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Attacks on Asian-Americans need to stop. Here's what we can all do to help.

Attacks on Asian-Americans and Pacific-Islanders (AAPI) have been highlighted by advocacy groups since early in the pandemic, but it took nearly a year for the incidents to start receiving the broad media coverage they deserve. Despite stunning statistics in the rise in anti-Asian sentiment, discrimination, and violence, it's taken vicious attacks on Asian-American elders and a horrific shooting spree of Asian-American women to get the nation's full attention.

A killing spree at three spas in the Atlanta area left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, last night. Details are still emerging, but we know that the shooter was a white man who loved guns and who purposely and premeditatedly targeted these businesses, driving dozens of miles between shootings at three different spas. We know that Asian-Americans make up around 3% of the population of Georgia and 75% of the victims of this shooting. We know that the killer blamed a sex addiction and targeted massage parlors (which are largely staffed by Asian women) because they represented "a temptation."

And we know that these shootings add another frightening layer to skyrocketing attacks on people of Asian descent in the U.S.


In February, the death of an 84-year-old Thai man who was violently tackled in his driveway shone a spotlight on the issue in the Bay Area, where a spate of attacks has erupted in recent months. A video of a 91-year-old man being violently shoved to the ground in Oakland prompted actors Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu to offer a reward of $25,000 to anyone who could help identify the attacker. (It turned out police already had him in custody as a suspect for other similar attacks.) A 64-year-old Vietnamese grandmother was assaulted and robbed of $1000 while walking to her car in San Jose as well, and Chinatown businesses have been hit by an alarming increase in robberies.

Amanda Nguyễn, CEO and founder of the civil rights organization Rise, shared a plea on Instagram for people to raise awareness about the increase in anti-AAPI violence last month.

Other kinds of attacks have also made headlines in recent weeks. Mike Nguyen, who owns an Asian restaurant in San Antonio, went on CNN last week to speak out against Texas governor Greg Abbott lifting the state's mask mandate. Four days later, the front of his restaurant was graffitied with the phrases like "No Mask," "Kung Flu," "Commie," "Hope U Die" and "Ramen Noodle Flu." Nguyen, whose background is Vietnamese and French, was also greeted with the words "Go Back 2 China" spray-painted on a bench outside the restaurant.

According to NYPD data reported in the Queens Chronicle in September, anti-Asian hate crimes had already increased 1900% from 2019 to 2020 before fall even hit. (In the same time period, anti-Jewish and anti-Black hate crimes in New York had decreased, so it's not a matter of overall hate crimes increasing.) The Anti-Defamation League reported in June that there had been a "significant" number of reports of harassment and attacks against people in the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, and the United Nations stated in October that hate crimes against Asian-Americans were happening at "alarming levels," citing 1800 incidents in just two months, from March to May of 2020.

Reading people's individual stories, it's clear that the vast majority of incidents include references to the COVID-19 pandemic. People blame Asian-Americans for the coronavirus—a xenophobic idea that has been inflamed by politicians who insist on calling it the "China virus" or "Kung flu." (That's not merely conjecture; Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council said that their data showed that the increase in racist and xenophobic attacks was "catalyzed by rhetoric from the president and other government leadership.")

The AAPI community needs every American of goodwill to step up, speak up, and act to put an end to these attacks. Here are some things everyone can do to help:

- Personally: If you see or hear someone using anti-AAPI language, say something. Don't let phrases like "China virus" or "Kung Flu" or comments blaming Asian people for the pandemic go unchallenged. Commit to not being a passive bystander, but rather an active disrupter, of harassment when you see it. If you witness an incident, report it at stopaapihate.org.

- Socially: Get to know AAPI members of your community and listen to their concerns. Raise awareness by following and sharing the hashtag #StopAAPIHate on social media. Speak out about Anti-Asian hate crimes and share positive stories about people from the AAPI community as well.

- Educationally: Seek out information about the kinds of discrimination people in the AAPI community face. Click on the links from this article or simply Google terms like "Anti-Asian" and "AAPI hate crimes." If you're a parent, teach your kids how to recognize when their peers are engaging in anti-Asian jokes or behavior and how to be an ally.

- Organizationally: Make sure your workplace and organizations you're a part of are committed to protecting AAPI members of your community from harassment. This PDF from the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance put together has specific action items employers and organizations can use as a guide.

- Monetarily: Buy from AAPI-owned businesses, many of which have suffered during the pandemic both from economic loss and discriminatory attacks. Support AAPI advocacy and anti-discrimination organizations such as iHollaback! (an anti-harassment organization that provides free bystander intervention training) or the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (a coalition of more than 100 organizations advocating for AAPI communities). Keep an eye out for crowdfunding efforts for individual victims of hate crimes.

- Democratically: Reach out to your local, state, and national government representatives to voice your support for the AAPI community and ask them to denounce xenophobic rhetoric in politics. Learn about the president's plan for the AAPI community and push him to take action on those commitments. Elevate the voices of elected officials from the AAPI community and those who speak up against anti-AAPI discrimination.

You can also check out more anti-Asian violence resources here.

Let's all commit to creating a society in which everyone is uplifted and where all people can feel safe no matter who we are or where we come from.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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