GREEN BAY, Wis (NBC 26) -- For much of the pandemic the YWCA of Greater Green Bay has held a monthly webinar to discuss racism in our community.
"This country says they are the melting pot. We don't represent that. We say it, but we don't represent that," says Suzanne Wittman the Director of the Women's Empowerment Center.
Wittman sees fewer opportunities for people of color, not enough folks embracing our differences, and perhaps most disturbingly an increased level of fear within portions of her race.
"We don't feel completely safe. Which is very unfortunate."
She says during the pandemic many Asian Americans have experienced an increase in discrimination.
"A lot of Asians are born here, they're Americans. And we shouldn't be treated like outsiders."
One way in which advocates try to combat this trend is to talk about the problem. Wittman's coworker, Andrea Huyggenvik says correcting others when they are inappropriate, cruel, or blatantly racist is something we should be doing with others.
"Call out your friends and family who may be saying things that are really misguided and misdirected."
Huyggenvik says she's heard countless stories of racist remarks directed at Asian Americans from others in her community.
"We were hearing stories from people who said I was at the park with my kid and somebody called me a name. Or I was at the grocery store and somebody told me to go back to China."
Huyggenvik says acknowledging our communities' differences is one of the first steps a people can take in understanding someone. But she and others know a community has to make the effort for change to occur.
"I hear from community members all the time, that people are not willing to recognize that their experience is really different and that it feels alienating and isolating when that happens," says
"I think we'd be pleasantly surprised that we have a lot more in common than we do different," adds Wittman.
Coming up on April 21st, the YWCA of Greater Green Bay will be having their monthly, Stand Up Against Racism Webinar. At this webinar, they will be talking about the Native American Experience with COVID-19 and some of the greatest impacts on their community. Check out this link to find out more about the upcoming event and to watch former, Stand Up Against Racism webinars.
Regardless of the alleged motivation behind the Atlanta-area spa shootings, Asian Americans everywhere are experiencing a range of emotions.
“Since last night, it's just been nonstop texting from friends to make sure we're okay. And yeah, it's hard. You know, the women are vulnerable workers, they are immigrant women having to go to work to feed their families,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation.
Yoo spoke to us about how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been on the community. Hate incidents against Asian Americans have increased and are really just starting to come to light. They are also thought to be drastically under-reported.
“We are suffering from the perpetual myth, foreigner myth. Everybody thinks Asian Americans are doing well, through, you know, the model minority myth, and that is certainly not the case,” said Yoo.
“Realizing that the ripple effects are going to be significant, it’s going to make members of our community just that more fearful, that more mistrusting, that less safe,” said Doris F. Chang, PhD, a psychologist and associated professor at New York University.
Chang, along with a colleague, conducted a survey that found 40% of Asian Americans reported experiencing at least one of several acts, like being coughed or spit on, verbally or even physically attacked.
Chang encourages people to break through cultural norms and report these incidents, and for everyone to talk about what's happening.
“To not be hearing more widespread condemnation and support of Asian Americans, that feels really upsetting and deeply disturbing,” said Chang.
“It’s a shared burden. You can't put the burden of, you know, finding a solution on the victims,” said Yoo.
Asian American leaders and activists will testify Thursday before a House panel on the rise in discrimination and violence.
The Asian American Federation is organizing in-person peace vigils possibly as early as Friday.