Surviving Racism Amidst Covid-19

Yin J. Li
3 min readMar 26, 2020


In addition to all the anxieties and fears surrounding Coronavirus, Asians, Asian Americans, Asian Canadians, Asian Australians, British Asians, South American Asians are also experiencing the anxieties and fears of physical assault, verbal abuse, and microaggression.

From children to the elderly, there have been many and growing reports of verbal harassment and physical assault (punches, kicks, stabbings).

It’s a scary time to be Asian whether you are living in New York City, London or Sydney.

You might be experiencing:

· Heightened anxiety. Being on edge and worried about what will happen, what would people (not just strangers but friends, co-workers, in-laws) say and do.

· Shame. Wishing you weren’t Asian, wishing you could just blend in, or finding yourself acting more “white” or being extra nice and cheerful.

· Anger and/or helplessness

· Denial and/or dissociation. It’s not a big deal. I am not even Chinese.

· Retreating inwards and further self-isolating for protection

Know that all the above are “normal” responses to racial trauma.

What can you do?

· Try not to be alone outside. Go on walks or store with family and friends. When you are out, be aware and vigilant of your surroundings.

· If provoked or attacked either online or in person, try your best to take a moment and decide how you want to engage. Your physical safety and emotional sanity are the most important.

· Join or create an online community of like minded folks for support. See below for some events in the upcoming week (this was written on 3/25/20).

· Process feelings and experiences with trusted friends, family and / or therapist. Ideally, someone who understands and empathize with your experience specially as it relates to racism and discrimination.

· Do what brings you unabashed joy and pleasure. Cooking, movement, dance, art, sex, chatting with loved ones, hanging out with your dog, gardening…

· If you have the energy and capacity, find purpose. Donate, organize, activate.

· Racism and discrimination chip away at our inherent sense of worth.

Consciously and purposefully try to restore your sense of wholeness, goodness, and pride.

2 suggestion on how:

1) Take deep breaths and repeat affirmations such as “I am whole. I am good.” Let the words and intention sink in to every part and cell of your body. Try it slowly, intentionally, and with much gentleness and love.

2) Find what brings you pride in your ancestry and identities. Hold on to it.


  1. Reporting hate crime and harassment:

· Report to local authorities and police. This might be controversial but it’s important for the crime to be documented.

· Report to non-profit organizations doing advocacy work with policy makers. We need the data. Three organizations collecting the information below:

Stop AAPI Hate

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council

2. Community organizations holding online meetings, events, meditation in the upcoming week.

· Thursday, March 26th 4pm PST. Asian American Writer’s Workshop is hosting a virtual poetry reading.

· Thursday, March 26th 730pm PST. East Bay Meditation Center POC Sangha is hosting a virtual sangha.

· Saturday, March 28th 11am PST. Model Majority Podcast is hosting a virtual town hall meeting for all those affected by COVID-19 related racism. Registration link here.

· Saturday, March 28th 3pm PST. The People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation presents a Townhall on Anti-Asian Racism. Registration link here.

3. Additional reading and listening

The New York Times Article: How to respond to microaggressions

The Racial Healing Handbook

Asians Do Therapy Podcast Episode 2: How to Lessen Anxiety Amidst Covid-19

Asians Do Therapy Podcast Episode 3: Healing from Racism



Yin J. Li

Psychotherapist. Normalizing therapy in Asian communities. Third culture kid. Traveler. A lover of flowers and introspection. @AsiansDoTherapy @taacp_org