Leaning Into Empathy During COVID-19

As an Asian person from Malaysia, I’ve been following news updates in regards to COVID-19 in other countries outside of the United States for months. Since the outbreak began in the US, I have encountered microaggressions and vitriol on public transit and in other public places. Historically, marginalized groups have been associated with diseases and targeted as a response to the general public’s fear. In the midst of this global pandemic, I worry about others who are also being targeted at the moment through microaggressions, boycotts, physical violence, or other institutional decisions that are affecting their access to resources.

In times of challenges and uncertainties, while we think about our loved ones, we should also have EMPATHY towards others who have different identities and lived experiences. While some of us are working from home, let us remember the people who are on the frontlines such as the health care workers and folks who are working to ensure our necessary infrastructures remain open. Let us also remember the most vulnerable among us, not just in health, but those who suffer the most under our systems of oppression and who have even less of a buffer when those systems break down – those who are incarcerated, food or shelter insecure, those who have lost jobs or child care, as well as the disabled community who have long been neglected by the our existing structures that are inaccessible. And finally let us honor educators who are navigating a new frontier of education through online teaching while still remaining committed and connected to their students.

Let us remember our CONNECTION to each other as human beings and focus on how people are coming together in so many different, creative, meaningful ways to create belonging and support for one another. We encourage you to start your own personal journey in learning and identifying how implicit bias informs our everyday narratives and limits our ability to connect with each other.

As I am writing this, my reality is that I am physically safe at the moment, and a lot of people have it worse. I worry about them as I sit in my room in isolation. I hope you find some time throughout your day to take some breathers, laugh at a meme, or have a good cry. I want to affirm that your feelings are valid, and it is okay to feel not okay sometimes. If you need access to resources or know of someone who needs assistance, please reach out. If you have access to wealth, time, ability, mobility, maybe consider supporting those who are in need. Thinking of you all. Let’s all be gentle with one another.

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