Delta Fights Discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities

by Satu Dahl
A350 Soaring Above The Clouds. Image supplied by Delta.

US airline Delta is running an initiative to fight racism and discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. The carrier says that,  since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a rise in violence, harassment and discrimination towards these communities in the US.

To drive awareness and education around this issue,  more than 800 Delta employees tuned in for a virtual “Let’s Talk About It” session on 5 March to discuss the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes.

“We often say that society comes to work, and sometimes the events, happenings and pressures of society mean that there are issues that simply cannot go undiscussed,” said Delta’s Keyra Lynn Johnson, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer. “With the recent increase in violence and hate crimes toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, we felt this was something we needed to acknowledge, talk about, and consider our role in shaping a better tomorrow.”

Building a better future

The discussion began with Delta leaders explaining that while this topic was difficult, it was a necessary conversation to have. “This is not ok. It’s not something that we can just look over and it’s not a situation that we can accept,” said Jennie Ho, President – Delta Vacations, noting that there is a sense of danger for her and her family that she never had before.

Delta A330. Image by Delta.

Delta Airbus 330-300 flying along a coastline. Image copyright Delta.

With COVID-19-related rhetoric such as the “Wuhan virus” and “Chinese virus” reinforcing negative stereotypes about the AAPI community,  several incidents have resulted in violence, Delta says, noting media’s lack of coverage of anti-Asian hate crimes.

“The term ‘model minority’ was used as a wedge between the AAPI and other minority and underrepresented groups like Black and Latinx communities,” Timothy Wang, Associate General Counsel of Delta noted. “We’re more aware now that it wasn’t a compliment and that it was meant to harm other groups. It explains why the AAPI community has not collaborated historically as much with others. But at the end of the day, we’re all after the same goal – which is true embracement of diversity, equity and inclusion in this country for everyone.”

Delta says raising awareness, understanding the issues and acting with solidarity can help influence change. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!

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