CHICAGO (CBS) — If you witnessed someone being harassed because of their race would you step in to help? A Chicago group hopes you will, and they are teaching people how to do it.
“Atlanta of course was all over the news,” said Devon Whiteway.
It did not matter that the murders of Asian women last weekend didn’t happen in Chicago. The hurt of the hate that spurred it was felt here.
“I’m not a part of the AAPI community, but the AAPI community is very much a part of my community,” said Whiteway.
Whiteway lives in the West Loop and said her life is made richer by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“That’s really what made me want to stand up to say something, say that, ‘I see you. I value you. I know that you’re hurting. And I commit to making this community safer for you,’” she said.
She started by expressing that to her neighbors in a Facebook post. That led her to a course called Bystander Intervention Training, which unfortunately has gained new popularity.
“I have 600 emails waiting in my inbox because people really want to not be racist right now. So we’re getting really high demand,” said Catherine Shieh, the anti hate training coordinator with Asian Americans Advancing Justice of Chicago.
It’s one of the groups partnering to put on Zoom classes educating people about harassment and how to speak out against it. In the week since the Atlanta attacks, that information is something the working world wants, too.
“Firms and corporations and companies, regardless of industry, have really reached out to us,” said Shieh. “We’ve also had all of our major universities here in Chicago and Chicagoland also getting interested, hosting their own private trainings, asking if we can partner for that.”
It’s bittersweet, to be glad for the teaching moments that come from so much pain. But every person whose eyes are opened helps. Whiteway is glad to be one of them.
“You can’t just sit there and hope for things to get better,” she said. “You also have to act, and I think that’s really important as well.
Beyond these classes there are at least three rallies this weekend condemning Asian hate, including the Stop Asian Hate March at noon on Saturday in Chinatown, the Rally for Community Safety and Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes at 2 p.m. Saturday in Chinatown Square, and Chicagoland Christians Stand for AAPI Lives and Dignity at 3 p.m. Sunday at Uplift Community High School.