Written by: Katherine Lou, Psy.D., on behalf of the PLTC DE&I Committee
The PLTC DE&I Committee unequivocally condemns the increasing hate and violence directed toward Asian-American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) nationwide. The March 16 shooting in the Atlanta area which killed eight individuals, six of whom were AAPI women, is the latest incident to exacerbate the fear and pain the community has experienced from the uptick of violence and xenophobia since the start of the pandemic. We mourn the victims of this crime, and extend our support to the AAPI older adults who were attacked, and in one case killed, over the past three months.
As members of PLTC, we find the attacks on these older adults particularly abhorrent because they reflect an intentional targeting of the most revered and vulnerable members of the AAPI community. According to data gathered by Stop AAPI Hate, there have been nearly 3,800 reported incidents of discrimination directed toward AAPI individuals in the U.S. since March 2020. Thus far, over 7% of the incidents reported are from individuals age 60 or older. This is likely an underreported percentage due to language barriers and distrust of law enforcement among older AAPI adults, particularly those who are immigrants.
The findings also showed that individuals who reported these incidents experienced them as traumatic, now perceive their country as much more dangerous, and view anti-Asian discrimination as a primary source of stress. In order to promote healing and create a sense of safety within long-term care and other settings, we encourage PLTC members to continue to embrace difficult conversations with your older adult clients, particularly individuals of color, who may face past or current race-based traumas.
As a committee working to build a diverse, inclusive, and empathically-minded community of professionals, we urge individuals from all backgrounds to strive for unity instead of division. With the backdrop of the trial in Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd last summer underway, now more than ever, it is vital that we engage together in the fight against racism, rather than demonize or scapegoat other communities of color.
Finally, we invite our members to be “called in” to continue to speak up in solidarity with vulnerable communities targeted by discrimination and hate, and to foster meaningful dialogue about the dismantling of embedded systems of oppression, racial justice, and restoration in the places where you practice, teach, mentor, advocate, and conduct research. Toward this end, included below is a resource to help increase understanding about the long history of anti-AAPI racism in the U.S.; please feel free to use and share widely. The support allies show toward marginalized individuals can be incredibly powerful, validating, and healing, and counters the self-gaslighting that can occur among individuals when they do not hear active and vocal support within their wider communities.