Not enough people know, but over a month ago, a 91-year-old Asian American man was violently attacked directly outside our Coaching Corps office in Oakland. On Tuesday, eight people were murdered in Atlanta, six of them Asian American women. My heart aches for all the families who lost their loved ones by senseless violent hate crimes. And my thoughts are consumed by the young people now grappling with how to make sense of these racial assaults.
There is an explosion of anti-Asian sentiment in our country with nearly 3,800 anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate incidents reported since March 2020, according to Stop AAPI Hate. It is widely believed that the problem is even greater, with the exact number of incidents largely under covered. Whatever the statistics show, the fear, torment, worry and anger in the AAPI community is palpable.
Many times during my childhood, men, women, and kids would suddenly, viciously tell me to “go back where I came from”, call me terrible, racist names, and even menacingly follow me to my car. Feelings of fear, confusion, and humiliation were recurring emotions, but with no guidance or tools on how to cope with racial discrimination, I kept my head down and steered clear of signs of trouble. The anxiety of attracting unwanted attention made me retreat into myself. It became hard to speak to non-Asian adults, never knowing who to trust. “Too shy” is what showed up on my report cards.
Looking back, I realize I would have benefitted from the wisdom of a teacher or coach who had lived through similar experiences with racism and discrimination in America. But where I grew up, there were not many mentors who looked like me and understood what I experienced.
I often wonder if life would have been a little bit easier if I had someone to guide me through what I was going through.
In the summer of 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign interviewed AAPI young adults about their experiences and feelings related to racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. They found 73% were angry and frustrated, 60% had feelings of disappointment, 46% expressed sadness or depression, 25% were concerned for their family, and 23% were scared. Over 80% reported being bullied or harassed at schools, in parks or online.
Emerging from pandemic-related shutdowns, there are reasons to be hopeful. Children are returning to school, afterschool activities are resuming, and youth sports are re-opening. But for many AAPI kids, the world waiting looks more challenging. They will need caring adults to help them navigate the post-pandemic world and their very real feelings of fear, mistrust, and anger.
Ultimately, what they need is a coach.
Executive Vice President