us.”

To stay updated about further panel discussions, visit ASSI’s website: