The Health Nexus

Personal Stories of the Impact of Racism Against Asian Americans during COVID-19

June 21, 2022

During the COVID-19 pandemic, prejudice, xenophobia and racism toward Asian American and Pacific Islander communities has surged.

In this conversation, meet Dr. Xiao Chi Zhang, an emergency medicine physician and Chinese American, who shares the hateful words that people have yelled out to him on the street, and what happened when one day words escalated to physical assault. He talks about the confusion of being targeted because of what he looks like and shares how his scrubs sometimes felt like a shield that could protect him from this violence.

[Editor’s Note: To read Dr. Zhang’s essay “Wearing Scrubs Like a Shield,” click here. Don’t miss the audio player at the top of the essay if you’d like to hear Dr. Zhang read it in his own voice.]

Sara Campbell also joins the conversation. She is the Associate Vice President of the Presidential & Leadership Advisory Councils at Jefferson’s Office of Institutional Advancement and shares her unique experience as a Korean American woman who was adopted by a white family with her two brothers when she was eight years old. Campbell explains in what ways she gave up her Korean identity to better fit into a predominately white community and how she’s still finding and reconnecting with her ethnic roots today.

To better understand the trauma of racism, especially during the stress of the pandemic, Dr. Deanna Nobleza, a psychiatrist at Jefferson, joins the episode. She validates the unique experiences of the AAPI community—she herself is Filipino American—and stresses the importance of finding safe sources of support and practicing self-care, now more than ever.

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