COVID-19 is not an excuse to be racist.

On Friday, April 10, the Racism and Bias Initiative launched its Chats for Change in the Time of COVID-19, a special-edition virtual series of discussions to reflect on the roles of racism and privilege in the time of COVID and to spark action around developing an anti-racist crisis response. In this first discussion, over 50 students, faculty, and staff engaged in a conversation about the role of racism specific to the increased incidents of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian scapegoating and xenophobic reactions. 

Powerful stories were shared by participants who felt brave enough to disclose their experience with coronavirus racism including fear, exclusion, microaggressions, and other racist behaviors related to this public health epidemic. The arc of the dialogue moved towards recognizing how this pandemic has reawakened old racist tropes against Chinese people in particular, and presented an excuse to be racist.

As one participant pointed out, the psychosocial impact coronavirus racism produces may be accelerated for members of the Asian community who live with other salient and marginalized intersectional identities:

“Also thinking about additional issues and impacts facing Asian folks with intersecting identities who may face additional barriers to what has already been discussed (e.g., LGBTQ/non-binary, disabilities, etc.) who may feel further isolated or less likely to have support when instances of hate/bias do occur.”

We reflected inward and took a moment to consider our own lived experiences, professional identity and social identities (e.g., race, nationality, gender, socioeconomic status, first language, religion, etc.) and talked about the ways we were responding or countering the scapegoating, xenophobic reactions, microaggressions or other racist behaviors and how we are contributing to them—even if unintended.  By the end of the hour, we identified a range of resources and opportunities to support Asian American communities all of which are listed below.



  • Japanese American Citizens League
  • NYC Hotline for Hate Crimes and Bias-based Incidents: 1-800-771-7755 or email
  • Bridges—A mental health hub for Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans in NYC
    • The Bridges Therapist Directory features NYC-based mental health professionals who provide culturally sensitive and competent services to Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans. Please note that listed professionals are not in any way endorsed by Bridges. You are encouraged to visit their websites and to check with the professional licensing entities in your state to make sure that the therapist is licensed, in good standing, and eligible to practice in your state.​
  • EGPS / AGPA Free Asian American Therapist Community Zoom Support Group—sponsored by the EGPS Social Action Committee and the AGPA iSIG Facilitated by Teresa Lee, MD and Robert Hsiung, MD
    • Eligible, Self-identified Asian American therapists and trainees
    • RSVP required. Please email a few words about yourself and your interest in this group to by Tuesday April 14 at 5 pm EST. Space is limited
    • Contacts and
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On this article, Dr. Palermo writes:

“This is an interesting article about how one of the first COVID-19 patients was treated, before his U.S. doctors knew about the disease. Coming up with a treatment plan required collaboration between Chinese and Chinese-American doctors. It’s important to remember that the virus knows no borders. I’d like to see more positive, uplifting stories being shared by the media.”

About the Author

This post was written by Ann-Gel Palermo, DrPH, MPH, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in Biomedical Education.