Black and Asian College Students Prepare for Return to Campus Racism After Year of Unrest

Students from the Asian American Students Association pose at a Lunar New Year event on University of Miami’s campus. / Courtesy of Zach Ng

For students like Katherine Jeng, a freshman at Rice University, preparing for this school year didn’t simply include choosing classes and purchasing school supplies; it also included creating a safety plan.

“As a woman, I had always had this weariness and concern about my safety, but it was really since the AAPI attacks that my dad and I started looking into the safety plan,” Jeng told Insider.

While Jeng said that she expects to feel safe on campus, the plan, which includes carrying pepper spray, staying in groups, and having her emergency contacts accessible, is comforting — especially because of the spate of attacks against AAPI communities. 

Back-to-school season can be a much-anticipated time for students as it often promises a new beginning and a fresh start.

This year that promise seems particularly salient as many students are returning to campus for the first time in well over a year. Yet back-to-school season can also mean back-to-on-campus racism for students of color.

As the school year revs up, so has concern for dealing with on-campus racism, particularly among AAPI and Black students who’ve seen increased racist attacks in their communities.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent rose by 70% in 2020, while hate crimes targeting Black people rose by almost 40% during the same period.

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SOURCE: Insider, Gwen Aviles