Spectator Training Offered in Seattle, National AAPI Communities

by Kimmy Li

(This article originally appeared on the International Examiner and has been reprinted with permission.)


With the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes across the country and the one year anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings in March, some organizations are offering free bystander trainings and self-defense workshops for the Asian American community and Pacific Islander.

Anti-Asian hate crimes increased 164% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020 in 16 of the largest US cities and counties, according to new research from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino. A national report by Stop AAPI Hate also said the majority of these incidents occur in public, including on streets and businesses. About 62% of all anti-Asian hate incidents are reported by women.

In King County, the majority of these crimes took place in public places, including highways, alleys, streets and sidewalks, with 11 of a total of 29 crimes reported in 2020, according to data from the office of the King County Sheriff.

The threat of anti-Asian violence since the start of the pandemic is bringing the local Seattle community together to come up with community solutions to figure out how people can protect themselves and what steps to take as a bystander.

According to Dax Valdes, one of the lead trainers at Hollaback!, an organization that provides bystander intervention training across the United States.

To support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community during this time, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) and Hollaback! have teamed up to host a free online bystander intervention training on ways people can intervene to end aggression toward Asian Americans, including conflict de-escalation and how to respond to harassment.

“Bystander intervention is a proven methodology that we could say is as old as time, and it’s the idea of ​​people taking care of people when bad things happen,” Valdes said. “But so often when it comes to seeing these instances of harassment, we freeze up because maybe we don’t know what to do.”

While bystander training is often imagined as a way for privileged people to intervene with less privileged people, AAJC and Hollaback! hope this training will enable Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to speak up for each other.

“I want to recognize that many in our community may find themselves targeted in these situations, or fear that by stepping in they may become the target,” said Amy Fry, Anti-Hate Program Associate for ACCA. “People experience public spaces differently, and that’s because of privilege. In some spaces, your privilege gives you more power than others, and that means you might be able to help in ways that others can’t.

During the training, Valdes discussed the five Ds of bystander intervention — distracting, delegating, documenting, delaying and directing — strategies bystanders can use depending on the incident.

Distraction is taking an indirect approach to create a distraction to defuse a situation; the delegate asks someone else for help; document is to create any kind of documentation by taking a video of the incident on your phone; the delay is to check with the person who was harmed after the incident; and direct is to talk about the harassment if it’s safe to do so, according to Valdes.

Training sessions can prepare people with ideas and advice before they witness incidents of harassment online or in person. People who have faced hate crimes or hate incidents are encouraged to report their experiences on the Stand Against Hatred website, according to Valdes.

While bystander training is about what you can do for others, there are other trainings to protect yourself.

Mak Fai Kung Fu Dragon and Lion Dance Association is a club that offers traditional southern Chinese martial arts lessons as well as Choy Lee Fut (蔡李佛) lessons and specializes in professional lion and lion dance performances. dragon. Han Eckelberg, a student instructor at Mak Fai Kung Fu, conducts self-defense classes in the local Seattle community.

Eckelberg, who said there would be plans to hold a free workshop at the University of Washington this spring, said whenever he teaches self-defense workshops, he always reiterates three main principles: conditioning physical and mental, situational awareness and knowledge of our resources. .

“‘Listen to yourself first’ is the main priority,” Eckelberg said. “Making sure you feel safe to act is number one.”

Eckelberg said he hopes after the free two-hour workshop, people will be inspired to continue their self-defense training.

Mak Fai Kung Fu has partnered with several organizations in the past to run these workshops. The most recent workshop was held in February in conjunction with UW’s Cultivating a Culture of Care initiative, an event open to all students, staff, and community members.

“I appreciated that there were a lot of other Asian people in the workshop,” said Maeson Dewey, one of the workshop participants. “It’s good to see other Asian women being proactive and learning to protect themselves. It felt like a safe space.

In the self-defense class Dewey attended, participants learned how to protect themselves with punching drills and stances and practice situational awareness through activities with partners.

“Partner A would close their eyes and Partner B would walk around them, pat them and jump into a position,” Dewey said. “The idea was to put us in a weird environment and try to make sense of what’s happening to you.”

To find out when the next free workshop is, people can contact Mak Fai Kung Fu via Instagram or their website.

On the ACCA website, there are links to other resources, including some from the Asian American community on anti-blackness and links to local and national anti-hate community resources from the AAPI.

While this effort is focused on Asian Americans, these resources are available to everyone, and it’s important for people to protect each other and work for social justice for all marginalized groups, Fry said. .

“We all have an important role to play in dismantling racism, dismantling white supremacy and dismantling anti-darkness in our communities,” Fry said. “Together, we can help break the cycle of violence against black communities, against communities of color, against Asian American communities, and against marginalized communities.”


This article is published by the International Examiner and the South Seattle Emerald as part of a Seattle Department of Social Services grant, “Resilience Amidst Hate,” in response to anti-Asian violence.

📸 The featured image: A recent self-defense session at the University of Washington. (Photo courtesy of Nyima Gonzales via International Examiner)

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