Spectator Training Offered in Seattle, National AAPI Communities

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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 on the first anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings in March, some organizations are offering free bystander training and self-defense workshops for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

According to a new study by 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 King County Sheriff’s Office.

The threat of anti-Asian violence since the start of the pandemic brings the local Seattle community together to propose community-driven solutions to explain how people can protect themselves and what measures to take as a bystander.

According to Dax Valdes, one of the main trainers of Good morning !an organization that provides bystander intervention training across the United States

In order to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community during this time, Asian Americans Advance 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 spectator intervention – distracting, delegating, documenting, delaying and directing – strategies that 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. Individuals who have been victims of hate crimes or incidents are encouraged to report their experiences to Stand Up Against Hate websiteaccording to Valdes.

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

Dragon and Lion Dance Association Mak Fai Kung Fu is a club that offers traditional martial arts from southern China as well as Choy Lee Fut (蔡李佛) and specializes in professional lion and dragon dance performances. 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 Cultivate a culture of care initiativean event open to all students, employees and members of the community.

“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 Where their website.

On the CLIA website, there are links to other resources, including some of the Asian American Community on Anti-Blackness and links to local and national crowd-sourcing AAPI Anti-Hate Community Resources.

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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