Empowering Immigrant Asian American: Community Participatory Approach

Program Overview

With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the goals of this HAAP project is to promote culturally sensitive and community-led solutions and strategies toward racial healing and empowering immigrant Asian American (AA) children and adolescents in achieving optimal success. The proposed multi-level project aims to: a) provide a healthy environment that creates caring and mutual understanding and promotes dialog about diversity by empowering AA children, families, and communities, b) develop and implement solutions for addressing social and economic environments of inequality experienced in Asian communities, and c) foster connections and collaborations.

Key Strategies 

The preliminary work by HAAP and Asian community-based organization underscores the challenges that Asian American children and youth face. The community leaders and key informants at the end of our meeting were eager to work together for a collaborative interdisciplinary approach to reduce the discrimination and prejudice that afflict Asian American (who are often misperceived to be immune from the negative effects of racism) and empower AA children and youth toward a healthy and successful life. 

  • Empowering AA children by creating collaboration between parents and significant family members, school systems, and clinical agencies
  • Promoting community-wide dialog by implementing the awareness campaign to share the stories and voices of the project participants

Preliminary Results 2012-2013

HAAP conducted focus groups with community leaders from Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and Vietnamese communities and completed implementation of the pilot intervention within 15 days (immigrant children and their parents). At the beginning, the project team felt the resistance and reluctance when the team brought up terms like "race" and "racism," however, when we dove deeper and built relationships with the participants, there were several forms of micro-aggressions reported. In particular, micro-invalidation's from statements such as "where are you from?" "You speak such good english without accent" can be insulting and invalidating because they reflect a world view that racial/ethnic minorities are aliened in this country. Another 7-year old boy's comment was striking, "When someone called me stupid, I felt sad." even at such an early age (ages 7-11), these AA children have experienced psychological symptoms and negative experiences in anxiety and worry such as having trouble sleeping at night, keeping their mind on schoolwork and worrying about someone beating them up and saying something dumb, and worries about what other people think of them.