We believe in a world that is free from prejudice and where everyone has the right to be proud of who they are. Unfortunately, this is a pretty tough ask. We’ve joined forces with the team at ASOS to bring you a hub of resources all about the Stop Asian Movement, a movement that is all about putting an end to the rising tide of racism against east and south east asian people. 

What is the movement? 

Since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world, there has been a sharp and worrying rise in the number of racist attacks and hate crimes against asian and south east asian (ESEA) people. These have been verbal attacks, physical and even things like the tragic shooting of eight asian-american spa technicians in the Atlanta, Georgia, in the US

Because the pandemic was attributed to a market in the Chinese province in China, something that was made worse in the media by comments from President Trump calling it “the china virus”, ESEA people all over the world have found that their lives have been turned upside down. In the wake of the tragic deaths in the US and several studies revealing the real increase of racism against this minority, the Stop Asian Hate movement started a conversation about what is going on. You can find out all about it on this hub, and get resources and support to help you if you are dealing with the impacts of racism.  

Visit our #StopAsianHate hub by clicking the link below

Why is it important? 

Working towards a world where no racism exists is always important, and will always be something we all need to strive towards. The thing is, a lot of conversations around racism fail to distinguish between the multiple groups of people who are affected, and the issues faced by ESEA people will be completely different to other people of colour. 

With the growth of attacks and hate crimes still on the rise, we want to give all you guys the tools to be able understand why this is necessary, and how to talk to people in your life about race. 

You can check out a couple of videos on the Stop Asian Hate movement below:

Trigger warning – these videos contain distressing scenes of racial violence and verbal assault.

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

The #StopAsianHate movement is spreading across the globe after a huge surge in physical attacks against Asian people connected to the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, these racist attacks have been reported in many different countries, and in the USA especially, older, more vulnerable people are being targeted.

When the victim is targeted because they belong to a certain group – for example, due to their skin colour, their sexuality or their religion – this is what we call a hate crime.

We know that racism is a learned behaviour, right? So where exactly is this behaviour learned from when it comes to #StopAsianHate?

A big part of where these racist beliefs come from is to do with prejudices in the media that we take in – this is everything from the news we read, to the social media platforms we browse, to the films and TV we watch, to the advertising we see.


Trigger warning – this article contains images of racist comments

What’s the news saying?

Take a look at these images from a selection of UK news sites. Can you see what they have in common?

Yup, that’s right. They all show pictures of Asian people, or, in the third example, an Asian supermarket.

These images may seem harmless on the surface. But it’s like that old saying – ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Look closely at these pictures. What do you think they are saying?

If you constantly see pictures of Asians wearing masks, and then you read about coronavirus rules in the same article, it is possible that you may subconsciously – without realising – start to associate Asians with viruses.

People who are constantly exposed to this kind of messaging are more likely to stereotype Asians, make jokes about them, or, sadly, use it as an excuse to hurt them or threaten them. The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging and life-changing for everyone around the world – but some people are looking to place the blame on Chinese people, or, unfortunately, anyone they think looks Chinese.

It’s important to recognise at this point that the common understanding of the word ‘Asian’ is different in the US and UK. In the US, people usually associate the word with people of East Asian or South East Asian heritage – like China, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and so on.

However, in the UK, ‘Asian’ is more closely associated with South Asians, or people whose heritage comes from places like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and so on. All these places are in Asia, and all Asians can experience racism, but when we’re talking about COVID racism, someone with South Asian heritage is much less likely to be mistaken as Chinese! So, we can specify by using this acronym: ESEA. This stands for ‘East and South East Asian’.

ESEA people in the US and UK are a minority. We don’t see them in movies and TV as much as white people. So how come the representation that we do see is really negative?

What are politicians saying?

How it started:

How it’s going:

If the (then) President of the USA can say it, then it must be okay, right?

We have seen many important figures setting bad examples that encourage people to justify racist behaviour.

Even when they aren’t doing it on purpose, it still happens. Look at the stills from this video posted on Twitter by the British government to encourage people to socially distance. You might notice that all the people shown are people of colour…

And now let’s look at some of the comments that were left on the video…

It’s never okay to talk about people like this.

Here’s another example that the British government posted on Facebook to advise people about COVID recovery:

These are two examples that show how the verbal and physical abuse of ESEA people in real life is reflected in how people behave online. 

What’s the TV and film industry saying?

Common stereotypes 

TV and movies are filled with stereotypes about Asian people. Let’s take a look at some examples and what they mean.

Submissive ‘lotus flowers’ or ‘China dolls’Lily Onakuramara in PITCH PERFECTAsian women are seen as quiet and submissive, and vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, but ultimately ‘weird’ and alien, making it easier to dehumanise them.
Sex workers/overly sexualised young women and girlsMEAN GIRLS: Trang Pak is the underage leader of the ‘Cool Asian’ group, who is found to be assaulted by Coach Carr, although the interaction is depicted as a comedic relationship.Asian women constantly equated with sex fantasies and fetish, the extreme dangers of which we have seen with the victims of the Atlanta shooting.
Dragon ladiesO-Ren Ishii in KILL BILL: VOL. 1Asian women are deceitful, domineering, cold and lacking in emotion.
Martial arts masters/wise old menMister Miyagi in THE KARATE KIDThe ‘mystical Asian’ character trope often displays aspects of ESEA culture in an exaggerated and exoticised way. For example, they are usually seen meditating and speak only with ‘Confucian’- style lines of wisdom. They serve to prop up the main – usually white – character, as if they only have one purpose.
Rich businessmenBLING EMPIREContributes to the ‘model minority myth’ while also leading people to believe that Asians are usually rich. This totally erases the experiences of Asians from poorer backgrounds.
Maths/science/band geekDong in UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, AP Lawrence from SCHOOL OF ROCKContributes to the ‘model minority myth’ of Asian men being hardworking, non-threatening and academically gifted. This is damaging to Asians (their issues and needs are often overlooked) and other ethnic minorities (who, by default, are assumed to be the opposite – lazy, threatening, unintelligent).
Tiger momMrs Kim in GILMORE GIRLSAsian mothers are strict and loveless, pushing their children to the point their emotional wellbeing is damaged.

Then, we have the idea of whitewashing in film, which is when roles that were originally written for people of colour are cast as white actors.

Here are some examples:

  • Scarlett Johansson – Ghost in the Shell
  • Aloha – Emma Stone
  • Tilda Swinton – Dr. Strange
  • Justin Chatwin – Dragonball Evolution

What’s social media saying?

Have you heard of the fox eye trend? The fox eye trend is a pose that involves pulling back the skin around your cheekbones and eyes:

The ‘fox eye’ make-up style has been popularised by celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner.

What might non-Asians think when they look at this? 

‘Cute pose.’

But when an Asian person, specifically someone with ESEA heritage, looks at this, they’re probably going to feel very triggered. Why? 

Because so many ESEA kids are bullied at school – and some adults too – by people pulling back the skin around their eyes to make fun of the way they look.

What’s the effect?

Add all this together with other classic lines Asians are tired of hearing and what do we have?

Increased hate crimes that, sadly, have led to the creation of the #StopAsianHate movement.

For people of ESEA heritage, even if they aren’t a victim of an attack, they might experience:

  • Poor mental health throughout their lifetime
  • Bullying at school
  • Feeling like they can’t seek help
  • Fear of leaving the house
  • Constant state of anxiety and alertness.

How can you help?

The biggest step is educating yourself around anti-Asian and specifically anti=ESEA hate and learning how to spot it in your everyday life. Learning to speak up – especially when the behaviour is coming from people you love, like your friends or family – is really hard. But allyship is a lifelong effort, so we’re all bound to make mistakes. But the good thing about making mistakes? You learn from them. You can also check out our article on how to call out anti-Asian hate here, and, if you missed it, this page on how to talk to your parents about racism.

Sources for news site images used:

  • https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-53766280
  • https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/53393885
  • https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/poor-leicester-treated-cautionary-tale-enjoy-independence-day/
  • https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/who-can-cant-made-redundant-22369754

Mai-Anh Peterson is a co-founder of besea.n. besea.n is a non-profit, grassroots organisation founded by six East and South East Asian (ESEA) women, whose mission is to tackle negative stereotypes and to promote positive media representation of ESEA people in the UK.

Their work includes anti-racism campaigning, providing resources, holding organisations accountable, working with other social justice groups, spotlighting prominent ESEA voices and establishing a supportive community to validate experiences. You can learn more here: https://www.besean.co.uk/

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

Are you wondering why people are racist? The general consensus is that a racist isn’t born, a racist person is made from the world around them. Whether racist attitudes are taught and passed down from older family members or subtly programmed by the world around them.

This article explores the latter of the two and will take you on a journey to hopefully gaining a better understanding of yourself and your own thoughts, but also equip you with tools to help you critically challenge some of the harmful messaging that exists all around you.

A quick brain science lesson

In this article, we’ll be talking about ‘Unconscious Bias’, but before we get onto that, I want to give you a brief lesson on exactly how our brains work.

Think of your brain like a computer – it stores and processes information and helps you form almost-instantaneous judgements of the world around you. Unlike a computer, your brain receives thousands of messages a second and so it needs to quickly decide on what to do with all of those messages and often will form shortcuts in order to be as efficient as possible. Some of the messages come internally from your body, and others from the world around you – sights, smells, atmosphere, language, sounds, attraction, disgust; just to name a few.

How the brain creates stereotypes

Like a computer, our brain must decide on where to store information: temporary memory, short-term memory, long-term memory or trash. Generally, information that triggers an emotive response will be stored in short, or long-term memory. Information that isn’t important to us our survival will either be temporarily stored or thrown straight in the trash. This means that the brain is constantly making unconscious decisions on how to process information based on how important it considers it to be. 

You likely won’t remember the face of somebody you walked past yesterday, unless there was something distinctive about them. This is because it wouldn’t be a good use of the brains’ processing power to store that memory, so it throws it out. However, that time you almost got ran over, or had your first kiss, you’ll likely remember that forever because it’s been stored in your long-term memory.

So why am I telling you this? It’s because it’s valuable to have a general overview of how the brain processes and stores information and makes snap judgements on your behalf, in order to understand how judgements of other people are formed.

So… what is ‘unconscious bias’?

Unconscious bias is based on the principle that our brains receive constant streams of information about other people, and over time, shortcuts are made and the brain starts to construct a positive or negative bias towards individuals or groups of people, based on the messages it has received. 

As a child, I was bitten by a dog and very quickly developed a phobia of dogs. My brain had processed that trauma and taught me that dogs are dangerous and that I should avoid them in order to stay safe. Obviously now, as an adult, I know that most dogs are pretty chill and don’t generally go around biting people, but for a long time, I had developed an irrational fear and a negative unconscious bias around dogs.

What has this got to do with racism?

This same principle applies to people, and more importantly, groups of people. See, we’re constantly receiving messages about people that, over time, does create a bias. Messages come from so many different sources; whether it’s the news we read, social media, music videos, the stories we hear, advertisements or even the movies we watch. They all have a role to play in perpetuating stereotypes. This can be problematic because our brains short wire and in an effort to keep us safe and save a bit of processing power, they can lead us to make some pretty wild assumptions about groups of people, based on a perception that has been gradually built over a long period of time.

So what about ‘Asian Hate’?

This is the foundation for all forms of stereotypes. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or any other form of prejudice. In the context of Asian hate, it is of course a derivative of racism, which we know is a huge issue plaguing the world around us. However, Asian hate also has the added complexities of a negative unconscious bias that has been developed in response to the pandemic.

The messaging we have received has often portrayed a negative view of Asia and many Asian communities and has built a belief system that this dangerous virus originated from China and therefore Chinese, and other Asian people are the source of a global pandemic and are ultimately a threat to safety. There has been some pretty harmful rhetoric published by the media, and even our world leaders on the origins and responsibility of the COVID-19 pandemic and inevitably, these perceptions and often explicitly racist opinions then filter down into the comment sections and posts on social media, further amplifying the racist signals and irrational fear of Asian communities. 

How do I train my unconscious bias and unlearn negative stereotypes?

We all have unconscious bias. Nobody is exempt and unfortunately, you can’t get rid of it, but you can train your unconscious bias in order to make it kinder and more open minded. Here are 10 ways to train your unconscious bias.

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

Since 2020, Asian-hate fuelled racism has increased by 300% and so it has never been more important to listen to, and amplify Asian voices, stories and experiences.

We’ve pulled together a list of our most favourite Asian creators; each contributing to the global conversation surrounding Asian hate and sharing their own advice, stories or advocacy. Please feel free to tag your favourite Asian creators in the comment section below 💕

1) Kim Saira

(She/her) Our ultimate recommendation for an injection of social justice content onto your timeline. Kim regularly shares content to educate, inspire and empower her audience to take a stand against multiple forms of injustice.

2) Stop AAPI Hate

(Organisation) Stop AAPI Hate are a coalition of activists using their platform to amplify Asian experiences but to primarily educate and equip people with tools that they need to drive change in their communities.

3) Mia Kang 

(She/her) Ditch the Label Ambassador, model, activist, Muay Thai fighter and all-round badass, Mia’s feed is packed with amplified content to help educate and inspire real change. Mia also shares her own personal experiences with mental health and disordered eating.

4) Michelle Elman

(She/her) Life coach, author and queen of setting healthier boundaries, Michelle regularly discusses Asian-based stereotypes on her feed, along with a wide range of different issues; such as relationships, body image and self love.

5) Chella Man

(They/them) Artist, author and director; Chella Man is guaranteed to inject some empowerment onto your timeline. Chella Man regularly talks about their experience of being Asian, deaf, trans and genderqueer.

6) Annie Wu

(She/her) Feeling like your timeline needs a little ‘f*ck yea?’, in that case you need an injection of Annie who is truly using her platform to stand for, and talk about the stuff that really matters. Whether that’s racism, feminism or wider activism.

7) Schuyler Bailar

(He/him) Schuyler was the first ever trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete and uses his platform to talk about a wide range of issues; from racism and identity to gender stereotypes and activism. His feed also documents his experience as a trans man.

8) Anti-Racism Daily

(Organisation) Whilst not exclusively posting Asian-creator content, this timeline is filled with vital information, education and toolkits for taking a stand against all forms of racism. They also regularly talk about US policy and issues affecting wider society. An absolute must to keep yourself informed and engaged.

9) Jason Leung

(He/him) Photographer Jason Leung has been actively documenting #StopAsianHate protests and making his photography freely available online to anybody seeking emotive and impactful imagery.

10) David Yi

(He/they) Author and beauty creator, David Yi uses his platform to shine a critical lens on gender norms, beauty ideals and stereotypes. Amongst his beauty tutorials and fun content lies a deeper narrative around racism and gender.

Whether you’re looking to learn more, get support or find the tools that you need to become an anti-Asian hate activist, we’ve got you covered. Check out our #StopAsianHate hub for more.

If you’re an Asian person, chances are you’ve probably heard these 10 things and many other stereotypes about your community before.

As a life coach, author and queen of setting healthier boundaries, Michelle Elman regularly discusses Asian-based stereotypes on her feed, along with a wide range of different issues; such as relationships, body image and self love.

“Where are you actually from?”

For a few years now, I have refused to answer this question. I say London on purpose and no matter how many times you ask, I will continue to say London. People will often persist with “but where are your parents from?” or “No, I mean ethnically”.

“Yellow Fever”

Yellow fever is a term that is often used within dating to refer to anyone who has dated or is dating Asian women. I learnt this term when I had my first boyfriend. His friends continually told him that he has “yellow fever”. It is not only offensive to refer to Asian people as yellow but also it feeds into the fetishisation and over-sexualisation of Asian women that already exists. The idea that a man has to have “yellow fever” in order to find an Asian woman attractive is also offensive.

“You don’t have Asian eyes” or any joke

Unsurprisingly, not every single Asian has the same eyes. We don’t all have monolids and having a double eyelid doesn’t make us any less Asians. Similarly, jokes about slanty eyes or pulling your eyes is racist and needs to be acknowledged as such.

“Do you eat dogs?” or now “Why do you eat bats?”

Since being a creator online in the pandemic, the number of bat emojis that are commented in my comment section or comments about the food we eat. Every culture has different delicacies, no I have never eaten dog but I have eaten jellyfish and I love chicken feet. Respect the differences in other people’s food and culture.

All Asians look the same

The range and complexities in appearance when it comes to Asians has been completely ignored and dismissed as a result of such a narrow portrayal of what it looks like to be Asian in western media. Often when we think of an Asian appearance, we assume Chinese and as a result we ignore South Asian cultures and the fact that many Asians are dark skinned and have different facial features.

Asians are so skinny

This stereotype is not only inaccurate but harmful to plus size Asian people because it creates an additional pressure to look a certain way, on top of the pressure of the beauty ideal and diet culture that already exists for everyone else.

What’s your real name?

When someone tells you their name, respect that. Sometimes people don’t have an “Asian name” and sometimes they are so bored of having their “Asian name” butchered that they have used a western one for their own ease and comfort. I myself do not use my Chinese name. My reasons for not doing that largely stem from insecurities around my pronunciation of my own name but that is my choice.

Your English is really good

This comment has been a consistent annoyance throughout my whole life. There was a moment in school when I said something in the past tense that should have been in the present when a friend started laughing at me. The teacher interjected saying “Don’t make fun of Michelle, English isn’t her first language.” I said it was. She then proceeded to try to fix it by saying to my friend “Well you can’t speak two languages”, at which point I said “Nor can I”. English is my one and only language.

You look like Lucy Liu, Mulan or insert only Asian actor you can name

The lack of Asian representation in the media is never more noticeable than when this comment comes up in conversation. I look nothing like Lucy Liu, I definitely don’t look like Jackie Chan and Mulan is a fictional cartoon character. The fact you think I look similar to Lucy Liu is the same as anyone saying that every redhead looks like Rupert Grint. In my childhood, it was only Lucy Liu, but as the representation has grown marginally, the comment hasn’t improved. I don’t look like Sandra Oh either, she’s Korean and I’m Chinese. The only vague similarity is our black hair, that’s it.

You are really cool for an Asian You aren’t like other Asian

I once had a friend introduce me to her friendship group with the phrase “This is Michelle, she’s Chinese but she’s cool”. This perpetuates the idea that all Asians are nerdy and geeky. This is a stereotype that has been perpetuated in the media and movies and it removes the ability for Asians to be treated as individuals. It is not a compliment to be told, we aren’t like others because in trying to compliment us, you are insulting other members of our race and inherently saying that being Asian is a bad thing to be, yet we are the exception to that rule.

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

When my friend asked me about whether I have had any experience of racism when I was in the UK as a student or anywhere, I didn’t know where to start.

I grew up in the Philippines, and in the Philippines (which is a previous colony of Spain and the United States), life is relatively easier if you have lighter skin. This is because of how the Spaniards ingrained into the locals that lighter colored skin meant a more affluent or educated background, since the person may be of Spanish descent.

This was a norm in my country and in my head at the time, this was racism but it was okay as it was ‘normal’ and that’s just the way things are.

What I had not realised was that as I grew into my teens while travelling and studying abroad, racism was actually very subtly accepted everywhere else too. It was only when I had lived in a foreign country long enough that I experienced what it really meant to be discriminated upon based on my facial features and skin color. It was only then that it started to make me feel afraid, then that I realised that allowing racism to continue was wrong, and that any form of it could lead to it affecting my own well being and self-worth.

I had a relatively happy childhood and when I was 17, I left for a gap year in France to study in a small French town. It was a great experience, one that taught me so much about good people and making lifelong friends no matter your background or race. I became best friends with a Latvian, Australian a Mexican and an American. I never really thought about how I looked different to them, as while they were all Caucasian, we had become very close friends.

This all changed when I started university in the UK, became more confident about exploring the country on my own and began dating using online dating apps. I had recently come out as a gay man and thought it may be a good idea and try the dating scene.

My very first real experience with racism was when someone told me, “you’re cute, but I’m not into Asians” as I sent them a message. I had not even been able to say where I was from, but immediately the conversation ended there. I had never considered how I look as an Asian to be a detriment to attraction because I personally never had any problems with seeing attraction based on race. If someone is attractive, they just are to me.

I thought of this as a fluke and continued showing my interest to anyone I found attractive. Surely people could not be that stuck up? It was only when it happened repeatedly, and again in real life that I realized that it was making me go for people who were less and less attractive to me. I was lowering my standards just to avoid more rejection.

I would probably get racist comments 20 percent of the time, from white people, from black people, even from Asians. At a certain point I said to myself, okay, I must be less attractive because I’m Asian, so let’s just go for less attractive people so I don’t get rejected this way any more. The funny thing is, I know I’m an attractive guy, but the comments constantly cut my confidence down.

In one of the instances I decided to instead make friends with one of these “I’m not into Asians “guys. In the end he ended up wanting to be with me because he said, “you’re much more attractive in person and not very Asian at all in personality”.

But my experiences didn’t just end in the dating scene, what a lot of people don’t realize is that they may not be racist, but they end up doing racist things when they aren’t mindful of how their actions may make someone feel, no matter how funny or casual it may be.

These are just some stories of how racism proliferates in the gay world. A world that is already so hard to be accepted in because of the pressures of social media to have the perfect face or body.

One evening as I was lining up in a bar with my friends 2 years into my university degree, two girls behind us tapped me in the shoulder and then shouted “Gangnam” style. At the time, this was a hit Korean song in the UK, and the two girls right after started dancing the dance moves in front of us, mumbling broken Chinese sounding syllables. Everyone around laughed. I smiled, and just clapped my hands pretending to be funny about it, but inside I felt awkward and a bit humiliated. I shrugged it off and did not let it affect my evening.

One of the worst experiences I had was when I was in a bar, and a drunk guy, the same age as I have nudged me as he was passing and gave me a bad look. I had never seen this person in my life, so I did not mind him. I am not the kind of person that looks for fights, but a few minutes later, the same person pulled me by my shirt and pinned me to the wall saying, “we don’t want any Chinese in our country, are you from China!?”

Again, I smiled and said in perfect English, no I am not, but if you talk to my friends, they will tell you perfectly well that you are out of line. Luckily, I was with two other guy friends who immediately pulled him off me. Nothing happened out of the situation and he apologized after, but after this instance, I am now weary of someone attacking me every time I enter a bar in any “white” country.

On another incident, I was having a heated argument with someone because of a traffic problem, and when that person realized I did not have an English accent, he shouted at me saying, “you’re not even English, no wonder you don’t know how to drive”. He then said, “they shouldn’t let people like you in this country”. At this point, my English friend in the car came out and stood up for me as he knew I was in the right. When the man realized I was with an English person, he got back into his car and left. 

These encounters continued to happen, several times a year, in every part of my life, be it dating, or on the road. I thought to myself, maybe this is continuing to happen because most people are okay with it. I mean, I was kind of okay with it too… I had never really pushed back, and always politely smiled because I felt I was lucky to be in a western “white” country, and if I cause any trouble, I might get kicked out. 

This thought I feel is where the problem stems from. The reality that it is always very difficult for a person from a developing country to be given a visa to work in the UK or any first world country. This makes all minorities feel like we are obliged to stay silent, that we are obliged to let these injustices happen because we are already living in your country as a ‘favor’ to us. 

There are so many intricacies as to why racism still exists, and it would be far too long for me to discuss every opinion I have on it here. These are just my own thoughts and experiences that I have had to grow and learn from, and it is only now that I am in my thirties that I am starting to feel good and ‘secure’ in how I look, who I am and where I come from.

– Written by anonymous

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

We want to believe that we live in a society where the colour of someone’s skin does not mean they are treated differently.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case and within our Annual Bullying Survey 2019 we learnt that one in ten people believed that they were bullied because of attitudes towards their race. 

We know that people of colour are disproportionately disadvantaged in society with oppression in the workplace and institutions such as schools and with authorities.

This may be out of our hands, but what we can control is the language that we use and create a more inclusive space around us for everyone.

Trigger warning – this article contains racist comments and micro-aggressions

Obviously, some racism is intentional and in your face. But there is another thing that people of colour are just plain fed up with: micro-aggressions.

Micro-aggressions are subtle, regular, subconscious discriminations made towards marginalised groups that may not seem like a big deal on their own but together they are a recipe for causing offence. They can be pretty rubbish to hear all the time because it basically means that, despite it being 2021, a lot of stereotypes are still alive and kicking. 

Here are some of the top culprits for micro-aggressions you may not even realise you are saying:

1) “Where are you actually from?”

Just because someone looks different to you, doesn’t mean they are not from the same place as you. Humans have travelled to every corner of the world over thousands of years and developed millions of different styles. Everyone is different so you should embrace it.

2) “So when did you move here?”

Assuming someone wasn’t born in the country just because of the colour of their skin or shape of their eyes is not a good look. In the UK we are a cultural melting pot and you can still be British and be lots of different races.

3) “Wow! Your English is just so good”

This person could be a native speaker, they could speak 4 languages, you never know. 

4) “It’s weird, I’ve never really seen anyone like you.”

THIS. Is something a lot of people are fed up of hearing. There is no right or wrong way and you saying that you don’t see someone’s race makes them feel erased.

5) “What kind of food do your people eat?”

Sigh…we all love different kinds of foods.

7) “Hey, can you tell us what your perspective is on this issue?”

It is not the responsibility of people to speak for their entire race and educate you. We are all separate people with unique thoughts and feelings.

8) “Wow, you really sound different than when you are on the phone”

What were you expecting? The common rhetoric that people of one particular race all sound a certain way or use ebonics is so reductive. The way you talk is usually influenced by your family or your social group or where you grew up.

9) “So is your dad black and your mum asian?”

So many people jump to thinking that mixed-race people all follow this formula in their genetic make-up. There are so many different variations of mixed race out there and assuming there is only one makes us all feel a bit crappy.

10) “That’s a weird name, its hard to pronounce is it okay if I call you Jim?”

A name is only weird to you because it’s not what you are used to. Learn someone’s name, learn how to say it, it will mean a lot to them and never just rename them to something you can pronounce! 

Recognise any of these? 

Don’t worry if you were guilty of making one of these mistakes. A lot of us are. Remember lots of different micro-aggressions built up over time can become mega-aggressions. So have a look at our tips to help de-programme your unconscious bias and try to communicate with empathy. Finally just remember the number 1 rule – don’t be a dick! 

Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

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