In partnership with The Asian American Foundation, the NCAA office of inclusion has released a new resource guide to “celebrate, combat hate and come together” for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The two-page resource guide is designed for those who want to learn about the AAPI community but may not know where to begin. It outlines pathways to support the AAPI community, such as links to learn more about Asian American history, access to the STOP AAPI HATE Tracker and more.
The release of the guide coincides with AAPI Heritage Month, but NCAA Director of Inclusion Niya Blair Hackworth thinks the guide can help lay the seeds of support beyond May.
“This is a starting point for us as an Association to broadly consider things that sometimes are taken for granted,” Blair Hackworth said. “This guide calls for us to consider the AAPI community and to strive to understand and educate ourselves in it. Be it from a programmatic standpoint to service and training, we need to ensure that we are infusing and thinking about those we work with who are part of the AAPI community consistently as an Association.”
TAAF and the NCAA created the resource not to only support individuals in the AAPI community, but also to offer resources for athletics staffs across the country to learn more about the AAPI community.
“As an Indian American woman, I’ve rarely seen athletes, at any level, who look like me,” said Abigail Edwards, an intern with the office of inclusion and a former lacrosse player at Smith. “The creation of this new resource about the AAPI community is meaningful because it shines a light on my story and invites those in the greater athletics community to learn more about my culture and heritage.”
For Edwards, showing support and solidarity begins with education and awareness. She appreciates that the resource guide places a strong emphasis on actively seeking opportunities to learn about the experiences of the AAPI community, whether that’s through reading a book, listening to a podcast or building relationships with members of the community.
“This resource would have been powerful when I was a student-athlete because I believe it would have encouraged me to be more comfortable sharing my identity with my teammates, coaches and athletic department,” Edwards said. “As our office was in the process of creating this resource with TAAF, I found myself speaking more openly about my identity as an Indian American woman with more confidence and pride.”
Sonal Shah, founding president of TAAF, sees this partnership with the NCAA as the ideal avenue to bring awareness to the over 40 different ethnicities and 20 Pacific Islander communities that make up the AAPI population.
“This guide gives insight into the diversity of our community but also the commonalities we have amongst each other,” Shah said. “Partnering with the NCAA is a perfect opportunity to spread the message and to talk about how we all work together.”
Shah stated that the resource guide is beneficial to both AAPI student-athletes and other college athletes for myriad reasons. For student-athletes who are not from AAPI backgrounds, the guide offers a platform to confront presumptions that one might make about Asian Americans. It also includes starting points for asking questions differently of Asian Americans and beginning conversations about race or culture. For AAPI student-athletes, the guide advises on how to manage meaningful discussions with colleagues and identify these educational moments where they may see racism but might not know what to do or how to speak out.
“Use this guide as a learning moment and learning opportunity to engage. Engage with your friends, engage with your neighbors and ask questions even if it feels uncomfortable,” Shah said. “By doing things together, such as playing sports together or having these dialogues, we create common bonds. Use the guide as literally a guide and make a lifelong change, not just a moment in every May, every year.”