How to be an Ally and Support the Asian Community

Picture of By Sofia Neumayer Toimil

By Sofia Neumayer Toimil

While taking the time this week to learn more about Asian culture, history, and the horrific attacks occurring, it is important for those of us who are not directly affected to take a step back and reflect. Although there is no way for people that are not in the Asian community to understand or relate to the struggles they face, it is essential to be critical of our actions. We must ask ourselves whether we are ignoring the issue since we are privileged enough for it not to affect us or are taking steps to inform ourselves and help where possible. If you are wondering how you can take action to make a difference, this article can show you a variety of ways in which you can get informed and support the Asian community.

Support Local Asian Businesses

Firstly, you can start with your own area and support local Asian businesses. We have compiled a list of locations in Amsterdam for you, that you should definitely check out! 

  • Go to your local Toko! They have more than you might think and it’s a great place to try out a new recipe or grab a pretty soup bowl. 
  • Toko Dun Yong – family-owned Niewmarkt supermarket opened in 1959 with five floors and a small restaurant 
  • Jackie Cha – plastic-free boba bar in De Wallen serving homemade tapioca balls with a range of tea flavours. 
  • Tucked away in a side street by Zeedijk, Wah Kiu Asian store sells old-school knick-knacks and adorable figurines.
  • Hoi Tin is a traditional dim sum restaurant that opened in 1975. Since the restaurant is closed due to COVID, swing by for one of their delicious and low-cost takeaway pastries! You can find them on Zeedijk. 
  • ShillaA Japanese & Korean supermarket in Amstelveen that’s giving away a free Kimchi ramen with every order right now! Go go go! 
  • Onigiri-Ya!Is there a more perfect snack than Onigiri? Find these little triangles of joy in De Pijp. 
  • Pika Pika Japan – From household gadgets to skincare, you can get all your essentials online or in Amstelveen. 
  • Kelly Printing and CopyWith libraries closed it can be hard to find a place to print your work or copy your documents – Check out this ever-friendly print shop in Zeedijk next time you’re in the Binnenstad. 
  • Pansy Shop – “Cute things for nice people”. An illustration and ceramic studio selling the most adorable homeware. Put a smile on your face by making an appointment at Czaar Peterstraat 104! 
  • De Patchka – Good kimchi in Amsterdam can be hard to come by, fret no more, this vegan Korean eatery has you covered. Take a bite on the Albert Cuypstraat.  

Follow Asian Activists Online

You should also try to stay up to date with Asian activists online, who post regular updates, infographics and resources for you to learn about the Asian community and the #StopAsianHate movement. Below we have featured some inspiring activists on Instagram that you should definitely check out and follow.

  • @seeyouisoe – Dutch Asian queer artist and activist. Her work can be seen on murals and posters around Amsterdam 
  • @edacyu – Asian writer and storyteller. Founder of mass fundraiser Protect our Elders
  • @Petewu – Hugely successful journalist and author of DeBananengeneratie Wu is a Pride Amsterdam ambassador and leading voice for Asians in the Netherlands.  
  • @stopasianhateamsterdam – Organisation that holds protests and documents racial abuse in the Netherlands 
  • @weektegenracism (week against racism) – An intersectional week-long demonstration that takes place every year
  • @goldthread – Mini documentary platform producing fascinating deep dives into all things east-Asian 
  • @thenextgenerasian – Empowering and insightful infographics on the Asian experience 
  • @aznactivists – Student-led infographic page focussing on Asian youth globally 
  • @dearasianyouth – intersectional activist page with a large following 
  • @asianfashionarchive – beautiful page spotlighting Asian fashion and culture through history 
  • – American born Chinese activist Emma speaks out on intersectional racism and police violence on this page 
  • @non_native_native – Netherlands based, Asian art  and design collective showcasing art from the Asian diaspora in Europe 
  • @cinemasia – annual cinema festival in Amsterdam showcasing the best of new Asian cinema 

Educate Yourself

We are also sharing some resources to educate yourself on a variety of topics, ranging from Asian culture and history to personal experience and pop culture. These resources, in the form of podcasts, books, or films, should serve to teach you about the Asian community and their experiences.

Listen to Podcasts:

  • Check out Podcast Potluck, a collective of podcasts featuring Asian American voices and stories. The website has access to many different podcasts ranging from ‘Saturday School’, a podcast about Asian American pop culture history, to ‘They Call Us Bruce’, a podcast that presents an unfiltered conversation about current news in Asian America.
  • Self Evident Asian America’s Stories, a podcast presenting personal stories and community conversations about identity, cultural change, and nationhood. 
  • Asian-Americans Talk About Racism, and We Listen – ‘Still Processing’ Podcast – New York Times. This is a 2-part episode from the ‘Still Processing’ podcast in which various Asian-American colleagues of the podcast hosts speak about childhood traumas, politicization, pop culture and hierarchies of oppression relating to Asian-American identity. 
  • Asian Enough by the Los Angeles Times is a podcast about being Asian American in which the diaspora across cultures and backgrounds is analysed to expand how the term ‘Asian American’ is defined. Hosts Jen Yamato and Frank Shyong invite celebrity guests to share their personal stories and unpack identity on their own terms. 
  • Brown Town by our very own UvA students Justin Yeung, Erandi De Silva, Mohini Rastogi and Yalda Aieni. They explore the political, social and cultural aspects of South Asia with a little bit of wit, a pinch of good humour and lots of curiosity.

Read Books:

Cathy Park Hong mixes memoir, historical facts and cultural criticism to bring to light the truth about racialized consciousness in America. Her book is vulnerable and provocative and asks important and thought-provoking questions about American identity and individuality. 

A personal novel about race,  immigration, pop culture, and the roles and stereotypes forced upon us. According to the Washington Post: “One of the funniest books of the year. . . . A delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire.”

Director of the Immigration History Research Center Erika Lee writes a definitive history of Asian Americans, the fastest growing group in the United States who have changed the course of America’s history. 

Watch Films: 

  • Asian Americans – PBS: This is a 5-hour film series with a bold perspective on Asian American history highlighting the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played by telling intimate personal stories.
  • Minari: A 2021 film about a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm to fulfil their own ‘American dream’. It showcases the challenges and resilience of the family to show what really makes a home.
  • The Debut: A 2000 film about a young man, Ben Mercado, the son of a Filipino immigrant, who has refused to accept his heritage and is therefore constantly feuding with his father. The film follows him learning to come around to his identity and culture. 
  • The Joy Luck Club: A 1993 film following 4 Chinese women and their mothers delving into their past and trying to find answers about their identity which leads them to understand the relationship they share with one another.

Harassment de-escalation strategies and intervention training

In light of the recent rapid spread of online content regarding the appalling discriminative attacks against Asians around the world, it is also necessary to make sure to know what steps to take if an attack occurs in your presence. Many types of harassment happen very quickly, so it’s essential to educate ourselves on ways to safely diffuse the situation or help the harassed individual. Created by global anti-harassment organization Hollaback, below are five strategies that are helpful to keep in mind in the moment, which are presented from least confrontational to most.

Delay: When you can’t act in the moment, you can make a difference after the harassment happened. For example, check-in on the person who experienced the harassment and how you can support them such as offering to help them make a report.

Distract: Ignore the harasser and engage directly with the person who is being targeted. For example, pretend you know the person being harassed so you can take attention off the harasser. The intent of creating a distraction is to de-escalate the situation and create an environment in which the harasser feels excluded and will hopefully recede into the distance.

Delegate: Ask for assistance for a resource or help from a third party. For example, speak to someone near you who notices what happened and work together to intervene. Another way is to contact the police or the internet discrimination hotline (MiND Nederland) which you can report crime anonymously, but make sure the person who was harassed wants you to do this.

Document: It can be really helpful to record an incident as it happens to someone by taking a photo or video and noting where you are located and the time of day the incident is occurring. Report it to (MiND Nederland) when you have the permission of the person who was harassed. However, before recording, make sure someone is helping the person being harassed and the situation is safe for you to record, if not, use the other four D’s.

Direct: The last option is to directly respond to harassment by confronting the harasser and telling them this is not okay with a remark as simple as “that’s inappropriate/disrespectful”, “Leave them alone”. But this tactic can be risky, so make sure the person who is experiencing harassment and you are both physically safe.

Safety Tips

Below are also some safety tips from the Stop AAPI Hate organization for those experiencing or witnessing hate.

  1. Safety First: Trust your instincts and assess your surroundings. If you feel unsafe and you are able to, leave the area.
  2. Stay Calm: Take a deep breath, limit eye contact, and maintain neutral body language.
  3. Speak Out (If you can do so safely): In a calm and firm voice establish physical boundaries, and denounce their behavior and comments.
  4. Seek Immediate Support: Ask bystanders for support or intervention.
  5. Seek Emotional Support: Once you feel safe, take time to recover and reach out to someone to talk about what happened. Remember this is not your fault, and you are not alone.

There are many free bystander intervention training sessions available online. Check out the Hollaback website for a large range of dates to choose from for your free hour-long training. Advocates in Action also provides various free 1.5 hour-long online ‘situational awareness’ courses providing educational and awareness tools to combat these types of public discrimination. 

Get involved with demonstrations!

You can also choose to get involved with demonstrations, rallies or attend a virtual meeting with city or county leaders. Check out the Asian Raisin Facebook group, which is a safe reporting point for discrimination and racism against Asians in the Netherlands. They are also hosting a free lecture with the research institute KIS about discrimination and racism against East-Asian Dutch citizens on May 6th, 2021 from 20:00 to 22:30. Check out the link on their Facebook page for more information and to sign up!

Donate money

Lastly, it is always possible to directly donate to an organization focused on combating hate. Below we have listed a variety of NGOs aiming to dismantle racism, create harassment reporting centers, issue grants, educate, or improve Asian lives. 

  • Asia Foundation:  Improves lives across developing Asia. 
  • #HATEISAVIRUS: Community of mobilisers dismantling racism and hate launched in response to the rise in hate crimes against AAPI due to the pandemic. 
  • Stop AAPI Hate: Reporting center that tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, and discrimination.
  • AAPI Community Fund: Issues grants to trusted AAPI organisations working to rectify racial inequalities.
  • Asian Hall of Fame: Educates on Asian contributions, advances early-career development,  promotes cross-cultural narratives.
  • Apex for Youth: Delivers possibilities to underserved Asian and immigrant youth from low-­income families.
  • 18 Million Rising: Brings Asian American communities together to reimagine Asian American identity with nuance, and power.

We hope this article will provide you with comprehensive explanations and examples for the steps you can take in order to support the Asian community as an ally. It is important for us to continue to strive to be informed and supportive in every way we can.


Compiled by: Sofia Neumayer, Erris Ho, Milou Dohmen, Tiffany Lai

Cover: Sofia Neumayer, Erris Ho, Milou Dohmen

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