American Academy of Nursing Statement
Anti-Asian Discrimination is a Public Health Crisis
March 4, 2021
The American Academy of Nursing (Academy) strongly condemns the recent rise of anti-Asian attacks and discourse. Hate incidents, such as violence, discrimination, and racism, directly contribute to poor mental health, instill trauma, and exacerbate health inequities. Anti-Asian hate can further perpetuate generational health and impede healing within impacted communities. As leaders of the nursing profession, the Academy strongly reinforces its vision of healthy lives for all people.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, racially-motivated violence against Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPI) has increased drastically. In 2019, the FBI found that of the 4,784 hate crime offenses identified to be motivated by race or ethnic bias, “4.3% resulted from anti-Asian bias,” which translates to roughly 206 anti-Asian hate crimes. This year, the Stop AAPI Hate coalition reported that they received over 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate between March and December 2020. That represents an over 1200% increase in anti-Asian violence in under a single year.
Discrimination against AAPI individuals unfortunately not a new phenomenon in the United States. This has persisted since at least the mid-19th century – from hate crimes such as the Chinese Massacre of 1871 and Rock Springs Massacre of 1885, to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which banned Chinese immigrants from becoming citizens, effectively until the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965. And February 19th marked the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the relocation of over 100,000 individuals of Japanese ancestry to internment camps during World War II. It is important to remember this history of violence and racism to provide further context to the events of today.
As noted in the Academy’s June 2020 statement, Racism Affects Health and Wellness and It Must Be Addressed, repeated instances of discrimination and violence have a compounding and devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities. The internalization of these acts, whether directly occurring to an individual or indirectly to someone who looks like them, negatively impacts physical and mental health and well-being. As nurses, we must commit to achieving health equity, reducing disparities, and respecting our patients’ human dignity in order to reach our goal of eliminating racism.
“The recent increase of anti-Asian discrimination is incredibly disheartening,” said Academy President Eileen Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Nurses have an important dual role, outside of providing care, to educate their communities but also to continue learning. We must listen to our community members when they come to us with fears and we must educate our colleagues and friends so that they can unlearn their own biases.”
Thus, the Academy reaffirms our commitment to supporting actions that eradicate racism and promote equitable health outcomes by standing with our colleagues and community members who identify as AAPI. We cannot have a truly healthy and equitable society without first eliminating all forms of discrimination and hate.
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 FBI. (2019). 2019 Hate Crime Statistics. Retrieved from: https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2019/topic-pages/incidents-and-offenses.
 Stop AAPI Hate. (February 9, 2021). Stop AAPI Hate: New Data on Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Against Elderly and Total National Incidents in 2020 [Press Release]. Retrieved from: https://secureservercdn.net/220.127.116.11/a1w.90d.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Press-Statement-re_-Bay-Area-Elderly-Incidents-2.9.2021-1.pdf.
 Wallace, Kelly. (2017). Forgotten Los Angeles History: The Chinese Massacre of 1871. Los Angeles Public Library. Retrieved from: https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/chinese-massacre-1871.
 History.com. (2009). Chinese miners are massacred in Wyoming Territory. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/whites-massacre-chinese-in-wyoming-territory.
 Library of Congress. (no date a). Exclusion (Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History). Retrieved from: https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/chinese/exclusion/.
 Library of Congress. (no date b). A New Community (Immigration and Relocation in U.S. History). Retrieved from: https://www.loc.gov/classroom-materials/immigration/chinese/a-new-community/.
 National Archives. (no date). Executive Order 9066: Resulting in the Relocation of Japanese (Today’s Document from the National Archives). Retrieved from: https://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=219.
 American Academy of Nursing. (June 1, 2020). Racism Affects Health and Wellness and It Must Be Addressed [Statement]. Retrieved from: https://www.aannet.org/news/press-releases/position-statement-on-racism.