NEW YORK — AARP, Right To Be (formerly Hollaback!), and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC joined forces during the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month to produce a series of animated videos to introduce bystander intervention methods (how to recognize harassment and safely intervene) to wider audiences. New data shows that 75% of people that witnessed harassment after attending Right To Be’s training, reported then being able to actually intervene.
In the last two years Asian Americans have been the victim of horrific attacks and verbal assaults. Unfortunately, the need for bystander intervention training has only grown more acute. The FBI reported a 76% increase in hate crime incidents motivated by anti-Asian bias in 2020, compared to 2019. The animated videos introduce Right To Be’s “5Ds of Bystander Intervention,” which provide people with actionable steps to address different forms of harassment.
“When Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC (Advancing Justice – AAJC) began to see the increased hate and harassment directed at Asian Americans at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to partner with Right To Be to adapt their bystander intervention training to address anti-Asian hate and harassment,” said Marita Etcubañez, Advancing Justice – AAJC’s Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives. “Since launching our training series in April 2020, Right To Be and Advancing Justice – AAJC have reached and trained over 100,000 people.”
Right To Be’s methodology involves five methods of bystander intervention. Each animation describes one of the five methods, which have been developed and tested over the past decade by Right To Be, through its training sessions that have helped hundreds of thousands of Americans learn how to answer the question, “what should I do?’
“We can witness harassment in various forms, from covert racial micro-aggressions in everyday life to overt gender discrimination in the workplace. Oftentimes, we want to diffuse the situation but don’t know how,” says Emily May, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Right To Be. “The animated series illustrates how to best navigate instances of harassment as a bystander. Our goal is to transform bystanders into allies!”
As is the case for many people of color, Asian Americans are feeling unsafe and living in fear. The partners have found it heartening to see the outpouring of support as over one hundred thousand people have signed up for bystander intervention training sessions, but now with these new videos the partner organizations are eager to reach even more people through this medium.
“In my reporting on anti-Asian hate and attacks against Black, Latina/o/x, and LGBTQIA+ communities over the past ten years, I’ve seen how bystanders want to help but aren’t sure how,” said Richard Lui, an NBC News/MSNBC anchor who volunteered to direct the series on behalf of the Asian American Journalists Association. “The need to equip folks to safely intervene and deescalate a situation is greater than ever.”
The five videos are based on the 5D strategies of bystander intervention developed by Right To Be:
Distract: Creating a distraction to de-escalate the situation;
Delegate: Finding someone else to help;
Document: Creating documentation of the incident and then giving it to the person who was harassed;
Delay: Checking in on the person who experienced harassment;
Direct: Setting a boundary with the person doing the harassing, and then turning your attention to the person being harassed.
“With these animated videos, we aimed to show both diverse people and places, so that viewers could see themselves in the bystanders seen intervening,” says Alex Lo, who produced the series.
The team is actively in discussions to show the animated videos in AMC theaters across the country during movie pre-rolls and on Comcast NBCUniversal platforms as public service announcements.
Industry veteran animator Davy Liu (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and more) led a team of three animators and award-winning composer Zev Burrows wrote the original score for the five-part series. The characters represent every major ethnic group (Asian, Black, Latinx, Native, and white Americans) and region of the country (North, South, East, West, and Pacific Islands). The videos are provided in Mandarin, Cantonese, Thai, Hindi, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog as well as English and Spanish.
“Providing in-language training materials for this critical bystander intervention training will help especially our vulnerable elders and limited English speakers,” added Daphne Kwok, VP, Diversity Equity & Inclusion at AARP.
Earlier last year, a brief description of the 5D’s appeared in a public service announcement produced in partnership with Advancing Justice – LA, narrated by actor Ken Jeong, and animated by award-winning illustrator James Yang. These new videos plus the PSA are a core part of the increased partnership that Right To Be and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation have nationwide to expand the reach of the bystander intervention training.
For more information, including how to register for free public sessions of the bystander intervention training, led by Right To Be and Advancing Justice – AAJC, see https://righttobe.org/trainings/bystander-intervention-to-addess-antiasian-harassment/