Experiencing Racism as an Asian American

Segregation, Prejudice, Bigotry, Injustice
Curated By
Keiko McCullough

Keiko McCullough is a doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington studying Counseling Psychology. Keiko graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in 2015. Her research interests, broadly, focus on the intersections of race, gender, and new media. She additionally studies men of color and masculinities, Asian American mental health, positive psychology, and feminist issues.

They Might Be Thinking:

  • Am I just imagining things? How come no one steps in and says anything? 
  • If I try to speak up, people will just talk over me. 
  • Nobody understands Asian American issues. 
  • I am tired of having to educate everyone around me. 
  • It’s exhausting having to explain to people that I am American over and over again. 
  • Asian Americans are always left out of conversations about race. 
  • I work very hard, and sometimes it feels like no one notices. 
  • There is not enough Asian American representation in media. 
  • I know I don’t have an accent, but people seem to think so. 
  • I am tired of everyone commenting on my hair and eyes. 
  • People wouldn’t think I am a good leader. 
  • I feel disempowered.

Words That Might Be Encouraging:

  • What you’re describing sounds very difficult. I am sorry this happened to you. 
  • Wow, I never have to deal with things like that. How can I better support you?
  • I wish people saw the things that I see in you (e.g., your courage, strength, kindness, etc.).
  • Dealing with these things every day must be so tiring. You are so resilient. 
  • We came to this topic, but if you aren’t comfortable sharing this with me, I respect your boundaries and we can discuss something else. 
  • I am listening and I care about your experience.
  • I can see how much this is affecting you. What would be best for you right now?
  • Even though things are different for me because I am not Asian American, I believe every word you’re telling me. 
  • You have such great awareness to know that what you’re going through is connected to being Asian American.
  • I could never know what it is like to be Asian American, and I am very willing to hear what it’s like for you, if you feel comfortable with that. 

Words That Might Be Discouraging:

  • But it’s easier to be Asian American, right?
  • You must be very smart, I am sure you will be okay. 
  • Well there’s nothing you can do; everyone can tell you’re Asian American. 
  • Maybe if you went back to your home country, it’d be easier. 
  • Are you sure there wasn’t just a miscommunication?
  • What you’re saying sounds a little far-fetched. 
  • Asian Americans aren’t discriminated against. 
  • They probably didn’t even realize you’re Asian. 
  • But you don’t even act very Asian.
See Personalized Encouragement Recommendations for Someone You Care About
Personalize: Name & Relationship (sign-in/up to complete personal profile information to improve encouragement recommendations)
Select relationship type
Was this guide helpful?
Your rating will help us improve this encouragement guide.